My other joint best sound at CES was to the On a Higher Note room at the Mirage Hotel across the street from the Venetian. On dem was the G2Giya ($50,000/pair), which made its debut at the 2010 CES, driven by a Luxman stereo amplifier, and the Audio Aero La Source tube preamp/digital player, hooked up with Shunyata's new Anaconda line of cables.
The G2 has half the cabinet volume of the similar-looking G1Giya that Wes Phillips reviewed last July, and replaces the larger speaker's twin 11" woofers with 9" units. Whether it was the smaller speakers not exciting the penthouse room's acoustics as much as had the G1Giya the previous yearthe Mirage's glass-fronted rooms may give spectacular views of Las Vegas, but they also flap at low frequenciesor the new front-end and cables, but the sound on José Carreras singing the audiophile classic Misa Criolla, Peter Gabriel's idiosyncratic but convincing reading of Paul Simon's "The Boy in the Bubble," and the unexpected combination of John Lee Hooker dueting with Miles Davis, from the soundtrack to the movie Hot Spot was to die for, the system simply stepping out of the way of the music. As it should.
Source Interlink Media's Home-Tech Group's self-styled "Web Monkey" Jon Iverson (center) focuses his attention on the new Vivid G3Giya loudspeaker ($40,000/pair), which is scheduled to start shipping in April. Driven by a Luxman amplifier and hooked up with Kubala-Sosna Emotion cables, the G3Giya is a 2/3 scale version of the G1Giya that so impressed Wes Phillips in July 2010, with twin aluminum-cone 7.5" woofers loaded by the same proprietary ported transmission line, this time curled over more severely because of the speaker's reduced height. (The G1Giya used 11" woofers.)
Luxman and Vivid distributor Philip O'Hanlon, of On A Higher Note, always has a great selection of music at Shows, and RMAF was no exception. With a system based on Vivid B1 stand-mounted speakers ($13,500/pair) driven by a Luxman 30Wpc class-A integrated amplifier via Synergistic Research cables, the sound of an open-reel dub of a Reference Recordings Malcolm Arnold orchestral piece was distinguished by an enormous, stable soundstage, and excellent dynamics, with superb resolution of low-level orchestral detail. But I just can't get used to the speaker's alien-pod appearance.
Although it was shown in protype form at the 2008 CES, the Giya from South African manufacturer Vivid ($58,000/pair) is now in production and was being demmed in US distributor On A Higher Note's penthouse suite at the Mirage hotel with Luxman amplification, Nordost Odin cabling, Quantum power conditioning, and open-reel tapes from The Tape Project's second batch of releases played back on a Tim de Paravicini-modified Technics deck.
"That's a familiar sightand a familiar sound." When I walked into On A Higher Note's large room on the Denver Tech Center Marriott's mezzanine floor, the speakers being demmed were the Vivid B1s that I review in the October issue. I loved the sound of the $14,990/pair B1s in my room and they were doing equally sterling duty at RMAF, driven by a Luxman M600A amplifier ($8500) and a modified Revox open-reel recorder. A 15ips tape of a cello, piano, and double bass playing what sounded like a tango by Astor Piazolla, recorded in LA's Disney Hall by Yarlung Records, had an ease to its sound that allowed the music to flow. The room had a touch too much bloom in the upper bassperhaps the Synergistic "magic bowl" you can see on the post on the wall behind the speakers was fatigued after a long day adjusting the room acoustics.
Here's a closer "glamor shot" of the new G3Giya loudspeaker, though it doesn't do justice to the deep gloss maroon finish of the speaker. Note how the fact that the tweeter and upper-midrange unit have to be mounted higher up the curve of the "tail" means that the transmission lines loading these drive-units have become a styling feature rather than buried within the enclosure.
Laurence “Dic” Dickie (above) showed me his new G4 speaker design in the On A Higher Note suite at the Mirage, which will enter production in April. To be priced at $33,000/pair, the G4 features the same absorptive lines behind the tweeters and midrange drivers and the hybrid vented transmission line loading for the twin woofers first seen in the Giya G1. The upper and lower aluminum-dome HF units are the same as in all the Giya models, but because of the G4’s narrower width compared with the others, Dic had to design a new midrange unit. This again uses an aluminum cone and the same-sized radial magnet, but now there is an oversized dustcap to provide stiffening of the diaphragm midway between voice-coil and surround.
The Paragon VL-2 Signature ($8600/pair) from Hong Kong-based Volent Corp. combines a unique dual-ribbon tweeter with a titanium/graphite-sandwichconed woofer in an attractively curved enclosure filled with wool. Frequency range is specified as 30Hz60kHz, impedance as 4 ohms, and sensitivity as 88dB/2.83V/m. Driven by MSB's M202 tower amplifiers and MSB digital source, the sound was much larger than I was expecting from these stand-mounts.
Von Schweikert's new VR-44 floorstanding speaker comes in two forms: passive ($22,000/pair), and Aktiv ($25,000/pair) with a 300W amplifier driving the 8.8" composite alloy-cone woofers below 200Hz. Both the woofers and the 6" midrange unit are loaded with labyrinths, and the tweeter is a ring-radiator type. Superbly finished with either Steinway Black Gloss or Mercedes Platinum Silver, the VR-44's produced a full, musical sound at THE Show, driven by Jolida tube amplification and with the source an open-reel recorder from United Home Audio playing a tape of Van Morrison playing "Brown-Eyed Girl."
The United Home Audio room at RMAF featured Von Schweikert speakers driven by Jolida electronics, this time the Von Schweikert VR5 Anniversary Mk.2s ($30,000/pair), Jolida Fusion preamp and Fusion 200W tube monoblocks ($6000/all three). But my eye was drawn to the UHA Phase 9 tape deck, which was playing some Series 3 releases from The Tape Project, specifically Nat Adderley and his band performing "Work Song." One of the better-sounding rooms, I thought.