If you watch mainstream TV, you've probably seen it: The American Express Plum Card ad that features catalog/online analog retailer MusicDirect. Filmed in December, with little advance notice, the ad debuted on February 19, and is expected to run for several months.
It was a pleasure to make the acquaintance of Bob Neill, a fellow graduate of Amherst College and proprietor of Amherst Audio in Amherst, MA. In a system headlined by JM Reynaud Abscissa loudspeakers ($5500/pair) bi-amped with Crimson 640E monoblock amplifiers ($6000/pair), and completed by the Crimson 710 solid-state preamplifier ($7000), Resolution Audio Cantata ($6500), and Crimson interconnects ($360/1m pair) and bi-wired speaker cable ($1070/8' pair), I enjoyed the kind of cultivated sound that discriminating listeners crave. True, there was some extra resonance in the treble that made piano sound a mite metallic, but the midrange beauty of Antonio Lysy’s cello on Yarlung Records’ recording, Antonio Lysy at the Broad, was very special.
"Do you have a low-cost amplifier that Stereophile hasn't reviewed that you'd like people to know about?" I asked VTL's glamorous Bea Lam. With a grace and surety usually reserved for Vannah White, the incomparable Ms. Lam glided over to the diminutive VTL ST-85 Performance Amplifier ($2750).
As mentioned in the introductory post to this blog, Peter "PJay" Smith (above), Bob Cordell, and Darren Kuzma presented gratis "Amplifier and Loudspeaker Listening and Measurement" clinics throughout the show. One of the clinics, which I was unable to attend, interpreted amplifier measurement data supplied by Stereophile's John Atkinson.
CES presented me with my first opportunity to make the acquaintance of Stephen Hill and Straight Wire. The Florida company has just released a "push prong" re-usable, solderless RCA plug that makes Straight Wire cable termination a snap. Especially appealing to custom installers, the termination actually leads to a higher level of performance by enabling quick silver-plated termination without piercing cable insulation.
Okay, boys and girls, does size really matter? Certainly in the case of Legacy Loudspeaker Systems. These $46,000/pair behemoths, which dwarf Legacy President Bill Dudleston, possess tremendous authority below the belt, and project an image big enough to do justice to a full symphonic orchestra. It was hard to get all the details down amidst the din leaking in from other rooms, but I'm pretty sure their lower 15" sealed woofer is driven by its own 1000W module, while everything else, including the open-air top 15" woofer, is driven by external amplification.
In the aptly titled Navigator Room, Fernando Cruze of cruzeFIRST Audio of Miami had quite a stunning display of gear imported by Chris Sommovigo of Atlanta. At its head was the fabled Continuum Audio Labs Caliburn LP system ($150,000), equipped with a Lyra Titian I cartridge ($5800) and Chris' own tonearm cable. Sending its signal via the two-chassis Audio Premier Quattro preamp ($15,000) and Belles SA-500 stereo amplifier ($9000) to the Lansche 4.1 loudspeakers ($55,595/pair) with their plasma tweeter, 25Hzצ150kHz capability and extreme 99dB sensitivity, the system also benefited from two Tri-Point power conditioners, the Troy ($12,000) and Spartan ($35,000) and a full complement of Stereolab cables (loudspeaker, $3750/2.5m, interconnect, $3500/1m). If you can say that all in one breath, and pay for it without blinking your eyes, more power to you.
Nagra of Switzerland debuted its new Jazz preamplifier complete with ACPS II power supply ($12,500). This replacement for the PL-L line level preamplifier, shown with the company's Hi-Fi Director Jean-Pascal Panchard, melds tube technology with an improved circuit design that is said to yield more open and detailed sound. As important, the input and output jacks are now on the back panel instead of the sides! A review of the Jazz is scheduled to appear in the April 2013 issue of Stereophile.
Get a grip, Serinus. The equipment may have been ringed with Christmas lights, but it was October in the Denver Marriott Tech Center, not December in the Chapel of the Blessed Virgin. Nor does Nhan Huang of Angel City Audio resemble Western conceptions of Mary's immaculate offspring. Be that as it may, or as some of my harshest critics may wish it weren'tjump to it, JohnnyRthe Melody Pure Black 101 preamp ($499), Melody M845 monoblock amplifiers ($5899/presumably for the pair), Onix CD-50 $3699), Angel City Audio P2000 power conditioner ($4499), and MG Audio interconnects and speaker cable were delivering bright and incisive sound on two unidentified jazz tracks.
Canada has targeted your iPod and hard drive. On March 7, CBC Records, the record label of the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation, announced a deal with the Independent Online Distribution Alliance (IODA) that will make CBC's entire catalog of 400 active and archival classical, jazz, world, and rock titles available for download. The announcement comes just six weeks after major independent label and distributor Harmonia Mundi declared that it would follow the same route.