CES 2013

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Larry Greenhill Posted: Jan 14, 2013 0 comments
Perfect8 Techologies' exhibit suite at the Venetian proved to be one of the most crowded I entered. Perfect's CEO, Jonas Rantila, was introducing his new floorstanding speaker, the Point Mark II Evolution ($115,000/pair). This three-way, speaker features an Air-Motion Transformer tweeter and two midrange drivers mounted on a glass baffle (there's no enclosure for the tweeter or midrange drivers), sitting on a single glass-enclosure housing a pair of 10" subwoofers powered by a 400W, DSP-controlled amplifier hidden within the enclosure. Power for the midrange and tweeter was supplied by a 165 lb, 500Wpc, solid-state Bridge Audio Laboratory (BAlabo) BP-1 Mk.II stereo power amplifier ($88,500). The BP-1's importer, Fred Nadel, told me that the amplifier's output stage runs in class-A for the first 40 watts.
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Jon Iverson Posted: Jan 14, 2013 0 comments
When listening to audio systems in hotel rooms at shows, all bets are off. But once in a while you get a wonderful sound in the confines of the spot where the bed would normally sit.

Such was the case with the dCS room in the Venetian. The company is celebrating their 25th anniversary and Sony offered an assist in the form of a couple dozen DSD tracks straight from the vaults to hard drive. The Debussy DAC can now process DSD 64 via USB (free software upgrade available from the dealer next week), and for my demo I picked Santana's "Black Magic Woman", settling into audio ecstasy.

dCS also had their complete Vivaldi stack set up at the Mirage hotel, with a presentation hosted by Wilson's Peter McGrath. Once again the sound was extraordinary as McGrath played some 24/88 files of Mahler's Fifth that he had recorded himself with Grado microphones. I only wish every one of you could have been there.

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Jason Victor Serinus Posted: Jan 14, 2013 0 comments
Amidst the glorious sound of Scaena loudspeakers and Veloce's battery-powered electronics (among other goodies) ran Rick Schultz's new High Fidelity cables. Alan Eichenbaum of Scaena reports that when the Schultz sent him some samples, he gave them a try and thought they were "quite good." I'll say. Only available with RCA terminations, Eichenbaum used them as interconnects and speaker cable in his demo, mating them with Nordost Odin power cables. If you judge cables by the company they keep, High Fidelity's are surely upper class. Although Schultz was not present, I later discovered that his Texas-made cables are distributed in the US by Brian Ackerman of Aaudio Imports pictured above.
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Stephen Mejias Posted: Jan 14, 2013 0 comments
We recently reviewed Dayton’s overachieving B652 loudspeaker ($39.80/pair), the least expensive loudspeaker ever to be covered in our pages. Dayton Audio also offers a line of amplifiers, made specifically to partner well with their drive units and complete speakers.
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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 $3,500. The Connect has WiFi and ethernet UPnP/DLNA compatibility for NAS drives in addition to internet radio and USB input. The Connect will handle FLAC, WAV and MP3 files up to 24/192. The DAC option adds five digital inputs along with its ESS Sabre 32 bit DAC processor.
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Jason Victor Serinus Posted: Jan 14, 2013 0 comments
In one of the 14 rooms at CES using Kubala-Sosna cabling, Joe Kubala showed me one of his three forthcoming Distribution Instrument boxes ($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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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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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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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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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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Stephen Mejias Posted: Jan 14, 2013 0 comments
Rega’s RP3 turntable, seen here in an awesome Union Jack finish, is Stereophile’s 2012 Analog Source of the Year—an especially wonderful honor for a product that sells for just $895. I love it.

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