Roger Gibboni of Rogers High Fidelity unveiled the Rogers 34S-1 integrated amplifier ($19,900, top on rack in photo). A dual-mono class-A amplifier with eight EL-34 power tubes, this baby, set to ship in March, has a unique, dedicated iOS platform (visible on Gibboni's iPad) which allows for complete functionality including bad tube indicators. Apple and Android smartphone operation via Bluetooth is included, and auto-bias circuitry and a lifetime warranty are other pluses. On a scale of 1 to 10, this product's cool factor is very, very high.
"Our goal is to build a reference monitor, rather than to produce the new flavor of the day," Westlake Audio's Glenn R. Phoenix told Stereophile. "Rather than boosting the bass or using multiple tweeters, we strive for reference neutrality." Hence the LC8.1 speaker system, which includes two top modules ($8000/pair) and two Lc8.1sw subwoofers with polypropylene drivers ($12,699/pair).
The well-known German company, Burmester, has introduced the Burmester Ambience BA 31 loudspeaker ($25,000/pair). Derived from its larger BA 71 sibling, this 2½-way system includes an AMT Mundorf tweeter in front, and an identical "continuously adjustable" one in back to maximize omnidirectional effects.
Accuphase's head of engineering, Masaomi Suzuki, introduced the company's new P-7300 flagship class-A/B stereo power amplifier ($32,000). The amp claims ultra-low noise and a super-high damping factorthe clipping power is higher than before, and the amp is 50% quieter than its predecessorand outputs 125Wpc into 8 ohms. Its versatility extends to outputting 800Wpc into 1 ohm, which means that loudspeakers with challenging, amp-wilting impedance curves should not present insurmountable problems.
GamuT designer Benno Baun Meldgaard, whose 41 years give the lie to those who suggest that the High End is populated solely by old fart engineers, joined Audio Skies distributor Michael Vamos (left in photo) for the press launch of GamuT's new "no-compromise" loudspeaker, the Zodiac ($139,000/pair). Featuring a cabinet composed of 27 layers of wood of different thicknesses, a new tweeter and companion drivers, and phase alignment between the crucial frequencies of 200 Hz15 kHz, the Zodiac comes with a massive spiked stand adjustable according to listening distance. It is designed to have the agility and speed of a stand-mount. Only 12 pairs will be built a year, which to my way of thinking makes the point-to-point wired speaker an instant collector's item, and each pair will be fine-tuned at the buyer's home by Meldgaard.
Jeff Rowland's Model 725 S2 monoblocks ($34,000/pair) have been out maybe four years, but now include new error-correction circuitry originally developed for the Jeff Rowland 625 S2. Also of import are ceramic circuit boards, 4-pole Jensen capacitors, and virtually immeasurable distortion from 20Hz20kHz. The class-A/B amps deliver 330Wpc into 8 ohms, and have fully balanced transformer coupled inputs as well as switch-mode power supplies with power-factor correction. The display was passive, with Rowland's active system, complete with Nordost cabling, showcasing other products.
Good sound was a notable achievement given that the new Genesis Forte loudspeakers ($140,000/pair) had been shipped to Las Vegas a mere two days after assembly, and had only three days of break-in on them.
The latest version of the VK-655SE monoblock amplifiers ($33,000/pair) from BAT (Balanced Audio Technology) may have been out for awhile, but CES marked their first appearance at any show. A dual-mono design available in both stereo and monoblock configurations, the amp exuded beautiful tube-like warmth (without the use of tubes) on a recording of Tchaikovsky's Symphony 6, with TAD loudspeakers.
As with Wilson Audio, Magico presented its latest S5 Mk.II loudspeaker ($38,000/pair in M-Cast finish, $42,750/pair in M-Coat finish) in static display. The only element of the original S5 design retained in the Mk.II is the identical extruded aluminum cabinet. All drivers, distilled from the research that culminated in the S7 loudspeaker, are new. The tweeter is a 1" MB7 beryllium dome, and the midrange unit a 6" Graphene NanoTec carbon. This midrange is claimed to have a stronger molecular structure than standard carbon, but is 20% lighter and 30% stiffer than its predecessor.