CES 2013

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John Atkinson Posted: Jan 17, 2013 0 comments
Distributed in the US by Colleen Cardas Imports, the new Moos Mini Aero speakers ($2499/pair) represent a serious attempt to get good sound from powered wireless speakers. Founder of the Australian company, Tom Celinski, shown in the photo and once with Linn, told me that the two drive-units are ScanSpeak Revelators and, in fact, the speakers are assembled by ScanSpeak. A USB2.0 interface guarantees bit-accurate transmission of digital audio at up to 24bit/96kHz. The wireless data are fed to a DSP-based digital crossover running on Analog Devices SHARC floating-point chips. Thee crossover in turn feeds the data for each drive-unit to a quad mono differential Wolfson DAC which drives a Hypex 200W class-D amplifier module. The sound was open and spacious. The speaker, which was honored with an International CES Innovations 2013 Design and Engineering Award, is scheduled to start shipping in April.
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Jon Iverson Posted: Jan 17, 2013 0 comments
Two of the products I most wanted to see in the flesh at the show didn't actually arrive due to the exhibitor's respective shipping services. The first was Antelope's Rubicon DAC, lost by DHL; this time it was the Mimer music server from Bladelius, lost courtesy of UPS.

Too bad, because the photo in the brochure is quite enticing. The Mimer is essentially a wall-hung touchscreen device about 7.5 inches wide by 13.5 inches tall. You can see by the photo of a photo how the touchscreen display is arranged for album cover art and control/navigation. The chassis looks about an inch thick and inside is an upgradable hard drive for storing music as well as support for NAS and USB drives, 32/348 files, 4 SPDIF inputs, Wi-Fi and ethernet, internet radio and Spotify, headphone amp, multi-room support and analog input (for the built-in analog preamp).

Though I'm sure many will differ, I've always been partial to music servers that have always-ready built-in navigation screens like Meridian's Sooloos as apposed to relying on iPad apps. I'm hoping to get my hands on the Mimer in the future and see if it lives up to the photo and spec sheet.

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Jason Victor Serinus Posted: Jan 16, 2013 1 comments
I expect there’s a movie industry connection to the name of this cable company, whose new Kraken flagship power cable goes for $8400/1.5m. With internal wiring a silver-palladium alloy, the housing is a combination of carbon-fiber and epoxy resin. Even the ceramic plug is a composite, complete with pins that are a silver-copper alloy with palladium coating. They also look as good as you’d expect for cable that is 100% handmade in Pasadena.
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Jon Iverson Posted: Jan 16, 2013 0 comments
Priced at $3,250 and available now, the compact and sturdy DAC 8 features 4 coax SPDIF inputs, BNC, AES/EBU and USB all capable of handling 24/192 data. Both balanced and unbalanced outputs are available along with a small remote that can control input selection and volume.

T+A employs aggressive jitter management, multiple filter options, and runs eight 32 bit Burr Brown converters. All analog stages are fully discrete and I'm going to guess it sounds pretty good too.

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John Atkinson Posted: Jan 16, 2013 0 comments
In a large, acoustically untreated basement room at the Flamingo, KEF's "Brand Ambassador" Johann Coorg, was getting superb sound from the same orange pair of Blade speakers ($30,000/pair) that he had demmed at last October's RMAF. Again using Parasound Halo preamp and monoblock power amps, Johann was playing files from J River Media Center running in a Windows environment on his MacBook Pro, courtesy of Parallels, to feed a Parasound Z•DAC. (That way, he could use the Mac's native USB2.0 driver.) Cabling was all WireWorld and AC was conditioned with a Torus transformer.
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Robert Deutsch Posted: Jan 16, 2013 0 comments
Morel had two setups at CES: one featuring a pair of Soundspot SP 3 satellites and 8” bass unit ($1799/pair) and, in another room, a pair of Sopran floorstanders, the latter winner of the 2013 CES Design and Engineering Innovations award. The Sopran ($12,000/pair} is one-down from the $34,000/pair—and, in my opinion, unfortunately-named—Fat Lady. The Sopran is a three-way, five-driver speaker, proprietary drivers and a molded carbon-fiber composite cabinet that I find a refreshing change from the usual wooden box.
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Larry Greenhill Posted: Jan 16, 2013 1 comments
At this year's CES, Sumiko's John-Paul Lizars introduced me to REL Acoustics’ new R528 SE sub-bass system. He described it as an "ultra-high output version of the R528" but also as a more compact version of the company's flagship Gibraltar 1 subwoofer. The R528 SE is half the weight (58 lbs instead of 108 lbs), 43% of the volume, and 61% of the cost of the G1 ($2750 instead of $4499). While the larger G1 has a 600W class-AB amplifier, the R528 SE has a 500W class-D amplifier. Both subwoofers utilize REL's aluminum-chassis, 12", carbon-fiber–cone woofer, but the R528 SE adds a downward-firing 12" passive radiator. Low-frequency response are not that different, with the R528 SE's –6dB point at 21Hz, and the Gibraltar 1's 15Hz. Many audiophiles and home-theater fans may end up favoring the more compact new subwoofer.
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Larry Greenhill Posted: Jan 16, 2013 0 comments
Enigmacoustics' Sopranino add-on electrostatic super-tweeter ($3900/pair) was innovative enough to garner a 2013 CES Design and Engineering Showcase Honors award. Mounted on a gray and white glass stand, the anodized aluminum cabinet and almost square speaker panel is small, measuring 7.2" x 7.7" x 8.3", and weighs 10.4 lbs each.
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Jon Iverson Posted: Jan 16, 2013 3 comments
Parasound still thinks we can get more out of our CDs and worked with Holm Acoustics of Denmark to implement a CD ROM drive based player that is shipping now for $4,500.

Inside the CD 1 is a Linux-based computer that analyzes the data coming off of the 4x speed drive. Parasound says that the computer keeps checking the data until it is satisfied it has a bit prefect stream. Balanced and unbalanced outputs are included as well as SPDIF for those looking to employ their own DAC.

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Jason Victor Serinus Posted: Jan 16, 2013 0 comments
There’s good news for audiophiles who miss the distinctive sound of Edge electronics. They’re back, albeit under another name, with designs updated and prices significantly lower.
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Jason Victor Serinus Posted: Jan 16, 2013 0 comments
Photo: John Atkinson

I have no idea where the name came from, other than the fact that it’s a sunfish whose graphic likeness occupies the circle logo that replaces the dash between Mola1 and Mola2 in the house that designer Bruno Putzeys and company co-founder Jan-Peter van Amerongen have built. Nor can I pretend that Mola-Mola’s aesthetics are any more elegant than the name. But I can tell you that the company, headquartered in the Netherlands, manufactures amplification components whose sound, driving Vivid’s G3Giya speakers ($40,000/pair) brought me oodles of delight.
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Jason Victor Serinus Posted: Jan 16, 2013 0 comments
Fresh from Primare, the Swedish company whose name, correctly pronounced “prime air,” derives from the fact that audio moves air, were two new prototypes with unfinished faceplates: the PRE60 preamp/DAC ($10,000 target price) and A60 stereo power amplifier ($10,000 target price). Both are expected to ship by summer.
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Jon Iverson Posted: Jan 16, 2013 1 comments
Also in Chord's booth, the new DSX1000 retails for $13,000, is available now, and can handle a variety of network sources including ethernet, SPDIF and USB. The DSX1000 also uses an FPGA to handle all of the digital decoding and clocking.

Line level and volume controlled outputs are included along with a headphone jack and color display on the front for navigating sources. An iPad app will be available in a couple months.

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Jason Victor Serinus Posted: Jan 16, 2013 0 comments
Thirteen years after the Maryland-based company’s founding, Stealth Audio Cables stand out for their unique geometry. According to R&D Director Serguei I. Timachev, the cables go from thicker to thinner to assist impedance matching in analog transmission. Handmade, including the connectors, prices range, to use interconnects as an example, from the “amorphous wire in Helium, VanCross geometry of Sakra v12 ($12,000/1m pair) to the pure 99.99% solid-core Gold Signal of PGS rev08 ($1000/1m pair).
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Jon Iverson Posted: Jan 16, 2013 0 comments
One of the highlights of CES this year was a chance to hang out with T+A's CEO Siegfried Amft and Manager of R&D Lothar Wiemann, only to discover they were both huge prog rock fans. No wonder I like their stuff.

And speaking of progress, T+A pulled out all the stops for their impressive new network and CD player, the MP 3000 HV, companion to the PA 3000 HV integrated amp. Retailing for $12,500 (though the first two months production run is already sold out) the MP 3000 HV includes the FD 100 bi-directional remote (with color screen), a CD transport, UPnP and DLNA compatible streaming client, internet radio, FM Tuner, and DAC.

There are plenty of digital inputs (8), with SPDIF Coax running to 24/192 and USB at 32/192, and several user-selectable upsampling and filter options. Beautifully built as well.

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