Not having been actively involved in the turntable scene until recently, I found out for the first time about European Audio Team (EAT) at this year's CES. I was intrigued by the look of the various EAT turntables and arms, especially the E-Flat turntable with its flat arm ($4475). My guess was that the turntable was direct-drive, but the charming Jozefina Lichtenegger, the company's CEO (above), told me that the turntable was belt-driven, with a 35 lb platter.
I've always thought of Fujitsu-Ten as a company that manufactures car stereos. However, it turns out that they have a special division producing a line of home-audio speakers using single drivers of their own design. That's right: no woofer, no tweeter, no coaxially mounted woofer and tweeter—just a single cone driver, claimed to cover the range from 40Hz to 20kHz. In the top model, the TD712z ($7000/pair), this drive-unit is mounted in a rigid, egg-shaped enclosure. The sound of these speakers, driven by an Audion Sterling Plus Mk.II tube integrated amplifier ($2950), was simply stunning in its clarity and focus.
What a difference a tweeter makes! Elac makes a small bookshelf speaker, the BS 73, which costs $850/pair. They make another, even smaller, bookshelf speaker, the BS 312, which costs $2800/pair. The BS 312 is shown in the center of the photo, with the BS 73 flanking it (I'm not sure which one). There are some obvious differences in construction (the BS 312 has a metal cabinet), but the greatest difference is probably the tweeter: the BS 73 uses a dome tweeter, whereas the BS 312 uses what they call a JET tweeter.
SSI had a display of vintage gramophones and radios, courtesy of Montreal's Emile Berliner Museum. They've had this for several shows now, and it's always wonderful to see these artifacts that tell the history of our hobby. The Museum is member-supported, and publishes a pamphlet, His Master's Voice, four times a year, in English and French.
Michel Plante, previously co-producer of SSI, and now doing marketing for Audio Plus/Plurison, sent me an invitation to a special Press Breakfast on Friday morning, at which a new project involving Rega turntables would be introduced. He seemed most disappointed when I told him that I would not be at the show until Friday afternoon, so I would not be able to attend the event. Fortunately, Art Dudley was there in time, and he has posted a report. All I can do is provide another picture.
Episode Audio, exhibiting at T.H.E. Show, had some unusual-looking speakers, with the tweeter set well back from the front of the speaker, presumably to effect time alignment. They also claim wide dispersion horizontally and vertically over a wide range. The Episode-V ($12,500/pair) sounded good despite having a less-than-audiophile-quality Sony DVD/CD player as the source, and modestly-priced Onkyo electronics.
Epos and Creek have long been associatedEpos loudspeakers seemed to work particularly well with Creek electronicsbut the connection became more solidified in 2014, when Mike Creek acquired total control of Epos and appointed his son, Luke, to be the Epos brand director. The first result of this change of ownership is the new Epos K-Series, which importer Roy Hall describes as being more "lifestyle-oriented."
Although a number of speaker manufacturers use Heil AMT drivers, only one company has the rights to use the name of the original speaker company that used Heil drivers: ESS. Headquartered in South El Monte, CA, ESS Laboratories LLC (which we might call “ESS Reborn”) also owns the rights to the original slogan, “Sound As Clear As Light.” Unlike the speakers by ADAM Audio, GoldenEar, etc., these speakers look just like the original ones from ESS. President and CEO of ESS, Ricky “Rico” Caudillo, seen in the photo, told me that he wanted to stay with the original, highly-successful designs, but in recreating these designs managed to improve them in a number of ways, most notably in producing wider dispersion. A brief listen to the LD12 ($3295/pair), modeled on the original ESS Monitor, left me with a very positive impression.
Carat Audio's products are sufficiently new to North America that the only prices available are still in Euros. (They do have distribution.) Designed in France and made in China, the A57 integrated amp (80Wpc, 899 Euros), C57 CD player (649 Euros), and T57 tuner (349 Euros) look like anything but budget products, resembling products from Primare or YBA. An indication of the quality of the design is that the power output of the A57 nearly doubles into 4 ohms (80 into 8 ohms, 150 into 4 ohms)—very unusual at this price level.