Krell’s new Krell IPOD Dock (KID) only costs $1200, but offers balanced outputs, signal conditioning with bass and treble adjustments, all digital control lines, diverse outputs (2 balanced, 2 RCA, and S Video) with optical isolation. The auxillary input allows one to attach a Zune or Creative Digital Zen MP3 player. The Krell KID received much attention from press and public alike.
Harman International’s High-Performance Group’s exhibit featured a live demonstration of its most expensive equipment, including two Revel Rhythm 2 18" subwoofers ($10,000 each); two Revel Ultima2 Salons ($22,000/pair); a Macintosh MacBook Pro running Amarra software driving a Mark Levinson No.502 Sound Processor; a No.52 preamplifier ($30,000); two No.53 Reference monoblock amplifiers ($25,000 each); and Transparent power conditioners for the digital equipment and for the amplifiers. The rack also included a No.512 SACD player. The Revel Ultima2 Salons were crossed over to the subs at 80Hz with 4th-order slopes for both high-pass and low-pass filters. Listening to Diana Krall singing "I Used to Love You," I was struck by how all the loudspeakers and electronics disappeared leaving a holographic image of her voice, with a wide and deep soundstage.
McIntosh displayed the full-range, $80,000/pair XRT2K speaker in their two-channel room at the Alexis Park. It sets a record for number of
drivers per side—110—with
40 tweeters, 64 midrange units, and six woofers. Frequency response is claimed to be 16Hz–45kHz. The system driven to full volume by the 495lb McIntosh MC2KW monoblock ($30,000), which can deliver 2kW, demonstrated awesome dynamic range.
The Pathos InPower monoblock amplifier ($13,500/pair) is a hybrid design offering 80W (at 0.4% THD, 5Hz–60kHz, ±3dB. It features some of the most beautiful industrial design I saw at the show. Designer Gianni Borinato describes it as a balanced, double INPOL power amplifier, with a zero-feedback, hand-matched. MOSFET output stage biased to run in class-A. The point-to-point wiring uses silver wire. Two triode tubes in the input stage are wired in opposite phase to form a double triode that is claimed to minimize distortion. The design proved its merit by driving the Focal 1037 Be loudspeakers with speed, dynamics, and excellent imaging. The room was a favorite among the Stereophile writers at the Show.
I was trading e-mails with Roger Sanders, manufacturer of the Eros Mk.III electrostatic (ESL) loudspeakers, when it occurred to me to ask him about his name. I was struck that he had the same last name as Gayle Sanders, president of another American electrostatic speaker company, MartinLogan. Were they related? "No," replied Roger Sanders, "it's simply a coincidence that we have similar names. I've never even met him.
Ever listen to a system costing $340,288? Ray Kimber's IsoMike venture put on such an exhibit at CES to preview their DSD recordings with "no limiting, no compression, no mixing, and no equalization." They had their SACD Hybrid Stereo/4-channel discs next door for sale.
Unless you've been on active duty in the Middle East, you're aware that Mobile Fidelity Sound Lab is back in business. During Stereophile's Home Entertainment 2003 show in San Francisco last June, Kal Rubinson and I played hookey to visit MoFi mastering engineer Paul Stubblebine's recording studio, at 1340 Mission Street. As we sat spellbound, Paul played the original four-track, ½", 1-mil master tape of Stanislaw Skrowaczewski and the Minnesota Orchestra's legendary 1974 recording of Ravel's Boléro and Daphnis et Chloé (footnote 1). Stubblebine fed the four discrete channels from the specially modified ReVox reel-to-reel deck to a modern surround system. The master tape produced the cleanest, purest sound I had heard in a long time.
Ypsilon's Demetrius Baklavas (right in photo) and Ypsilon's US distributor, Brian Ackerman of AAImports, demonstrated the Aelius amplifier to John Atkinson (left) and myselfthe amplifiers were doing a fine job of producing dynamics and superb open highs from the plasma tweeters of the new, floorstanding Lansche 7 loudspeakers.
Harry Partch (1901-1974), composer and inventor of musical instruments, delighted in generating deep bass. Finding most standard orchestral instruments wanting in that department, he built the huge Marimba Eroica, which he described on his A Glimpse into the World of Harry Partch: 27 Unique Instruments (LP, Columbia MS-20576):
JBL was founded 60 years ago, by Jim Lansing. Its history has been amply detailed in the book The JBL Story: 60 Years of Audio Innovation, by the late John Eargle's (JBL Professional, 2006). Although it is primarily known for its pro-audio loudspeakers, the Californian company has offered a steady stream of high-performance domestic loudspeakers to the home market, including the 1971 Paragon, the L100 bookshelf speaker, and the JBL 250Ti floorstander, all of which remained in JBL's catalog for 20 years. In 1990, JBL produced the Project K2 S9500 flagship speaker for the Japanese high-end market. The K2 Project culminated in the $60,000/pair DD55000 Everest system, with its cross-firing asymmetric horns, and the subject of this review, the Synthesis 1400 Array BG, was a spin-off from the K2 project. It features horn-loaded midrange and tweeters to attain a flat response out to a claimed 48kHz.