EgglestonWorks, who manufacture loudspeakers in Memphis, Tennesee, introduced a all-new version of their 150 lb, Nine Signature loudspeaker ($18,900/pair). This is a three-way speaker that uses a 1” dome tweeter, a sealed midrange section that incorporates two all-new carbon-fiber 6" midrange drivers, and a new dual-ported 8" bass driver, and is spec'd from 25Hz20kHz, 3dB. This floorstander was powered by a new Rogue Audio Sphinx hybrid class-D integrated stereo amplifier ($1295), which played digital music files sourced through a dCS Puccini DAC and CD player.
McIntosh's exhibit area in the Venetian Towers was busier than usual when I entered, and I soon found out why. Whereas most manufacturers in high performance audio were content to introduce one or two products, McIntosh seemed determined to introduce many, many new products. I could not mention them all, but Ron Cornelius, McIntosh's Product Manager, helped me focus on four products he felt of greatest interest to audiophiles. First, he showed me McIntosh's new Digital Preamplifier ($2500, above). This featured a new ESS DAC chip that operates its 8 channels in differential balanced mode for improved resolution. It includes a headphone amplifier, and four digital inputs: two optical, one coax, and one high-speed, asynchronous USB port.
At this year's CES, Sumiko's John-Paul Lizars introduced me to REL Acoustics’ new R528 SE sub-bass system. He described it as an "ultra-high output version of the R528" but also as a more compact version of the company's flagship Gibraltar 1 subwoofer. The R528 SE is half the weight (58 lbs instead of 108 lbs), 43% of the volume, and 61% of the cost of the G1 ($2750 instead of $4499). While the larger G1 has a 600W class-AB amplifier, the R528 SE has a 500W class-D amplifier. Both subwoofers utilize REL's aluminum-chassis, 12", carbon-fibercone woofer, but the R528 SE adds a downward-firing 12" passive radiator. Low-frequency response are not that different, with the R528 SE's 6dB point at 21Hz, and the Gibraltar 1's 15Hz. Many audiophiles and home-theater fans may end up favoring the more compact new subwoofer.
Enigmacoustics' Sopranino add-on electrostatic super-tweeter ($3900/pair) was innovative enough to garner a 2013 CES Design and Engineering Showcase Honors award. Mounted on a gray and white glass stand, the anodized aluminum cabinet and almost square speaker panel is small, measuring 7.2" x 7.7" x 8.3", and weighs 10.4 lbs each.
At the 2012 CES, Soulution Audio's Cyrill Hamer introduced me to the Swiss company's reference line of 700 monoblock amplifier ($130,000/pair) and the dual-mono, dual-differential 710 stereo (now $55,000) amplifier Michael Fremer reviewed and liked so much in August 2011. At this year's CES, Soulution presented its less-expensive 500 line. While keeping the same appearance as the Reference line, the 500 line features different internal designs, including the company's first integrated amplifier, the 530 integrated preamplifier/amplifier ($49,000).
Octave's new MRE 220 tube monoblock amplifiers ($67,500/pair), which use KT 120 tubes, and Jubilee tube preamplifier ($36,000), both imported by Dynaudio USA, were used to power the new Dynaudio Evidence Platinum floorstanding loudspeakers ($85,000/pair). Source equipment included a Octave's new MRE 220 tube monoblock amplifiers ($23,700/pair), which use KT 120 tubes, and Jubilee tube preamplifier ($36,000), both imported by Dynaudio USA, were used to power the new Dynaudio Evidence Platinum floorstanding loudspeakers ($85,000/pair). Source equipment included a dCS Scarlatti digital front-end, Clearaudio Ovation turntable with Universal 9" tonearm ($32,000) and Clearaudio Da Vinci cartridge ($5000). Dynaudio's Mike Manousselis played me Sibelius's Finlandia, which showed off the Evidence Platinum's ability to create a large deep soundstage and amazing ability to reproduce a smooth string sound.
According to T+A (Theory plus Application) ElektroAkustik's Lothar Wiemann, the manufacturer is one of Germany's largest electronics companies. (It is distributed in the US and Canada by Dynaudio North America.) This company makes the 1000 W M10 monoblock hybrid amplifiers ($33,0000/pair), where the output stage uses tubes to handle the voltage and transistors handle the current.
Simaudio Moon's Lionel Goodfield, Vice President of Marketing, spent a relaxed half hour discussing amplifiers, cars, and various other topics of mutual interest. Along the way, he introduced the Moon Evolution 860A dual-mono amplifier ($14,000), shown sitting by itself in front of the other Simaudio products. The amplifier delivers 200Wpc into 8 ohms, 400Wpc into 4 ohms, 800Wpc into 2 ohms, the power doubling "all the way down to 1 ohm." It features special output devices made by Motorola for Simaudio. The sound from the Dynaudio C1 Signatures was clear, fast, smooth, and open.
Audio Research had live demonstrations of a number of new products, including its new CD transport, the vacuum tube Reference CD-9 player ($13,000) and the vacuum-tube Reference 10 line stage preamplifier ($30,000). These were included in a system with their vacuum tube Reference Phono2 SE phono preamplifier ($13,000), their Reference D/A converter ($16,000), Reference 250 monoblocks ($26,000/pair), and a pair of DSM450M solid-state power amplifiers ($11,000/pair). The Ref250s and DSM450s were used to bi-amp a pair of Sonus Faber Aida speakers.
Perfect8 Techologies' exhibit suite at the Venetian proved to be one of the most crowded I entered. Perfect's CEO, Jonas Rantila, was introducing his new floorstanding speaker, the Point Mark II Evolution ($115,000/pair). This three-way, speaker features an Air-Motion Transformer tweeter and two midrange drivers mounted on a glass baffle (there's no enclosure for the tweeter or midrange drivers), sitting on a single glass-enclosure housing a pair of 10" subwoofers powered by a 400W, DSP-controlled amplifier hidden within the enclosure. Power for the midrange and tweeter was supplied by a 165 lb, 500Wpc, solid-state Bridge Audio Laboratory (BAlabo) BP-1 Mk.II stereo power amplifier ($88,500). The BP-1's importer, Fred Nadel, told me that the amplifier's output stage runs in class-A for the first 40 watts.