Shunyata’s Hydra AV power conditioner uses the same technologies found in the company’s Reference series Triton (reviewed by Michael Fremer in January 2012), but is intended for floor-mounted applications without sacrificing performance. Shown here is a prototype; final production should be complete in about one month and the price should be around $3000 to $4000.
I’m a big fan of Thinksound’s in-ear designs, but lately I’ve been listening more to on-ear and over-the-ear headphonesI find them more attractive, much more comfortable, and far easier to enjoy overall. So I was happy to learn that Thinksound is now working on its own on-ear design. The yet-to-be-named headphone will cost somewhere between $200 and $300, and should be available sometime this spring. Here we see an early prototypeThinksound is still working to perfect the overall ergonomics.
Pro-Ject’s Media Box S ($359) is “basically a mini-computer,” Sumiko’s Norbert Schmied told me. It accepts a USB thumb drive (as shown), hard drive, or SD card containing MP3, WMA, AAC, or variable-bit-rate files up to 384kbps compression. It uses a 24-bit/96kHz upsampling D/A converter, and album metadata can be displayed and navigated via the front-panel display. Here we see it partnered with Pro-Ject’s Head Box S ($159) and the extremely lightweight and comfortable Hear It Two headphones ($79).
In his entry on Pro-Ject’s impressive DAC Box DS, Jon Iverson noted that the Sumiko suite showed an entire wall of the company’s cute but powerful Box components. Schmied gave me a detailed tour of the offerings. I’ve got three pages of notes on these nearly bite-sized components and every scribble is interesting, but here are the main points:
Handmade by carpenters in Taiwan, the Telos Quantum Diffusor ($600) is said to work on the air molecules of your listening room to “imitate natural electromagnetic waves.” The effect would be a more relaxed, soothing listening environment, putting the listener in a better mood, and consequently enhancing the sense of space and detail in the recording. In short, the Telos Quantum Diffusor augments the listener’s perception of music. It is said to also improve sleep.
“But you wouldn’t want to fall asleep while listening to music,” I kidded.
Reports state that, with over 150,000 attendees and nearly two million square feet of exhibit space, this was the largest CES ever. Over at the Venetian, where most of the high-performance audio exhibits were held, things were civilized compared to the madness of the Las Vegas Convention Center. This photo serves as a reminder of that madness. In Las Vegas, this is a short line.
Harman’s Jeremy Brenner introduced me to AKG’s new K619 on-ear headphone ($149), designed to provide exceptional comfort and portability, while maintaining the level of performance one would expect from AKG. “We want people to know that they can look good without sacrificing quality,” said Brenner.
It doesn’t do DSD, it isn’t WiFi or Bluetooth-capable, and it certainly isn’t portable. It’s big, ugly, and, for most people, it’s almost entirely useless. But the TEAC W-890R ($299) plays cassettes! Why cassettes?!
Specializing in user-friendly, wireless and desktop audio systems, Blue Aura is a UK-based company with manufacturing facilities in China. Though founded in 2010, the company gained presence in the US market just seven months ago. Here we see Blue Aura’s v30 Blackline system ($549), comprising 20Wpc hybrid vacuum tube amplifier and passive WS30 desktop speakers.
Based in Taiwan and sold in the US by Wavelength Audio Video, Puresonic specializes in high-performance A/V connectors. Their gold-plated “spring-spade” terminals have a patented spring-tension design to reduce the effects of mechanical vibrations, while their one-piece construction is said to improve high-current signal flow. I tightened this guy onto a binding post, and, sure enough, it wouldn’t let go.