CES 2013

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Robert Deutsch Posted: Jan 16, 2013 0 comments
Have you ever attended one of those speaker demos where a large pair of floorstanding speakers were supposedly playing, and then it was revealed that the speakers playing were small hidden ones? (I recall Joseph Audio doing one of these.) Well, it was something like that in the Totem room, but not intentionally. The speakers that I thought were playing were the Metal floorstanders ($12,000/pair) and I was particularly impressed by the deep, dynamic bass produced by these speakers.

And then . . . in discussing the performance of the speakers with designer Vince Bruzzese, I found out that the speakers playing were not the Metals but the much smaller bookself-type Fires ($6000/pair) . . .

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Larry Greenhill Posted: Jan 16, 2013 4 comments
McIntosh's exhibit area in the Venetian Towers was busier than usual when I entered, and I soon found out why. Whereas most manufacturers in high performance audio were content to introduce one or two products, McIntosh seemed determined to introduce many, many new products. I could not mention them all, but Ron Cornelius, McIntosh's Product Manager, helped me focus on four products he felt of greatest interest to audiophiles. First, he showed me McIntosh's new Digital Preamplifier ($2500, above). This featured a new ESS DAC chip that operates its 8 channels in differential balanced mode for improved resolution. It includes a headphone amplifier, and four digital inputs: two optical, one coax, and one high-speed, asynchronous USB port.
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Jason Victor Serinus Posted: Jan 16, 2013 0 comments
The big news from UK-based Naim is the arrival of the company’s first asynchronous USB DAC, the DAC-VI ($2395). Its companion in size is the new NAP 100 discrete-transistor, compact power amplifier ($1295). Production on both begins in February. To focus first on the amp, which is in my CES blogging territory of amps and preamps in the $2500–$15,000 price range, the NAP 100 is a dual-mono design that outputs 50Wpc into 8 ohms and 100 into 4, and is said to incorporate a linear power supply with a “large toroidal transformer and audiophile grade selected components” into a non-magnetic, low resonance, compact chassis and sleeve.
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John Atkinson Posted: Jan 16, 2013 1 comments
Following the sale of Thiel and the departure of the Kentucky company's cofounder Kathy Gornik at the end of November 2012, the Thiel display at the Sands Convention Center was packed. It was also reassuring to see many of the company's long-term employees on hand, confirming the new CEO Bill Thomas's commitment to preserving the brand's ethos.
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Jason Victor Serinus Posted: Jan 16, 2013 0 comments
LA Audio was but one of many companies who journeyed to Las Vegas in hopes of securing U.S. distribution. New to their line is the P-845 II monoblock ($12,000), a push-pull design that outputs 60Wpc and has a frequency response of 20Hz–100kHz. This is the most expensive product from a company with a 20-year history in Taiwan.
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Stephen Mejias Posted: Jan 15, 2013 1 comments
I’m a big fan of Thinksound’s in-ear designs, but lately I’ve been listening more to on-ear and over-the-ear headphones—I find them more attractive, much more comfortable, and far easier to enjoy overall. So I was happy to learn that Thinksound is now working on its own on-ear design. The yet-to-be-named headphone will cost somewhere between $200 and $300, and should be available sometime this spring. Here we see an early prototype—Thinksound is still working to perfect the overall ergonomics.
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Jason Victor Serinus Posted: Jan 15, 2013 0 comments
WyWires has a new AC distribution system, the Power Broker ($2899). Intended to extend the architecture of its Juice power cord, the unit boasts eight outlets wired in parallel, all in an asymmetrical Litz-wired configuration intended to "enable great image focus and soundstage capabilities" by correcting phase.
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Larry Greenhill Posted: Jan 15, 2013 0 comments
Audio Research had live demonstrations of a number of new products, including its new CD transport, the vacuum tube Reference CD-9 player ($13,000) and the vacuum-tube Reference 10 line stage preamplifier ($30,000). These were included in a system with their vacuum tube Reference Phono2 SE phono preamplifier ($13,000), their Reference D/A converter ($16,000), Reference 250 monoblocks ($26,000/pair), and a pair of DSM450M solid-state power amplifiers ($11,000/pair). The Ref250s and DSM450s were used to bi-amp a pair of Sonus Faber Aida speakers.
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Jason Victor Serinus Posted: Jan 15, 2013 0 comments
Krell released the Phantom III ($5500), a dual-mono design stereo preamp with a dedicated headphone amp and option for an internal DAC ($1500 extra). Fully balanced, the DAC portion, based around the ESS Sabre 32 DAC, handles files up to 24/192, and includes an asynchronous USB input.
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Stephen Mejias Posted: Jan 15, 2013 0 comments
Shunyata’s Hydra AV power conditioner uses the same technologies found in the company’s Reference series Triton (reviewed by Michael Fremer in January 2012), but is intended for floor-mounted applications without sacrificing performance. Shown here is a prototype; final production should be complete in about one month and the price should be around $3000 to $4000.
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Larry Greenhill Posted: Jan 15, 2013 0 comments
At the 2012 CES, Soulution Audio's Cyrill Hamer introduced me to the Swiss company's reference line of 700 monoblock amplifier ($130,000/pair) and the dual-mono, dual-differential 710 stereo (now $55,000) amplifier Michael Fremer reviewed and liked so much in August 2011. At this year's CES, Soulution presented its less-expensive 500 line. While keeping the same appearance as the Reference line, the 500 line features different internal designs, including the company's first integrated amplifier, the 530 integrated preamplifier/amplifier ($49,000).
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Jason Victor Serinus Posted: Jan 15, 2013 0 comments
Jim Fosgate plans to issue two new Signature products, the Fosgate Signature tube preamplifier (projected $3500) and 50Wpc Signature stereo tube power amplifier (projected $4000). Seen in prototype form, and expected in the 2nd quarter of the year, the nine-tube preamp combines a hybrid MM/MC phono stage with an all-tube line stage, and comes complete with remote control and six-position MC cartridge loading.
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Stephen Mejias Posted: Jan 15, 2013 0 comments
Pro-Ject’s Media Box S ($359) is “basically a mini-computer,” Sumiko’s Norbert Schmied told me. It accepts a USB thumb drive (as shown), hard drive, or SD card containing MP3, WMA, AAC, or variable-bit-rate files up to 384kbps compression. It uses a 24-bit/96kHz upsampling D/A converter, and album metadata can be displayed and navigated via the front-panel display. Here we see it partnered with Pro-Ject’s Head Box S ($159) and the extremely lightweight and comfortable Hear It Two headphones ($79).

In his entry on Pro-Ject’s impressive DAC Box DS, Jon Iverson noted that the Sumiko suite showed an entire wall of the company’s cute but powerful Box components. Schmied gave me a detailed tour of the offerings. I’ve got three pages of notes on these nearly bite-sized components and every scribble is interesting, but here are the main points:

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Jon Iverson Posted: Jan 15, 2013 0 comments
The EMP 3 is the company's latest version of an upgraded Oppo player and retails for $3,995 and is available now. They start with the Oppo 103, leave the video section alone, and rip everything else out. The put their own 24/192 DAC in the box and replace the Oppo op-amps with all discrete circuitry in a final design very similar to the previous EMP 2 model.

Being based on an Oppo means it will play just about any audio disc you have on hand and also do 3D Blu-ray and upscale video to 4K if you have a display to handle it. On the audio side, there is also a separate balanced stereo analog output added by Electrocompaniet.

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Jason Victor Serinus Posted: Jan 15, 2013 0 comments
Sharing the room with Cayin was cable manufacturer Tara Labs. No one from Tara Labs was present when I was in the room, but I did learn that the rectangular solid-core RSC Air series has been redesigned with new red sleeving. Look for the new Air 1EX interconnects with anti-corrosion coated copper braid shield, as well as other new products.

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