We're stunned at how few exhibitors spend money for the larger rooms on the 35th floor of the Venetian, since they are so sonically impressive. Sumiko's room with the $28,000 SME 2012, $6000 Audio Research PH7, $10,000 Audio Research Reference 3, Audio Research Reference 210 monoblock amplifiers ($9000/each), and brand-spanking new $25,000/pair Vienna Acoustic Die Musik loudspeakers had us glued to the sweet spot.
It exists; we saw it for ourselves! Wadia's $349 iTransport can take the digital signal out of an iPod before the DAC, outputting 16-bit/44.1khz resolution for uncompressed files—it doesn't upconvert lower-rez files like MP3s, but it does reformat them to 16/44.1, according to Wadia's John Schaffer.
We'd been told to check out Boulder's new music server, but that's not exactly what the $24,000 1021 Disc Player is. It's a CD player (with a few other formats "to be announced") that uses a computer disc drive to feed a one-minute buffer to "preserve the integrity of the audio signal delivered from the drive. "Also," confided Steve Rockwell, "the clock is about this far [pinches fingers together], so jitter is phenomenally low."
Sumiko was showing the $2495 Primare DVD110 DVD/CD player/reciever. It's a two channel unit with a class-D 102Wpc amplifier and a couple of features you don't see on most stereo components: a subwoofer and 1080p video outs.
The three phase power supply is pure Ayre. There are three amplifiers, one for each phase. "Essentially, they are mini-MXRs," said Silberman. They are 120 degrees out of phase with one another, and we need to tune each one with a stethoscope to achieve absolute pitch stability. The result?
We were stunned to see Roger Skoff in the Ultralink/XLO room—we thought he'd retired years ago. "I did," he explained, "but I was asked to design some new stuff incorporating new technologies and more advanced versions of our existing designs."
"Recent advances in solid-state output devices and other components have opened up design possibilities never previously available," Audio Research's Terry Dorn explained. "And that led to our developing the Hybrid Drive HD220 stereo power amplifier ($8995)."
At CES 2006, Jon Iverson and I were impressed by Studio Electric's $8500 Type One modules, even though the mating $3500 XLR woofer modules weren't operating. This year Studio Electric was showing off a pair of the $15,500/pair Type Two towers, which were pure art deco chromed metal work.