Rotel previewed three new "best ever" models at CES. Although the passive display allowed for little more than photo and note taking, I learned that the brand new RC-1590 DAC/preamplifier ($1749), which ships in March, promises to be "the best stereo preamplifier Rotel has ever made."
Synergistic Research has just introduced four levels of its new, hand-fabricated Atmosphere interconnects ($695$2500 for a 1m/pair, depending upon level) and Atmosphere speaker cables (approx. twice the price). Non-active, which means that they don't need to be connected to an external power supply, albeit actively grounded, the cables come complete with blue and red tuning bullets specifically designed for this new "passive" cable line.
There's good news on the download front. Two sites, one in the UK and the other in the US, are gearing up for major expansions of their catalogs. Both offer DRM-free files in both lossless and high-quality (320kbps) MP3 formats.
To anyone who has committed my blogs to memory, or treated them with the same reverence as passages from the Bible, my love for mbl speakers and electronics will come as no surprise. Listens at CES 2010, RMAF 2009, and CES 2009 left me in awe. If only the newest mbl speakers on the market had been on active rather than static display, I expect I'd be waxing ecstatic once again.
Mystère hosted a sneak preview of its forthcoming ma21 power amplifier ($TBD). Available in March, this mono version of the pa21 ($2995) boasts automatic bias, and can work with EL-34, KT-88, or KT-120 power tubes.
PMC’s Fact.12 loudspeaker ($19,500/pair), the English company’s new reference 3-way floorstander, includes two 6” coated aluminum-cone woofers, a 2” hand-built soft-dome midrange, and 0.75” soft-dome SONOMEX tweeter co-developed with SEAS. With a somewhat low 84dB sensitivity and 8 ohm impedance, the speaker claims a 26Hz30kHz frequency response. Paired with four new Rega componentsthe Rega Elicit-R 105Wpc integrated amplifier ($2995), Saturn-R DAC + CD transport ($2995), RP8 turntable with Apheta MC cartridge ($3995 w./cartridge), and Aria MC/MM phonostage ($1495)the system sounded quite solid playing Kraftwerk's “Autobahn.”
At a show in which far too many of the rooms on my beatrooms showing new amps or preamps in the $2500$15,000 range, new cables, or new power products or accessoriessounded hard, harsh, and hi-fi, VTL's new S-200 Stereo Signature amplifier ($10,000) and TL6.5 Series II Signature line preamplifier ($13,000) stood out for their welcoming warmth, relaxed flow, and unfailing musicality. The S-200 is a fully balanced stereo amp with a class-A/B output stage that is said to remain in class-A up to 70 watts. In development for close to six years, it arrives equipped with VTL's familiar auto-biasing and fault sensor.
Among Cardas' new goodies at CES was the 3455R IEC plug ($49.95), with pins of solid ultra-pure copper with silver/rhodium plating, and the 3455R-US wall plug ($49.95), whose pins are made of the same material. Cardas is now substituting these for Furutech terminations on their power cables. National Sales Director Brian Von Bork reports that they're also re-launching the Cardas Ear Speaker 5813 ($425), aka ear buds with bloom.
I was real excited to hear the advanced prototype of the new the SMC-1, a fully balanced linestage preamp collaboration between Steve McCormack and Gary Koh of Genesis. The preamp will come in two versions, the higher-priced of the two probably coming in around $8000. For the extra money, you get higher quality parts and a different sonic signature, which amounts to quite a lot.