CES 2013

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Jason Victor Serinus Posted: Jan 14, 2013 1 comments
Many, many moons ago, in the days when Stereophile was a small digest rather than a full-sized magazine and lively website, I owned an Aragon 4004 dual-monoblock amplifier. Oh how I wish I had never sold my 4004, with circuitry designed by Dan d'Agostino, and instead mated it with a front end, speakers, and cabling that could have revealed all that it had to offer.

You, thankfully, have an opportunity to find out just how good the circuitry is. The just-introduced Aragon 8008, a software-upgradable, 200Wpc dual monoblock amplifier ($4999) with dual, symmetrical power supply and ethernet-based control and status monitoring, is now produced by Indy Audio Labs, who bought the brand from Klipsch in 2009.

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Jon Iverson Posted: Jan 14, 2013 0 comments
Arriving in the US next month, the new Cambridge follow-up to the 751BD has a retail price of $1299. Arcam's Dan Poulton was quick to point out that though it has a similar feature set (most disc formats supported as well as streaming services), this is not just an Oppo in a Cambridge box.

Audio is upsampled to 24/192 using Cambridge's Adaptive Time Filtering (ATF) system and allows the user to set the digital filter from several options as with the company's DacMagic.

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Jason Victor Serinus Posted: Jan 14, 2013 2 comments
Vincent's new SV-800 integrated amplifier ($4999.95) outputs 100Wpc into 8 ohms, the first 50 of which are class-A. A tube hybrid design, it uses four 12AX7s, four 12AV7s, and six output transistors. Most of its inputs are RCA, but there is one pair of XLRs.
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Jon Iverson Posted: Jan 14, 2013 3 comments
One of my favorite products to review over the last couple years was the Cantata Music Center from Resolution Audio. What's not to like: solid engineering, forward thinking and gorgeous styling.

The company claims the product is designed to be future proofed for at least the next 10 years, and is now offering a new $500 24/192 hardware upgrade (software upgrades are free) to existing owners that is also featured in current versions. The Cantata Music Center is now also UpNP capable for FLAC and AIFF file decoding.

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Jon Iverson Posted: Jan 14, 2013 0 comments
In some rooms, spotting the new product or two can be tough without asking or taking time to carefully look at everything on display. Not the Oracle room. The BRIGHT yellow Paris CD 250 was screaming "look at me" the moment I crossed the threshold. Once my eyes had settled I could see Oracle had also brought the CD player and DAC in a few more color choices: black, white and red.

Using the same chassis design and color options, the CD player or DAC each run $3,500. The DAC features 24/192 SPDIF, Toslink and USB inputs as well as volume control.

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Jason Victor Serinus Posted: Jan 14, 2013 9 comments
Magico's MRack ($30,000–$50,000, depending upon configuration) absorbs and dissipates energy with the same constrained-layer damping mechanism employed in the Magico QPod equipment supports that Michael Fremer raved about in his June 2012 "Analog Corner" column, and that I use under my transport and DAC. Constructed of 500 lbs of aluminum, copper, and damping compound, the MRack is a byproduct of the R&D Magico put it into their Q series of loudspeakers. "Think of the MRack as a giant QPod," says Magico's Alon Wolf.
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Larry Greenhill Posted: Jan 14, 2013 0 comments
I stumbled into the Naim Audio Exhibit and was faced with a wall of amplifiers and electronics. Chris Koster, of the Sound Organisation, Naim's US importer, guided me through the Naim amplification that was being used to drive the tri-amplified loudspeakers in the room. Starting from the left, the rack held three NAP-500 solid state amplifiers ($28,000 each).Sitting just above the three amplifier chassis at the extreme left was a Naim Snaxxo 362 ($3500) active crossover; its Naim Supercap power supply, sitting at the top of the center column, powered the Snaxxo. Each of the amplifier's individual NAP-500 PS power supplies occupied the three lower shelves at the center of the rack. The two top center shelves held the power supplies for the NAC552 preamplifier ($28,000) and the NDS Media Streamer ($11,000), whose control chassis could be found at the extreme right of the rack.
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Stephen Mejias Posted: Jan 14, 2013 0 comments
The Solo Neo now has networking capabilities and uses an upgraded disc transport. At $2000, it might seem a little pricey to a young or beginning audiophile, but considering that it combines tuner, preamp, power amp, and disc player in a clean, stylish enclosure, the Solo Neo represents great value.
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Jason Victor Serinus Posted: Jan 14, 2013 0 comments
MIT has a lot of new goodies on its plate. With hopes that I got everything right in my notes, the Oracle MA-X SHD (super high definition) interconnects ($19,999/1m pair) include 125 "poles of articulation"—the most MIT offers in an interconnect. Their familiar and substantial boxes include an "articulation control" knob, adopted from hearing-aid technology. A complement to the company's SHD speaker cables (which have up to 145 poles of articulation), the cables are designed so that the box sits on either the floor or equipment rack, thereby relieving strain from the cable itself and the components to which it is connected.
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Larry Greenhill Posted: Jan 14, 2013 0 comments
When I visited Nagra's exhibit at the Venetian, Jean Paschal Panchard, Nagra's representative, was out for a meeting. I asked his colleague, Jorgen Olofsson of Marten loudspeakers (the $77,000/pair Marten Coltrane Tenors were being driven by Nagra electronics), what was the "newest" Nagra product being shown. He mentioned Nagra's new Melody high-end solid-state preamplifier. Like the all-tube Jazz preamplifier, the Melody features the traditional Nagra look with the modulometer on the front face to indicate output signal level. The Melody weighs 7 lbs, and has a rated bandwidth of 10Hz–50kHz, +0/–1dB. Like the Jazz, all five RCA inputs and the two switchable outputs (one RCA and one XLR) are all on the back panel. It can accept an external power supply, such as the Nagra ACPS II or the new multiple power supply name the Nagra MPS. The Melody’s suggested retail price in the USA will be $7500 and the optional phono stage will cost $1500.
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Jon Iverson Posted: Jan 14, 2013 0 comments
In the small DAC department is the iFi iDAC for $299 and for those that would like a better power supply, add the optional iUSB Power Plant for $199. Though this is the first CES for the iDAC, Michael Lavorgna has already reviewed it quite favorably over at AudioStream.com.

The iDAC sports a 24/192 USB asynch input with headphone amp, analog volume control and ESS Sabre DAC. Adding the Power Plant means your computer USB is no longer doing the heavy lifting and all of the iDAC components get a "super-regulated" filtered power supply.

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Jason Victor Serinus Posted: Jan 14, 2013 0 comments
Ted Denney's Synergistic Research has enlarged its already large line with its new entry-level Core Series ($245 to under $1000). "Distilling Synergistic technology to its essence" is how Denney describes the complete line, including computer audio and digital cables. The new Transporter Ultra ($1995) and Transporter Ultra SE ($2295) is a single unit that replaces all the individual wall warts used on various Synergistic products. There is also the Core Ethernet Active ($345/1m) and Core Ethernet Active SE for Synergistic Research's digital power tools, and new Element Series power cords composed of copper, tungsten and silver. I'm not certain, but I believe this cord is shown draped over one of the company's fabulous Tranquility Bases.
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Jason Victor Serinus Posted: Jan 14, 2013 1 comments
Photograph: Larry Greenhill

Opening the top of Ayre's new AX-5 integrated amplifier ($9950) revealed an impressive layout, with transformers so big that they extend down through the bottom of the chassis. Rated at 125Wpc into 8 ohms, or 250 into 4, the AX-5 uses the same volume control as in the KX-R, and a diamond buffer circuit in the output stage. The amp, driving TAD CR-1 stand-mounted monitors, sounded eminently smooth on a track by Ella Fitzgerald, and did a fine job communicating the smile in her voice.

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Jon Iverson Posted: Jan 14, 2013 0 comments
It's a simple idea really. Make it easy for anyone at your home to pull out an iDevice and play what's on it over your audio system without having to fiddle with cables and the proper connectors and then a compatible USB port. Some products, such as the Musical Fidelity M1SDAC have this already built in, but if you don't have it, here's an easy way to add it.

The $249 rBlink gives you the ability to connect any Bluetooth device like an iPhone wirelessly to the system. Plug the rBlink into an extra input on your stereo, and then have the Bluetooth enabled iDevice add it from their menu. Maybe not the best sound in the world (though better than it used to be with Bluetooth), but easy for your pals and great fun at parties.

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Jason Victor Serinus Posted: Jan 14, 2013 0 comments
Named for the Italian word for "wave," three-year old Onda Cables of Calgary, Alberta, Canada has announced its top-of-the-line Onda Riptide ($5800/1m pair). The cables have their own proprietary solid-core silver pin in their RCA terminations, and a combination of 13, 14, 16, and 10-gauge wire. Their Riptide power cord ($5800/5 ft) combines 8 and 16 gauge wires for maximum speed, rhythm, and pace. Onda's Riptide speaker cable ($8900/8 ft pair) uses 9-gauge conductors, augmented with 13 and 16. Owner and designer Greg Kozokowsky learned a lot of his technology from his work as an engineer in Canada's oil sands.

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