Over the last several years, whenever I’ve run into High Water Sound’s Jeffrey Catalano at a show, he reminds me that I have an invitation to visit his NYC salon for a proper listen. I smile, thank him, and honestly agree: Yes, we definitely have to get together soon. It’s gotten to the point now that we don’t even have to talk about it. I know what he’s going to say, he knows what I’m going to say. For no good reason at all, I still haven’t made it down to 274 Water Street.
Earlier in this show report, I mentioned that the excellent music played in Jeffrey Catalano’s High Water Sound room served as a reminder of my passion for the high-end audio hobby. And it’s true: From time to time, I do need those gentle reminders. So much of high-end audio remains so completely foreign and unobtainable that I sometimes feel entirely out of place.
But in the Music Hall room, I always feel right at home. . .
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:
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?!
Earlier in our show report, Jason Victor Serinus visited with Hans-Ole Vitus of Vitus Audio, as well as Vitus’s son, Alexander, whose own company, AVM-TEC, introduced its Alluxity line of amplification components. Here’s a photo of father and son together. I love the fact that the enthusiasm and wonder for high-performance audio runs through the family.
“We didn’t even have to force him into it!” Hans-Ole Vitus said of his son’s interest in audio.
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.
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.
With his Renaissance Edition components, Red Wine Audio’s Vinnie Rossi says he aimed to fuse traditional and modern design elements. The battery-powered Signature 16 integrated amplifier ($1995) has a beautiful real wood chassis and a chrome top plate held in place with simple thumbscrews for easy access to the tubes inside. The amp is rated to deliver 16Wpc into 8 ohms.
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.
My old friends, Big Mike and Anton of NFS Audio. Over at the Flamingo, exhibiting at T.H.E. Show, the pair were having a good time, listening to Lee Morgan through a system comprising Yamaha NS1000 and Infinity WTLC loudspeakers, a Yamaha CR3020 receiver, a Sony PSX800 turntable with Monster Sigma Genesis MC cartridge, and an Oppo disc player.