Amidst the glorious sound of Scaena loudspeakers and Veloce's battery-powered electronics (among other goodies) ran Rick Schultz's new High Fidelity cables. Alan Eichenbaum of Scaena reports that when the Schultz sent him some samples, he gave them a try and thought they were "quite good." I'll say. Only available with RCA terminations, Eichenbaum used them as interconnects and speaker cable in his demo, mating them with Nordost Odin power cables. If you judge cables by the company they keep, High Fidelity's are surely upper class. Although Schultz was not present, I later discovered that his Texas-made cables are distributed in the US by Brian Ackerman of Aaudio Imports pictured above.
English manufacturer Chord Electronics is known for its sophisticated CD players, which use sophisticated DACs. Indeed there was a huge picture denoting Chord's latest-generation DAC, the QBD 76, at the center of the back wall. As my beat was amplifiers, Chord's designer, John Franks (pictured above), spent the next 30 minutes walking me through the design of Chord's latest amplifier, the SPM 1200 Mk.II ($14,000), a solid-state, 350Wpc stereo mode. The amplifier sits at the bottom of the short stack of audio equipment John is leaning on. He explained that the amplifier has a high-frequency, 2kW, switch-mode power supply, and uses an output stage based on dual-die, lateral-structure MOSFETs with a soft turn/on-turn/off characteristic. This allowed John to use a sliding class-AB design.
Named for the Italian word for "wave," three-year old Onda Cables of Calgary, Alberta, Canada has announced its top-of-the-line Onda Riptide ($5800/1m pair). The cables have their own proprietary solid-core silver pin in their RCA terminations, and a combination of 13, 14, 16, and 10-gauge wire. Their Riptide power cord ($5800/5 ft) combines 8 and 16 gauge wires for maximum speed, rhythm, and pace. Onda's Riptide speaker cable ($8900/8 ft pair) uses 9-gauge conductors, augmented with 13 and 16. Owner and designer Greg Kozokowsky learned a lot of his technology from his work as an engineer in Canada's oil sands.
On January 10, the third day of CES, Michael Lavorgna, Jon Iverson, Stephen Mejias and I flocked to the Flamingo, home of the T.H.E. Show. There I made a first acquaintance with Coda Technologies, a company based 90 or so minutes from me in Sacramento, California. All Coda products are designed, manufactured, and assembled in the good ole USA, and come with a 10 year warranty, transferrable for 5 years.
Theta Digital, the pioneer of digital separates, announces the mighty Prometheus monoblocks ($12,000/pair). Heard in pre-production mode, with bass so strong and tight that it sent me into the hallway to discuss the product, the 200Wpc into 8 ohms monoblock is due out "within 90 days" (to quote a mantra oft-repeated at CES 2013).
The earth's ecology may be upside down, but Kevin Deal of Upscale Audio displayed PrimaLuna's new DiaLogue Premium integrated amplifier ($3299) that way for a positive reason. "It has a laundry list of the best parts," he declared, handing me a sheet that touts oxygen-free continuous-crystal copper, silver-plated, Teflon-dielectric point-to-point wiring; Takman audiophile grade resistors, and SRC tinfoil capacitors in critical signal paths; and an Alps potentiometer. The DiaLogue Premium is claimed to have such a good auto-biasing mechanism that you can mix and match 6L6GC/KT66, EL-34/KT77, 6550/KT88, and KT120 power tubes in any combination or permutation you so choose, and a bad tube indicator in case your sonic Devil's Brew won't cut it on the particular day that you hope to impress your mother-in-law. "Call it 40Wpc," said Kevin, "but it's not underpowered; it's huge power." There's only one way to find out what that means.
Bret d'Agostino's Bully Sound Company has introduced the BSC 60s power amplifier ($7950), a pure class-A design that promises 60Wpc into 8 ohms, with output doubling down to 1 ohm. Neal Van Berg of Colorado's Sound Science claims that it gets deeper bass out of his Harbeths than any other amplifier he's used. One novel feature of the design is its internal heatsinks, which add to its handsome looks.
Torus Power of Toronto has introduced two new power conditioners. The In-Wall Mount Power Conditioner (price TBD upon release in March), held by Matthew Roher, Business Development Manager, is an entry-level product that includes surge suppression, noise filtration. The black AVR2 ($4995), shows to Roher's right, offers an additional level of IP control to the company's AVR series, maintains a stable 120V, and includes an automatic shut-off designed to handle quick voltage changes.
Audioquest has filled out its series of ethernet cables. In the photo, the company's Shane Buettner holds the top of the line Diamond ($1095/1.5 meter) ethernet cable, which features 100% PSS (pure silver) and Audioquest's DBS dielectric bio-system, whose battery pack puts a DC bias on the cable's insulation. Also new is the cable right beneath it, the Vodka ($249/1.5 meter), composed of silver-plated copper. The cable's extremely solid connectors are a major step above the plastic terminations found on stock ethernet cables.
Daddy Vitus, watch out! Your equipment designer son Alexander, whose relatively young company you've helped bankroll, is hot on your heels. On display were the new Alluxity Pre ONE preamplifier ($8000) and Power ONE amplifier ($11,000). Not yet available in the US, though that may change shortly, the chassis are milled from a single aluminum block. A brief listen to Billie Holiday revealed a nice three-dimensionality, as well as the hard edge that plagued numerous systems on the 29th floor of the Venetian.