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John Atkinson Posted: Feb 23, 2016 Published: Mar 01, 2016 13 comments
One of the benefits of belonging to the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE) is a subscription to their monthly magazine, IEEE Spectrum. Superbly written and edited, this journal keeps me up to date on emerging technology, and entertains me with things like reprints, on the final page, of vintage advertisements. Their January 2016 issue, for example, featured an ad from December 1920, promoting the Victor Talking Machine Company's Victrola: "By all means get a Victrola this Christmas, but be sure it is a Victrola and not some other instrument made in imitation. $25 to $1500. Victor dealers everywhere."
John Atkinson Posted: Jan 27, 2016 29 comments
Like all men, I learned at an early age to resist the allure of a pretty face.

Okay—I learned that I should try to resist the allure of a pretty face.

Okay, I confess: I have never been able to resist the allure of a pretty face. Which is why, when I first clapped eyes on the Mojo D/A headphone amplifier from English company Chord Electronics, at an event hosted by Manhattan retailer Stereo Exchange, I had to borrow a sample for review.

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John Atkinson Posted: Jan 16, 2016 4 comments
"For Unto Us a Boy is Born" was playing when I looked into MBL’s suite at the Venetian and the sound—open, spacious, uncolored, full-range, musically communicative—on MBL's unique 101E omnidirectional speakers was so appealing, I settled down in the hot set for the rest of the piece from Handel's Messiah. The speakers were being bi-amped by preproduction samples—US availability is scheduled for March—of new models from the German company’s Noble line...
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John Atkinson Posted: Jan 16, 2016 1 comments
Graham Nash auditioned the new gibbon X speakers in the DeVore Fidelity room, which featured an LP player with the longest Well-Tempered Tonearm made, at 18". It was great to see veteran designer William Firebaugh at the 2016 show, 30 years after his unique tonearm made its debut at CES, and still actively involved in high-end audio.
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John Atkinson Posted: Jan 16, 2016 1 comments
Synergistic Research's Ted Denney always puts on a good show at a show, and the 2016 CES was no exception. The sound in Synergistic's suite at the Mirage—Magico S7 speakers driven by McIntosh amplification (modified with Synergistic fuses)—was superb. Even though I didn't know the cut being played, "Hey Now" from London Grammar, there was an effortless sense of dynamics. Another of my best sounds at CES.
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John Atkinson Posted: Jan 16, 2016 0 comments
In its main room, YG was making great-sounding music with its Sonja 1.3 speakers ($106,800/pair), driven by a Boulder music server and amplification via Kubala-Sosna cables. I had loved the Sonja 1.3 when I reviewed it for our July 2013 issue, but the big news at CES was the Sonja XV, one channel of which was on passive display in a side room. A four-tower system, with the midrange and tweeter tower resembling a '1.3 on steroids and intended to celebrate the Colorado company’s forthcoming 15th anniversary, the 'XV will be priced at a whopping $265,900/system.
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John Atkinson Posted: Jan 16, 2016 2 comments
In our March 2016 issue, Art Dudley loved the sound of Metronome’s CD8 S CD player, which has USB and serial digital inputs, though I found some issues on the test bench. At CES, the French company was showing this elegant server, the Music Center 1 (price tba), which plays CDs, music from a USB stick, a NAS drive, or from its internal RAID3 array (1–6TB available).
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John Atkinson Posted: Jan 16, 2016 1 comments
Brian Barr was showing the SAE 2-horsepower amplifiers described earlier by Larry Greenhill with his $100,000 California Audio Technology speaker system, comprising CT MBXS6 two-way satellites and two MBX900 subwoofers. This system played more loudly, more cleanly than any I heard at CES.
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John Atkinson Posted: Jan 16, 2016 0 comments
When he visited the Vandersteen room at CES, Graham Nash said that what he really liked “was the midrange of that speaker system, that sounded like my voice. There was plenty of natural detail." Graham was listening to the new version of Vandersteen Audio’s Model 5A speaker, the 5A Carbon, which features the midrange unit from the Mk.II version of Vandersteen Model 7 speaker.
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John Atkinson Posted: Jan 16, 2016 2 comments
“Bruno Putzeys designed a switch-mode power supply for our new headphone amplifier,” enthused EveAnna Manley, when I bumped into her in one of the Venetian’s corridors. The tubed amp, which doubles as a line preamplifier, costs $2950 and is drop-dead gorgeous in Champagne & White, Titanium & Bronze, or Copper & Black finishes.

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