CES 2013

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Jason Victor Serinus Posted: Jan 15, 2013 0 comments
The fourth floor of the Flamingo offered my second opportunity to experience Bully Sound Company electronics and my first to hear Bricasti Design's MI dual-mono DAC. Paired with Vivid B-1 loudspeakers, the system produced an absolutely astounding sense of air on John Atkinson's recording of male vocal ensemble Cantus' performance of Eric Whitacre's Lux Aurumque. The acoustic was so much more air-filled than I'd ever heard it before that I realized that either the DAC added air to recordings, or I had never heard this recording as JA intended it to be heard. The timbre of individual voices, and the clarity of presentation were also spot on. Wow!
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Stephen Mejias Posted: Jan 15, 2013 1 comments
Specializing in user-friendly, wireless and desktop audio systems, Blue Aura is a UK-based company with manufacturing facilities in China. Though founded in 2010, the company gained presence in the US market just seven months ago. Here we see Blue Aura’s v30 Blackline system ($549), comprising 20Wpc hybrid vacuum tube amplifier and passive WS30 desktop speakers.
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Robert Deutsch Posted: Jan 15, 2013 0 comments
Larry Greenhill has reported on Revel's Ultima2 Salon, which, at $22,000/pair, is well beyond my CES coverage limit of $15,000,. But I can tell you about Revel's more affordably-priced offerings. Speakers in the new Performa3 series started shipping in December, the price range starting at $1500/pair (M105 bookshelf-type) to the top-of-the-line $5000/pair F208 floorstanders. The speakers feature new transducer designs, next-generation tweeter waveguides, stylish enclosures, and low-distortion ports. The design process of Revel speakers utilizes position-independent double-blind listening tests.
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Jason Victor Serinus Posted: Jan 15, 2013 0 comments
New for 2013, and due this summer, is Playback Designs' IMS-3 ($13,000). IMS stands for Integrated Music System, as in a one-piece unit housing DAC, preamp, and amp. The DAC is the same as in the excellent NPS-3 one-piece player, and the amp a class-A/B design that outputs 130W into 8 ohm and 260 into 4. A digitally controlled analog volume control, three analog inputs, and four digital inputs are among the features of a unit that will also support multi-channel playback.
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Stephen Mejias Posted: Jan 15, 2013 0 comments
Based in Taiwan and sold in the US by Wavelength Audio Video, Puresonic specializes in high-performance A/V connectors. Their gold-plated “spring-spade” terminals have a patented spring-tension design to reduce the effects of mechanical vibrations, while their one-piece construction is said to improve high-current signal flow. I tightened this guy onto a binding post, and, sure enough, it wouldn’t let go.
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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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Jon Iverson Posted: Jan 15, 2013 0 comments
NAD greatly impressed me with their M51 bitstream DAC. Next, they've taken on the streamer/music server market with the M50 ($2499) and M52 Digital Music Vault (1999), both available now.

The M50 has WiFi, ethernet, USB and HDMI to handle PCM files up to 24/192 and has a CD slot for ripping discs and retrieving metadata. Streaming services should be available as options in about six months. For storing files, the M52 connects via USB and runs a 3TB RAID 5 Array. All functions can then be controlled via NAD's iPad app.

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Jason Victor Serinus Posted: Jan 15, 2013 0 comments
The synergy is palpable between Triode Corporation's Japanese-made electronics, distributed by Santo Oropel's Twin Audio•Video, and Acoustic Zen's loudspeakers and cables, masterminded by Robert Lee. At CES, Triode premiered the imminently available TRX-M300 8W into 8 ohms triode monoblocks (approx. $14,000–$15,000/pair). Built around a 300B tube driven by a 91A tube—there are one 300B, two 91As, and one 274B—the 60 lb monoblock includes auto-bias, and has a frequency response of 10Hz–50kHz, +0, –3dB.
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Jason Victor Serinus Posted: Jan 15, 2013 0 comments
For those of us in search of the best bang-for-the-buck enhancements to our systems, and the cables that best complement our components, Ultra Systems and the Cable Company are a favored one-stop gold mine. At his table at T.H.E. Show, the company’s Robert Stein (pictured above) spread the word that the excellent HiFi Tuning Supreme fuses he markets now incorporate Quantum level treatment from WA-Quantum. These are the folks who also make the Quantum chips that you put on components and speakers. I need to play with the latter some more before I get a handle on what they do or don’t do to the sound of the Wilson Audio Sashas currently in my reference system.
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Jason Victor Serinus Posted: Jan 15, 2013 0 comments
Knowing something about race car driving won't get you a good system in and of itself, but it will help you understand the genesis of the names of Alvin Lloyd's Grand Prix Audio's attractive equipment isolation racks. New is their Woodcote line, the company's first line of wooden racks. Made of true hardwood—no MDF here—the four-shelf cherry model with decoupled shelves costs $4495, and walnut, curly maple, and custom woods are also available.
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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
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 0 comments
Zanden displayed their prototype 3100 preamplifier (est. $12,500). Projected to ship in March, this one-piece unit uses one 5687 tube for amplification, and another 5687 for rectification. An output transformer design, it has one balanced and three single-ended inputs, and a unity-gain option for home theater set-ups. Keeping it company were the Zanden Audio KT-120 stereo amplifier ($20,990), prototype solid-sate phono stage with five selectable equalization curves (est. $7500), Signature CD player ($22,000), and the company's handmade cables. The room set-up was one of many to feature TAD loudspeakers, here the Ref.1 ($78,000/pair).
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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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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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