Wisdom's planar-magnetic drivers are used in some very expensive speakers, and they had a pair of their LS4 floor-to-ceiling wall-mounts at CES, which sounded superb, easily one of the best at the show. (It was in the "if you have to ask" price category.) Of more interest to me was the new Insight series of in-wall speakers, which use the same technology as Wisdom's more cost-no-object offerings. The drive units start at $1250 each (P2i) and go up to $5000 (L8i). That's more my speed!
"For those who want the Burmester signature sound at a relatively reasonable price," declared Burmester General Manager Robert Hagemann, Burmester Audiosysteme Berlin will issue the Burmester 101 integrated amplifier (projected price under $10,000) at the end of February. Outputting 120 Wpc into 4 ohms, and equipped with three XLR inputs and two RCAs, this is the first integrated amplifier from the company to sell for less than $17,000. Frequency range is 3Hz45 kHz, and the preamplifier outputs are balanced only.
Handmade by carpenters in Taiwan, the Telos Quantum Diffusor ($600) is said to work on the air molecules of your listening room to “imitate natural electromagnetic waves.” The effect would be a more relaxed, soothing listening environment, putting the listener in a better mood, and consequently enhancing the sense of space and detail in the recording. In short, the Telos Quantum Diffusor augments the listener’s perception of music. It is said to also improve sleep.
“But you wouldn’t want to fall asleep while listening to music,” I kidded.
John DeVore introduced a new speaker at CES that is said to take "fidelity and flexibility to a new level." The Gibbon X ($11,000/pair), the first three-way speaker in the Gibbon series, has a new midrange driver that incorporates DeVore's Adaptive Surround, a new tweeter in its own isolated enclosure, dual 7" woofers that are claimed to move more air than some 10" drivers, and a hand-built cabinet made from solid bamboo.
With his Renaissance Edition components, Red Wine Audio’s Vinnie Rossi says he aimed to fuse traditional and modern design elements. The battery-powered Signature 16 integrated amplifier ($1995) has a beautiful real wood chassis and a chrome top plate held in place with simple thumbscrews for easy access to the tubes inside. The amp is rated to deliver 16Wpc into 8 ohms.
"I am a substantial amp, and I deserve your attention," Accustic Arts' new, pure class-A AMP IIMk.2 dual-mono power amplifier ($11,000) seems to declare. Its aesthetics certainly got me to take notice. The 121 lb amplifier includes 24 MOSFETs, and both balanced and single-ended inputs and bi-wire/bi-amping speaker terminals. It outputs 250Wpc into 8 ohms, and 500 into 4. Also available, albeit not pictured, is Accustic Arts' fully balanced, tube hybrid TUBE-PREAMP II ($6500), with 3 XLR and two RCA inputs, and 2 XLR and 1 RCA outputs. The company also makes a transport, DAC, streamer, cables and accessories. While these products, handmade in Germany, have been out for a while, this appears to be the first time they've become available in the US.
Think this is a photo of the forthcoming Convergent Audio Technology JL-5 power amplifier ($TBD, perhaps 10,000-12,000)? Think again. The new amp, still in prototype form, will have the same cosmetics but be ¾ the size. What is important, for those who love CAT's wonderful sound, is that it will be half the price of the company's former entry-level amp. A triode design using four KT120s per channel to output 100 Wpc, it paired beautifully with Wilson Audio Sashas and Stealth cables to produce gorgeous tonality on piano.
According to T+A (Theory plus Application) ElektroAkustik's Lothar Wiemann, the manufacturer is one of Germany's largest electronics companies. (It is distributed in the US and Canada by Dynaudio North America.) This company makes the 1000 W M10 monoblock hybrid amplifiers ($33,0000/pair), where the output stage uses tubes to handle the voltage and transistors handle the current.
Norwegian Manufacturer Electrocompaniet had two new digital products this year. The first is the ECD 2 Reference DAC retailing at $3,099 and available now. It features balanced and unbalanced outputs, 24/192 SPDIF Coax and new this year, USB. The ECD 2 upsamples and uses 24/192 processing throughout.
How lovely to again make the acquaintance of Eunice Kron of KR Audio and Roger DuNaier of KingSound. Driving the mighty King III full-range electrostats, with a generous assist from Clarity cable, were KR's VA910 160Wpc monoblock push-pull ultralinear, class-AB1 amplifiers ($18,000/pair). Chosen to enhance the King III at a lower cost than other KR Audio amps, they use Russian KT120s, which are more affordable than KR's own tubes, mated to a MOSFET class-A driver stage. Completing the chain was the KR P130 triode stereo line preamplifier ($4990), which comes with remote control.
Simaudio Moon's Lionel Goodfield, Vice President of Marketing, spent a relaxed half hour discussing amplifiers, cars, and various other topics of mutual interest. Along the way, he introduced the Moon Evolution 860A dual-mono amplifier ($14,000), shown sitting by itself in front of the other Simaudio products. The amplifier delivers 200Wpc into 8 ohms, 400Wpc into 4 ohms, 800Wpc into 2 ohms, the power doubling "all the way down to 1 ohm." It features special output devices made by Motorola for Simaudio. The sound from the Dynaudio C1 Signatures was clear, fast, smooth, and open.
Centrally located between exhibits and near the lunch area in T.H.E. Show’s downstairs area of the Flamingo Hotel, a host of exhibitors had set up displays. Here, the folks at Elusive Disk take a breather before helping yet another vinyl and CD enthusiast explore recordings new, old, and remastered. Among other vendors was Todd Garfinkle of MA Recordings, with whom I discussed holding a listening discovery party at Casa Bellecci-Serinus for members of the Bay Area Audiophile Society.
Gato, a young Danish company whose products are distributed in the US by Aerial Acoustics, made its debut at CES 2013 with the handsome Gato integrated stereo Amp-150 ($7990 with remote). Outputting 150Wpc into 8 ohms, and 250 into 4, the integrated has 1 XLR input, 4 RCA inputs, and both XLR and RCA outputs. Frequency response is 20Hz20kHz ±0.5 dB, and 2Hz100 kHz ±3dB. The meter's needle shows the volume control setting. The choice of high gloss black, high gloss white, and or high gloss walnut veneer covers makes this 30.4 lb. integrated even more attractive.
Earlier in our show report, Jason Victor Serinus visited with Hans-Ole Vitus of Vitus Audio, as well as Vitus’s son, Alexander, whose own company, AVM-TEC, introduced its Alluxity line of amplification components. Here’s a photo of father and son together. I love the fact that the enthusiasm and wonder for high-performance audio runs through the family.
“We didn’t even have to force him into it!” Hans-Ole Vitus said of his son’s interest in audio.
For many years, Edge Electronics were inseparable from the electrifying presence of the company's publicist, Denver's Steve Norber. Now Norber has come out with his own line, whose initial offerings include the PranaFidelity Purna amplifier ($8950) and PranaFidelity model Fifty90 loudspeakers ($3950). The amplifier, shown beneath a prototype preamp, outputs 400 W into 8 ohms (700 into 4 and 1200 into 2), and accepts both balanced and single-ended inputs. The loudspeakers in the system were a two-way symmetrical array with dual 15" woofers, a 30mm tweeter, and a frequency range of 39Hz22 kHz. In my brief listen, I found the sound amazingly coherent, controlled, and convincing for a small room. Major thumbs up to this one.