CES 2013

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Jon Iverson Posted: Jan 16, 2013 3 comments
Musical Fidelity had a large multi-room suite atop the Mirage, with multiple systems set up and optimized. One system was set up around the new M1SDAC which retails for $1,499 and should be here by April.

Inputs include all the usual digital suspects including USB that can handle 24/192. Since the M1SDAC also functions as a preamp, it has analog inputs which are sampled at 24/96. Outputs included unbalanced analog and digital.

But what caught my ear was the Bluetooth capability that allows you to wirelessly connect your Bluetooth device if it has audio files on it. Once received wirelessly, the Bluetooth stream is upsampled to 24/192 by the M1SDAC. Tempo Marketing's John Quick asked me to pull out my iPhone to see if there was some music I'd like to hear. Sure enough I had an uncompressed CD rip of Roxy Music's first album and within seconds it was playing over the system, tracks being controlled from my seat. Maybe not CD quality, but it sounded pretty good with a bit of crunch on the top end.

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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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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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Jason Victor Serinus Posted: Jan 15, 2013 1 comments
To the growing number of USB cables on the market, Van den Hul now adds the USB Ultimate ($599/1.5m). Maarten Binnendijk, Managing Director of Van den Hul, claims that the company devoted two years to developing the cable to ensure that it "will beat all other USB cables." Only one way to find out. On your mark, get set, GO!
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Robert Deutsch Posted: Jan 15, 2013 0 comments
"What's different about this speaker?" was the question I posed the Usher rep when he told me that they had a new speaker, the Mini-X ($3500/pair), which supersedes the well-regarded Be-718.
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Stephen Mejias Posted: Jan 15, 2013 1 comments
Reports state that, with over 150,000 attendees and nearly two million square feet of exhibit space, this was the largest CES ever. Over at the Venetian, where most of the high-performance audio exhibits were held, things were civilized compared to the madness of the Las Vegas Convention Center. This photo serves as a reminder of that madness. In Las Vegas, this is a short line.
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Jason Victor Serinus Posted: Jan 15, 2013 0 comments
Standing in static display in the Audio Note room sat in full lotus position with eyes half shut the lovely G-70 stereo line preamplifier ($37,000). With a frequency response of 10 Hz—240 kHz, four RCA inputs and two RCA outputs, this baby uses two 6072/12AY7 vacuum tubes and one 6X4.
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Robert Deutsch Posted: Jan 15, 2013 0 comments
Vienna Acoustics' Mozart loudspeaker was introduced at the 1996 CES, and it has stayed in the line ever since—although not, of course, without some changes/modifications. (My review of the original Mozart was in the January 1997 issue). The current Mozart Grand SE ($3500/pair, a not-unreasonable increase from the $2500 of the original), introduced at this year's CES, has a spider-cone low-frequency driver of similar design to Vienna Acoustics' more expensive models, a modified tweeter, changes in cabinet construction, and crossover changes. As demoed by Kevin Wolff of US distributor VANA (see photo), the Mozart Grand SE had the same sort of beguiling sound that I remember from lo these many years ago.
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Stephen Mejias Posted: Jan 15, 2013 0 comments
Harman’s Jeremy Brenner introduced me to AKG’s new K619 on-ear headphone ($149), designed to provide exceptional comfort and portability, while maintaining the level of performance one would expect from AKG. “We want people to know that they can look good without sacrificing quality,” said Brenner.
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Jason Victor Serinus Posted: Jan 15, 2013 0 comments
There's nothing like a $118,600 system (excluding racks, Shakti Hallographs, equipment supports, and all the rest) to get the juices flowing. Such was the case in Jonathan Josephs' One World Audio room at T.H.E. Show, where the imposing redesigned Voce Audio VA-3 loudspeakers with Stillpoints Ultra Five supports ($35,635) were making beautiful music with MSB Technology's Analog DAC w/volume control ($7990), Data CD IV disc player w/power base ($7490), and 200W class-A 203 monoblock amplifiers ($27,500)—the things that look like huge space heaters.

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