CES 2014

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Jason Victor Serinus Posted: Jan 13, 2014 0 comments
Clearaudio's Robert Suchy points to Clearaudio's Absolute Phono ($15,000), a unique moving-coil phono stage system, here installed in the headshell of the TT1i Tangential tonearm ($30,000), which includes its own amplification stage. I am told there are no loading issues, and that the arm can accommodate any cartridge and produce sound without the use of coupling capacitors in the signal path. A second version of Absolute Phono is on the way. Also distributed by Musical Surroundings, its active headshell stage will be outboard, allowing it to be used with other tonearms.
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Jon Iverson Posted: Jan 13, 2014 0 comments
In addition to the integrated amps that Jason has covered below, Gato introduced their GORGEOUS looking new preamp with built-in DAC. This thing looks like an audio Ferrari just sitting there. Cost is $2,990 and is based on the front end of the DIA-250 and 400 integrateds which means up to 24/192 processing. Available at the end of January.

Also worth mentioning is how the volume control display works: as you turn the knob, the numbers on the display slide up and down instead of just changing. Probably has to be seen to be understood, but way cool.

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Jon Iverson Posted: Jan 13, 2014 0 comments
The company logo reminds me of a sixties horror movie and the glass front panel evokes memories of lying on the floor in a pal's living room in 1972 listening to his Dad's Stack O' Mac, but something about that bioluminescent glow gets me every time. All the more weird since this is such a contemporary product.

The MB100 lets you stream from the internal 1TB drive, wirelessly from your personal device, or hook up USB, eSata or NAS drives. You can also stream from Pandora, Spotify, etc. All is controlled via an iOS or Android custom app, web browser or TV user interface and output to either digital or analog ports on the back.

Available in April or May this year for around $6,500 retail. Go with the glow.

PS: Some of you must have similar memories of listening to music as a kid while the Mac's green and blue lights cast an eerie hue on the ceiling?

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Jason Victor Serinus Posted: Jan 13, 2014 0 comments
In all my years of evaluating audio systems, I have never heard a more mesmerizing, realistically air-filled soundstage than that created by pairing VTL electronics with the recently reviewed Wilson Audio Alexia loudspeaker ($48,500/pair). Wishing to start my CES adventures on a positive note, I thus headed to the VTL room on the Venetian's 30th floor, where VTL's TP-6.5 Signature phono preamplifier MC Step Up ($10,500), new TL-6.5 Series II Signature line preamplifier ($13,500), and S-400 Series II Reference stereo amplifier ($33,500) sang with the Alexias, Transparent Opus MM interconnects and speaker cables, and Nordost Odin power cables. With the sources the superb Spiral Groove SG1.1 turntable with Centroid tonearm ($31,000) outfitted with Lyra Etna cartridge ($6995), a MacBook Pro running Audirvana, and dCS Puccini and U-Clock ($24,498), I was greeted by beautiful, extremely liquid, transparent, and, yes, remarkably airy sound that drew me deep into the music.
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Jason Victor Serinus Posted: Jan 13, 2014 2 comments
Beautiful, airy, and colorful sound distinguished the forthcoming Peachtree Nova 220 SE ($1999), an all-in-one class-D baby that produces 220Wpc into 8 ohms and 440Wpc into 4 ohms. Cribbing from our sister site, Audiostream.com—the pre-show press release cannot be found in my mailbox—I see that it accepts up to 24/192 data through its USB and coaxial S/PDIF inputs. Its new discrete class-A preamplifier stage offers improved micro-detail over old Peachtree models, and its S/N ratio has improved 12 dB over the Nova 125 (Stereophile's 2009 Budget Product of the Year). Paired with Martin Logan Summit X loudspeakers ($14,000/pair), this baby acquitted itself with honors on Reference Recordings' version of Tchaikovsky's Hopak from Mazeppa.
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Jason Victor Serinus Posted: Jan 13, 2014 0 comments
Moon by Simaudio of Quebec showed its two newest slim-box Evolution Series components. The first, the Moon Evolution Series 760A dual-mono, class-A/B balanced power amplifier ($8000), is "conservatively rated" at 130Wpc into 8 ohms, and boasts a zero global feedback circuit, proprietary output transistors, and class-A output to 5 watts. The company's Costa Koulisakis claims of its unrelated Evolution Series 820S power supply ($8000)—intended for use with the Evolution Series' 740P preamplifier, 610LP and 810LP phono preamplifiers, and 650D and 750D CD/DAC transports—"We've never done a better power supply in our lives." Together with other Evolution series components, the system produced notably spacious sound.
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Jason Victor Serinus Posted: Jan 13, 2014 0 comments
Absolare of Turkey and New Hampshire unveiled its ne plus ultra Passion Signature line, which includes the Absolare Passion Signature 845 parallel 52W monoblock amplifier ($48,500/pair) and Passion Signature preamplifier ($22,500). While I heard these products in single-ended configuration, they are also available in balanced versions. Not only have their power sections undergone significant revision, but they have also been customized with costly Duelund cast capacitors from Denmark, NOS resistors, NOS tubes in the preamplifier, and NOS driver tubes in the amplifier.
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Jon Iverson Posted: Jan 13, 2014 0 comments
The DSD exhibitors included Native DSD Music, Blue Coast Music and representatives for Acoustic Sounds new download web site: Super Hi-Rez. In all fairness it should be pointed out that Super Hi-Rez offers both DSD and PCM HD downloads, though the numbers of titles seem heavily weighted towards DSD at this point.
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Jon Iverson Posted: Jan 13, 2014 0 comments
In addition to the DAC 202 DSD update, Weiss has also added the feature to its Man301 Network Player. Both DSD64 and 128 are supported and the update is free to current owners. New, the Man301 sells for $9,100 without DAC built in and $12,200 with.
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Jason Victor Serinus Posted: Jan 13, 2014 0 comments
Although several of the biggest high-end PR firms didn't make it to CES 2014, Lucette and John Nicoll of Nicoll Public Relations were very much in evidence. Virtually every member of the press knows Lucette, because she's the person in the press office at T.H.E. Show Newport Beach. Given that her company also represents 14 brands, including Bowers & Wilkins, Classé, Clarus, Meridian, and Rotel, it's no wonder the couple was smiling.
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Jason Victor Serinus Posted: Jan 13, 2014 0 comments
Primare may be known for "affordable products," but the wonderful inner warmth and superb, large images the new Primare PRE60 fully differential network preamplifier/streaming DAC ($10,000) and Primare A60, 300Wpc, fully balanced, class-D stereo amplifier ($10,000) produced on a 24/96 HDTracks download of the third movement of Mahler's Symphony 2 convinced the company to issue its first products at this price point. Of the brief time I had for auditioning, I loved every second of what I heard.
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Jason Victor Serinus Posted: Jan 13, 2014 1 comments
Despite the upside down dissection, Viola's The Concerto stereo amplifier ($22,000), first introduced in October in Tokyo, produced very smooth fast and solid sounds with nice depth and fine warmth on Fourplay's plastic version of jazz. My scribble says that the amp has a choke input power supply and Motorola thermal track transistors, and outputs 100W into 8 ohms and 200W into 4. Not pictured are Viola's Crescendo preamplifier and Oceanway's Audio Montecito loudspeakers ($48,000/pair).
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Jason Victor Serinus Posted: Jan 13, 2014 0 comments
The good news about Gato is that it sounds as good as it looks (IMHO, of course). Sounding great on Reference Recordings' much-heralded disc of Copland's Symphony 3, with fabulous bass, the Danish company's new DIA-250 ($4500—250Wpc into 8 ohms) and DIA-400 ($6000—45Wpc into 8 ohms) class-D integrated amplifiers produced fabulous bass, with 0.33 dB adjustments. Included are Burr-Brown PCM1794 dual chipsets that automatically upsample to 24/192, an asynchronous USB input, and a home-theater pass through.
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Jon Iverson Posted: Jan 13, 2014 0 comments
As I walked into "The Hi-Res Audio Experience" ballroom, I scanned the room and noted several high resolution audio vendors along the walls. Then I noticed an odd symmetry to the arrangement: the PCM distributors and labels were lined up on the left, while all of the DSD folks were lined up on the right.

I was wishing this wasn't symptomatic of greater divisions between the two HD audio worlds, but when someone in a DSD booth asked if I'd be back for the big PCM vs DSD battle the next day, with a gleeful glint in his eye, I realized this might be shaping up as a format war after all. I sure hope not.

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Jason Victor Serinus Posted: Jan 13, 2014 0 comments
Not yet distributed in the US, Rumee's two single-ended tube amplifiers, the HS-1 ($950) and, with different power tubes, the HS-2 ($950) are made from sweet-smelling solid cypress. I wish I could say more, but the language barrier was hard to surmount.

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