Bel Canto's John Stronczer made a bold decision to demonstrate exclusively with a music server streaming Music Giants. He ran the output from his laptop to the $2495 e.One DAC3 digital-to-analog processor and then directly to a pair of e.One REF1000 1000W monoblocks ($1995 each).
Lew Johnson pointed at the LP275M ($12,500). "This is something CJ hasn't done in a while: a high output tube monoblock. We use four pairs of 6550s to obtain 275W with our proprietary translinear transformers. We can configure it for 2, 4, 8, or 16 Ohm loads (standard is 4 Ohm). Like our most recent designs, we're using metal foil resistors and Teflon CJD capacitors. We'll be shipping them by February."
Ypsilon Electronics was a new name to me, so I wasn't sure what Jon Iverson and I would see when we entered its room. Whatever we expected, it wasn't the ginormous hybrid SET-100 monoblock amplifiers ($69,000/pair).
Von Schweikert Audio's VR-5 SEs ($25,000/pair) aren't new, but once again they impressed Jon Iverson and me with their verve and natural presentation of acoustic guitar. Nils Lofgren's "Keith Don't Go" kept us nailed to our seats for the whole 12 minutes—which, in CES Show mode, is equivalent to seven human years.
Pathos products don't resemble anything else in the audio world, but the $35,000/pair 150W Adrenaline Class-A monoblock is stunning even in a room packed with other Pathos gear. It's a zero feedback design and it sounded even more stunning than it looked.
Zanden's Kazutoshi Yamada builds amplifiers like Medieval villages built cathedrals: To glorify the quintessence. Jon Iverson and I were lured into his room because his Model 9600s were so . . . shiny (hey, we're guys, we're not complicated). Then we heard 'em driving the Ascendo System Z-F3 loudspeakers. Wowsers.
"I'm not done," Lew Johnson said. "I showed you our high-aspiration products, now here's one more from the heart: the ET250S is a more realistically priced product at $7500 for 250Wpc. At the heart of the amp is a single-ended triode amplifier that supplies the voltage gain. A high-current buffer stage couples that to the speaker load. That architecture gives you tube grace and finesse, but deliver all the brute force you need for any loudspeaker. We'll ship them in February."