In one of the 14 rooms at CES using Kubala-Sosna cabling, Joe Kubala showed me one of his three forthcoming Distribution Instrument boxes ($TBD). Variously named Quartet, Sextet, or Octet for the number of outlets, this high-end power distribution system is, in Joe's words, "the most neutral way we know to distribute power to our cables." The case is Corian, and each outlet boasts a direct path back to the 20 amp IEC connector. Expect an official unveiling at AXPONA Chicago in early March, which Stereophile will cover room-to-room.
LA Audio Electric Company's tube electronics produced warm, euphonic, and very smooth sound from ridiculously soppy pop music via Acoustic Zen loudspeakers. All products are hand-wired, and include proprietary output transformers. As best as I could make out, new at the show, although not in the photo, were the M-5W push-pull integrated amplifier ($1450) and A-50W integrated amplifier ($1700).
LA Audio was but one of many companies who journeyed to Las Vegas in hopes of securing U.S. distribution. New to their line is the P-845 II monoblock ($12,000), a push-pull design that outputs 60Wpc and has a frequency response of 20Hz100kHz. This is the most expensive product from a company with a 20-year history in Taiwan.
Far more sonically successful was the larger Lamm room. There, $266,950 worth of Lamm components, including the new LL 1.1 Signature line level preamplifier ($45,390/pair) and ML3 Signature SET mono power amplifiers ($139,490/pair), joined the big Kharma Exquisite Midi Grand speakers with F-drivers ($225,000/pair), a mostly not-in-production EMT/SME/ZYX turntable set-up, inexpensive Sanus racks ($840 total), and Kubala-Sosna Elation series cabling ($130,600 total) to draw sweeter, warmer, and more accurate sound from the same LP tracks.
The complete Lamm system on the 35th floor, whose total retail cost, including $216,070 for the Lamm components, $120,000 for the Verity Audio Lohengrin II S speakers, and $100,000 for the Tech DAS Airforce 1 turntable, along with Kubala-Sosna cabling, was a mere $670,071. But my brief was to cover amplification and shown only in passive display was Lamm Industries' new LP2.1 class-A, dual-monophonic tube phono preamp ($8590 regular, $8890 deluxe.)
First, today's language lesson: lampa = vacuum tube (or a valve) in Polish. Hence the name LampizatOr for the young Polish company whose GM70 SET 22W tube monoblock integrated amplifiers ($8000/pair) are point-to-point wired in Poland, and whose motivating force, Lukasz Fikus, seems intent on causing quite a stir on audio forums with statements such as, "I DECLARE universal war against high-end equipment manufacturers: CD player, amplifier, cables, speakersNO MORE CRAP."
John Larsen was on hand to show off his eye-catching Swedish-made Larsen 8 loudspeakers with SD feet ($6995/pair), which are distributed by Audio Skies. Meant to be placed against the wall for full control and bass response, they can descend to 23 or 24Hz, and ascend 20kHz. "They're designed to play with the room, not against the room," Larsen explained of a design that claims to eliminate distortion-creating first reflections. The angle of the tweeter also creates a wide soundstage that was given a run for its money on Telarc's recording of Tchaikovsky's 1812 Overture.
The first chapter in the history of the LAST Factory, manufacturer of LAST Record Preservative for LPs, is coming to a close. After shepherding for 30 years the Livermore, Californiabased company he founded, LAST's president, Walter Davies, is retiring to devote his energies to still photography. With Jan and Ric Mancuso, of Trade Secrets Consulting, Davies is looking for a buyer to keep the company in operation.
Both at and post-show, Buffer (aka L. Langdon Ergmann, Jr.) was charmingly apologetic. Having read my "As We See It," "There's No Business without Show Business," in the April issue of Stereophile just hours before I walked into his Laufer Teknik room, he knew that his inability to supply a list of components and prices, add a track to his Memory Player from one of my six USB sticks, or even tell me what music was playing on his own music server (as in "We don't have an internet connection, so we can't identify the track") had left him a prime candidate for the Duncecap Dealer of the Day award.