DEQX's PDC3 preamp/processor (price tdb) combines an analog preamplifier with a DAC and measurement-driven DSP. In a hotel room with zero treatment, Jon Iverson and I were enthralled by the three dimensional soundstaging of a pair of B&W 805s and a pair of B&W ASW 700s. Nope, it wasn't because the CD player was fabulous, either—it was solid, but not audiophile approved.
Hansen Audio needed a speaker that wasn't quite as, um, lordly as its $65,000/pair King floorstanders, so Lars Hansen designed the $49,000/pair Emperors. The four driver three-ways are constructed of Hansen's composite matrix material in an enclosure that employs Sound Wave Refraction Distortion Elimination technology. The midrange (7.2") and bass (10.6") drivers are all multilayer composite sandwiches.
Roy Hall was blunt as usual. "I'm bringing in some obscenely expensive tubes. They're Telefunken ECC803Ses, which is one of the best tubes available, but Cool Valve measures them and selects the most perfectly matched, and then bonds their EAT Cool Damper to them. The result is lower operational temperatures, longer life, and lower microphonics. They cost . . . "
If $250 per tube seems too dear, you can supply your own 12AX7, ECC 83, E83CC, 7025, 5751, 7058, 7729, 6681, CV492, CV8156, or 6057—and add Cool Valve's Eat Cool dampers for $40 each, as seen on the right..
Proac's $6000/pair Response D-28 was making real music connected to Sugden's $3000 CD21SE and $4000 A21SE 30Wpc integrated amplifier. I eyed the 42.5" floorstander, noting its 1" silk dome tweeter and 6.5" midrange/woofer—but I saw no port.
Sugden's US importer analog George Stanwick proudly preens with his A21SE 30wpc Class-A integrated amp and CD21SE CD player. What made the Keith Jarrett trio sound so good—was it the electronics or was it the Proac Response D28s?
Naum Dorkhman was chuffed about Audes' new Excellence series of loudspeakers. "I told he engineers to take a blank sheet of paper and make loudspeakers that would satisfy audiophiles, not the bean counters," he said.