What is this replica of the DeLorean used in the Back to the Future movies doing at an audio/video show? It's to advertise a company called Le Studio Secret, which organizes office parties with a cinema theme. But this is obviously not just a business; the Back to the Future DeLorean was a labor of love for Thierry Lacombe, with some extra gadgetry that Doc Brown and Marty McFly would have appreciated. You have to admit that it looks cool.
My assignment at CES 2015 was to report on speakers costing less than $10,000/pair, so when I went into each room my first task was to see if they had any new (or at least new-to-me) speakers that met this criterion. I found one in the KEF room that appeared to fit the bill: the sign on the speaker identified it as the Reference 1, priced at $7500/pair. Johan Coorg of KEF explained to the assembled visitors how the design of this speaker utilized knowledge gained in designing the Blade.
The striking Kronos turntable that I first saw at the 2012 Montreal show was on display again, but this time it had a new tonearm. Designed by André Thériault, this prototype tonearm is distinguished by its simplicity, with only 11 parts used. No name yet, and it's expected to sell for about $8000. That's André Thériault in the picture.
The Light Harmonic DaVinci USB is perhaps the most unusual-looking DAC I've seen, with the top of the unit that can be rotated. It's a non-upsampling, non-oversampling, no-negative-feedback design, with up to 384kHz/32-bit capability. The DaVinci uses three transformers in the power supply: one for digital, one for analog, and one for USB and control. This looks like a very serious design, and the price is correspondingly serious $20,000.
The official closing time of HE 2007 was 5pm on Sunday. I was surprised to see, then, that there were some people registering even as late as three o'clock Sunday afternoon. Now, that's real devotion to the hobby!
I've been an admirer of MBL's omnidirectional speakers, the latest 101E Mk.II reviewed by Michael Fremer in the April 2012, issue. These were demoed at SSI 2012, and sounded great, as always. While certainly an impressive illustration of the art and science of speaker design, for me, the 101E Mk.II, being priced at about $70k/pair, is a speaker that I just can't relate tothe audio equivalent of a Lamborghini.
What I found exciting at SSI was MBL's new entry-level "baby" speaker, the MBL126. With a new radial midrange driver and tweeter, and two 5" "push-push" drivers, with MBL's less-expensive electronics, the pair of MBL126s at the show had much the same sort of open, non-listener-position-dependent sound that characterizes it senior siblingsand the price is a relatively-affordable $11,800/pair.
Monster Cable press conferences are always fun to attend, Noel Lee (left) demonstrating the enthusiasm that I’m sure has been a major contributor to his company’s success in the business. His son, Elbert, who did some of the presentations, looks like a chip of the old block. Sure, Monster's press conferences have a strong blow-your-own-horn element, but that’s true for all press conferences.
And they had a lot of new products to introduce. I’ll leave the description of these products to my colleague, Jason Victor Serinus, whose show report assignment is accessories, but I’ll note that Monster is introducing a line of car-care products.
For the record: the swag from Monster was a Micro HDMI-to-HDMI cable. I don’t have anything that can use this, so I passed on it.
The big news at this years Festival Son & Image (FSI, aka "The Montreal Show")
was the change in venue. After many years at the Delta Hotel in downtown Montreal, the Show moved this year to another downtown hotel, the Sheraton Montreal.
Tweaks have acquired a bad reputation in certain sectors of the audio world, probably with some justification. Warming the cartridge to exactly the right temperature, suspending cables from the ceiling (but not with cotton string; it sounds grainy and dry), stroking CD cases with a "magic" brush, drinking "polarized" (or is it de-polarized?) water before a listening session---gimme a break!