CES 2014

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Jason Victor Serinus Posted: Jan 16, 2014 0 comments
Darren Censullo's Avatar Acoustics did itself proud with a system that, on one of John Atkinson's recordings of male vocal ensemble Cantus, delivered totally natural and clear sound with beautiful layering and air, and natural timbres to boot. And as much as Shelby Lynne's "Little Lovin'" is getting less and less lovin' from me each time I discover multiple rooms playing it at shows—aren't there any other good tracks on her very well-recorded album?—Lynne's bass accompaniment was very profound, and the heart-warming beauty of the sound most impressive.
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Jason Victor Serinus Posted: Jan 16, 2014 0 comments
Alexander Vitus Mogensen was deservedly bright-eyed about his equally handsome AVM-TEC Alluxity Pre One ($9150). Designed with the lifestyle conscious in mind, the Pre One first reached Asia last summer, and is now appearing in the US courtesy of distributor Light Harmonic. Its relay-operated volume control adjusts in 3dB intervals, and then decreases to a still large (in my estimation) 1.5dB as volume increases. It also offers balanced, zero global feedback topology, easily upgradable internal modules, five inputs (RCA and XLR), and two outputs.
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Jason Victor Serinus Posted: Jan 16, 2014 1 comments
Once again, Unison Research scored a 10. Distributed by Colleen Cardas and Marc Phillips of Colleen Cardas Imports, the new Unison Research Triode 25 integrated amplifier ($3495) exhibited beautiful sweetness and marvelous delicacy in a Handel piano recording by Murray Perahia (whom I’m going to hear live on February 20, yippee). The amp is switchable between 22Wpc in triode mode and 45Wpc in pentode, and sounds equally fine in both.
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Kalman Rubinson Posted: Jan 16, 2014 2 comments
I know this is a lousy picture but it doesn't matter because the important product in it, the new AURALiC Aries Music Streamer (second from the top) is a prototype and it is housed in an enclosure borrowed from the AURALiC Vega DAC (top of the stack) recently praised by JA in the February issue. The Aries ($999) is the link between the NAS where you store your music files and your USB DAC. It is the first implementation of AURALiC's Lightning streaming protocol, based on 802.11ac Gigabit WiFi and capable of gapless play of all current formats, in stereo, up to 32/384, DXD, and DSD128 as well as all common lossy and lossless formats. The Aires has built-in Internet radio and is compatible with all major platforms and many other streaming protocols, including UPnP and DLNA.
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John Atkinson Posted: Jan 16, 2014 0 comments
The German ADAM company has been developing the idea of the Air Motion Transformer HF unit, originally developed by Dr. Oskar Heil. The latest version of their tweeter, the X-ART tweeter, is featured in the Mk.II version of the Tensor Beta loudspeaker ($25,000/pair), which was being demmed with Cary electronics. The X-ART tweeter is married to a folded-ribbon upper-midrange unit, a new lower midrange unit and two woofers, all mounted on a solid aluminum baffle. The enclosure is made from 1” and 2” MDF panels, extensively crossbraced. Interestingly, waffle-shaped inner panels are loosely filled with steel shot, which absorbs vibrational energy. The speaker is also supported on fluid-filled feet to further absorb vibration.
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John Atkinson Posted: Jan 16, 2014 0 comments
With new US distribution, by the Katli Audio Co. from LA, the Taiwanese Usher loudspeaker manufacturer premiered its Grand Tower flagship ($37,800/pair) at CES. Combining Usher’s diamond-dome tweeter with two in-house 7" midrange units and two Eton 11" woofers, the Grand Tower weighs 500 lbs and has a claimed low-frequency extension of 24Hz, with a 90dB sensitivity. My experience of a percussion recording suggests that both specifications are valid!
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John Atkinson Posted: Jan 16, 2014 1 comments
The Polar Vortex weather and its associated flight cancellations prevented Convergent Audio Technology’s Ken Stevens from reaching Las Vegas until the third day of the show. However, once he arrived, he set up a system featuring Vandersteen 5A Carbon speakers, connected by Stealth cables to his new JL5 Triode "Baby CAT" stereo power amplifier. This 100Wpc (8 ohms) amplifier costs $12,000 with amorphous core transformers and Black Gate capacitors, $10,000 with silicon-steel transformers. The circuit features what Ken calls "OptiBias"—Ken describes this as "somewhere between constant current and constant power"—which keeps the bias current of the output-stage KT120 tubes independent of fluctuations in the AC supply voltage. Those who feel tube amplifiers can’t rock hard in the bass should have experienced the Led Zeppelin track I auditioned in Ken’s room.
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Jason Victor Serinus Posted: Jan 16, 2014 4 comments
Given Dan D'Agostino's products recent awards—Stereophile Joint Amplification Component of the 2013 for the original Momentum monoblock amplifier, and CES 2014 Innovations Design and Engineering awards for the Momentum preamp—it's no wonder everyone was buzzing around the new Momentum integrated amplifier ($45,000). Manufactured in—you're going to love this—Carefree, AZ, the Momentum integrated is a no-compromise design that includes the same preamp and stereo boards used in the Dan D'Agostino Master Audio Systems' separates
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Jason Victor Serinus Posted: Jan 16, 2014 0 comments
"Bass really impressive . . . very neutral," I wrote in my notes as I listened to the Budapest Symphony Orchestra blast away in the last movement of Mahler's Symphony 1. "Really excellent in clarifying complex instrumental layers that other systems blend together. A little toned down on top and lacking in ultimate color, but rich in ultimate clarity and control."
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Kalman Rubinson Posted: Jan 16, 2014 0 comments
I was getting bored with my own opening question asking exhibitors do you have anything that's new for under $2000. For two days, I was getting either a gleeful "Yes!" or a slow "No but . . ." Mike Manousselis, Director of Marketing for Dynaudio USA, surprised me with a new answer: "Well, we have something that is not new but it's price is new and it is now under $2000."
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Jason Victor Serinus Posted: Jan 16, 2014 0 comments
Quasi-secreted in the front half of his father Dan’s room, Bret D’Agostino showed off the rethought aesthetics, better class-A power, and additional refinement of his new BSC 5 series. Available now are the M5 monoblocks ($28,500/pair), which replace the 100M monoblocks; S5 class-A stereo amplifier ($15,000); and optional amplifier Base 5 ($1600). Coming in March is the L5 line stage preamplifier ($14,500). Bret is responsible for the entire design, inside and out, which pushes the envelope of his original design topology. There was no way to audition the products, but I can only assume that they improve upon the sound of their predecessors, some which I enthused about last year at T.H.E. Show.
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John Atkinson Posted: Jan 16, 2014 3 comments
On first glimpse, Nola’s Carl Marchisotto appeared to be demming the same Concert Grand Reference Gold loudspeakers he had shown at the 2013 CES. However, those were the preproduction protypes and the 2014 show featured the production version. Costing the same $197,000/pair, the speaker features a new ribbon supertweeter taking the response up to 100kHz and two new Gold Technology woofers operating below 40Hz. Driven by an Audio Research Reference 75 stereo amplifier and an Audio Research Reference 10 preamp, with source two United Home Audio Tape decks running 15ips, 2-track analog tape and hooked up with Nordost Odin cabling, the sound in this room had an impressive, full-range sweep that usefully loosened up as the show progressed and the speakers/system broke in.
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John Atkinson Posted: Jan 16, 2014 0 comments
Jason Serinus mentioned the Rosso Fiorentino Florentia loudspeakers ($99,995/pair) in his report on the Graaf amplifier in the Avatar Acoustics room below. This four-way speaker enclosure features aluminum front panels and glass side panels and weighs 361.5 lbs. The midrange and treble units are mounted in an open baffle, while the top-mounted woofer and the twin 12" subs are mounted in sealed enclosure. The subs are driven by a 1500W amplifier and the sensitivity is claimed to be 89dB.
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Jason Victor Serinus Posted: Jan 16, 2014 0 comments
Is it any surprise Audio Consulting and Scaena, otherwise known as Switzerland meets South Florida, sounded excellent? From Audio Consulting, who were making their first show appearance since 2008, and is now sold direct from Nashville, we experienced numerous products. The first, the Audio Consulting MIPA (Mains Independent Power Amplifier) Silver Rock Toroidal amplifier, is available in stereo 30W ($45,000), mono 120W, and 30W/120W switchable ($52,000) configurations. A battery-driven, solid-state class-A switching amplifier, it has customizable inputs and outputs and is housed in a wood chassis.
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John Atkinson Posted: Jan 15, 2014 0 comments
Jon Iverson already reported on the Antelope DAC, but as I have just favorably reviewed their SCM 7 v.3 minimonitor for the forthcoming April issue of Stereophile, I was more interested in the active ATC SCM100SL Towers in the room. This speaker combines ATC's proprietary soft-dome midrange driver with a 1" tweeter and 12" woofer, tri-amped by ATC's Anniversary amplification. With a laptop running JRiver Media Center feeding data to the Antelope Zodiac-Platinum DAC with its Voltikus power supply, the 24/96 transfer of Steely Dan's "Babylon Sisters" was reproduced with tight, well-controlled low frequencies.

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