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."
TBI's Jan Plummer is so proud and punched up about his $400/pair Majestic Diamond 1 single driver loudspeakers that he seems to shimmer—as if he's transporting between this plane of existence and another one.
Anthony Gallo has long had a reputation for wresting top dollar performance from small packages, but we've always wondered if he secretly hankered to go big. Anthony Gallo Acoustics' $15,000/pair Reference 5LS certainly answered that question.