CES 2013

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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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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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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
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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Jon Iverson Posted: Jan 14, 2013 5 comments
Stepping into the Pro-ject room in the Venetian I spied an entire wall of little boxes--literally dozens of them. Norbert Schmied, from the company's US representatives, Sumiko, handily pointed me toward the DACs and Streamers.

New to CES this year is the company's DAC Box DS in a small compact package and retailing for $549. Features include 24/192 SPDIF, Toslink and async USB as well as PCM-1792 Burr-Brown DAC and 2 filter options.

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Jason Victor Serinus Posted: Jan 14, 2013 0 comments
In one of the 14 rooms at CES using Kubala-Sosna cabling, Joe Kubala showed me one of his three forthcoming Distribution Instrument boxes ($TBD). Variously named Quartet, Sextet, or Octet for the number of outlets, this high-end power distribution system is, in Joe's words, "the most neutral way we know to distribute power to our cables." The case is Corian, and each outlet boasts a direct path back to the 20 amp IEC connector. Expect an official unveiling at AXPONA Chicago in early March, which Stereophile will cover room-to-room.
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Jason Victor Serinus Posted: Jan 14, 2013 0 comments
Photograph: Larry Greenhill

Theta Digital, the pioneer of digital separates, announces the mighty Prometheus monoblocks ($12,000/pair). Heard in pre-production mode, with bass so strong and tight that it sent me into the hallway to discuss the product, the 200Wpc into 8 ohms monoblock is due out "within 90 days" (to quote a mantra oft-repeated at CES 2013).

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Larry Greenhill Posted: Jan 14, 2013 0 comments
English manufacturer Chord Electronics is known for its sophisticated CD players, which use sophisticated DACs. Indeed there was a huge picture denoting Chord's latest-generation DAC, the QBD 76, at the center of the back wall. As my beat was amplifiers, Chord's designer, John Franks (pictured above), spent the next 30 minutes walking me through the design of Chord's latest amplifier, the SPM 1200 Mk.II ($14,000), a solid-state, 350Wpc stereo mode. The amplifier sits at the bottom of the short stack of audio equipment John is leaning on. He explained that the amplifier has a high-frequency, 2kW, switch-mode power supply, and uses an output stage based on dual-die, lateral-structure MOSFETs with a soft turn/on-turn/off characteristic. This allowed John to use a sliding class-AB design.
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Jon Iverson Posted: Jan 14, 2013 0 comments
JA noted the new Weiss network player at Rocky Mountain, but this was the first time I had seen the production version. There are two options available: with DAC for $12,262 or without for $9,083. Either way the MAN301 uses an iPad app for remote control, has a CD slot on the front for ripping your discs, and the need for external storage.

Since this is a network player and not just a music server, the Weiss can handle internet radio and podcasts and has a variety of digital inputs. Both balanced and unbalanced analog outputs as well as digital complete the back panel.

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Jason Victor Serinus Posted: Jan 14, 2013 0 comments
The earth's ecology may be upside down, but Kevin Deal of Upscale Audio displayed PrimaLuna's new DiaLogue Premium integrated amplifier ($3299) that way for a positive reason. "It has a laundry list of the best parts," he declared, handing me a sheet that touts oxygen-free continuous-crystal copper, silver-plated, Teflon-dielectric point-to-point wiring; Takman audiophile grade resistors, and SRC tinfoil capacitors in critical signal paths; and an Alps potentiometer. The DiaLogue Premium is claimed to have such a good auto-biasing mechanism that you can mix and match 6L6GC/KT66, EL-34/KT77, 6550/KT88, and KT120 power tubes in any combination or permutation you so choose, and a bad tube indicator in case your sonic Devil's Brew won't cut it on the particular day that you hope to impress your mother-in-law. "Call it 40Wpc," said Kevin, "but it's not underpowered; it's huge power." There's only one way to find out what that means.
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Stephen Mejias Posted: Jan 14, 2013 1 comments
Distributed in the US by April Music, the 50Wpc Aura Vita receiver ($1245) was mated with Aura’s matching Vivid CD player ($995).
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Jason Victor Serinus Posted: Jan 14, 2013 0 comments
Lew Johnson of Conrad-Johnson announced a new stereo amplifier, which he considers priced in "the sweet spot for sound per dollar." The CP125sa ($8250 in base version, $10,000 upgraded) outputs "roughly" 125Wpc, and uses the same circuit as the top-of-the-line ART, albeit with less expensive parts in all but the most critical places.

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