My final visit of the Show's first public day was to Jay Rein's Bluebird Music, Ltd. room. Tucked into a small niche in a space otherwise dominated by Chord electronics and Neat loudspeakers (which Jay considers an ideal match for Chord) sat an unobtrusive Exposure system consisting of the Exposure 2010S CD player and integrated amp ($1250 each) connected to diminutive NEAT Acoustics Motive 2 loudspeakers ($1995/pair) by entry-level Kubala-Sosna speaker cables. Rein and CA dealer Michael Silver of Audio High then proceeded to blow my mind with budget magic. As was the case with the new, even lower-priced Denon system I described yesterday, the system's evenly balanced, full-range sound blew me away. Now I understand why Stereophile has heaped praise on Exposure Electronics. I'd love to hear this stuff powered by after-market power cables and a power conditioner of some sort. Stuff that sounds this good can only sound better when given the opportunity to demonstrate its full potential.
High Fidelity Services of Braintree, MA was producing good, solid sound on well-recorded rock on a system that mixed two products it imports and distributes, Neat Acoustics’ Ultimatum XL6 loudspeakers ($14,280/pair) and Scheu Analog’s Das Laufwerk 1 turntable with 12" Tacco arm and Scheu/Benz cartridge ($15.995), with Zanden’s Model 2500 CD player ($22,000), Model 6000 integrated amplifier ($22,000), and 1300 phono stage ($13,750); Running Springs’ Maxim power conditioner ($6400); and Chord Cable Company’s SArum cabling ($8400).
Neil Young, the great man himself, paid a visit to the hi-res exhibits at CES to herald the arrival of his righteous hi-res music file player, Pono. Among the announcements: Pono is now available at something like 80 retail outlets, as well as in 35 Fry's Electronics locations. Among the stores selling Pono are In Living Stereo in NYC, Audio Consultants in Chicago, The Audio Salon in LA, Audio Element in Pasadena, Audio Vision SF, Music Lovers in Berkeley, Definitive Audio in Washington State, Amoeba in SF and LA.
I have commented in previous blogs on the easy, unforced and natural sound of Moscode hybrid electronics. Here, the Moscode 402 200Wpc hybrid amplifier was paired with Quad 988 electrostatic speakers that were bolted to custom bases, Esoteric DV-50 universal player, and Cardas Golden Reference cables. Since neither George Kaye nor Gage Rommel was in the room at the time, I was unable to determine what tubes were being used in the amp. But the ability to easily roll tubes in this unit makes it a dream for people like myself who love to tailor the system's sound to their specific preferences.
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.