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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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
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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Jason Victor Serinus Posted: Jan 14, 2013 0 comments
On January 10, the third day of CES, Michael Lavorgna, Jon Iverson, Stephen Mejias and I flocked to the Flamingo, home of the T.H.E. Show. There I made a first acquaintance with Coda Technologies, a company based 90 or so minutes from me in Sacramento, California. All Coda products are designed, manufactured, and assembled in the good ole USA, and come with a 10 year warranty, transferrable for 5 years.
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Jon Iverson Posted: Jan 14, 2013 1 comments
Krell is jumping into the streaming world with a somewhat reasonably priced product that can come two ways: streamer with digital out only at $2,500 or with built-in DAC for $3,500. The Connect has WiFi and ethernet UPnP/DLNA compatibility for NAS drives in addition to internet radio and USB input. The Connect will handle FLAC, WAV and MP3 files up to 24/192. The DAC option adds five digital inputs along with its ESS Sabre 32 bit DAC processor.
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Jason Victor Serinus Larry Greenhill 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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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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Larry Greenhill Jason Victor Serinus 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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