Manley Labs' Evanna Manley was deeply involved in discussion so I asked around about what new amps/preamps are showing. The answer was that, since there were no new products being introduced, they decided to present their current offerings to emphasize their aesthetics by having them framed and hung. Point taken. Picture taken.
Dynaudio North America's Michael Manousselis was proudly demonstrating the Danish parent company's Contour S 3.4 LE speakers with the new Octave V 110 integrated amplifier ($8000), a fixed-bias pentode design that has been optimized specifically for the KT120 tube. Features include wideband output transformers while utilizing soft-start circuitry, extensive monitoring and protection circuitry, as well as an energy-saving EcoMode feature.
While his multipurpose integrated amp lurked in the background, I took immediate notice of Dan D'Agostino's hulky 6U form-factor multichannel amplifier, the Cinema Standard. Available with two ($12,000) and three ($15,000) channels, it offers 250Wpc into 8ohms and doubles down to 500 into 4 and 1000 into 2, at 0.1% total harmonic distortion! Now that's dynamic headroom.
I visited the Burson room because I retain a strange interest in this Australian company’s innovative discrete op-amp modules even though I am long past my DIY years. (JA has a pair of Burson's op-amp modules in for evaluation.)
The big news at Ayre is that the standing range of "5"-series components is being upgraded to "The Twenty Editions," which incorporate the circuit and performance facilities of the well-received flagship KX-R Twenty, MX-R Twenty and VX-R Twenty.
Nelson Pass's introductory claim was modest: "Pass simply added some input selection and level control to the front end to turn these amplifiers into new integrated models." What I saw were two impressive integrated amps that are clearly derived from the larger Point 8 amps.
In addition to the Steinway Lyngdorf components which are designed to work as a system, Lyngdorf showed components which can integrate with other brands. Included were the SDA-2400 power amp (400Wpc, $2400) and the TDAI-2170 stereo digital integrated amplifier (170Wpc, $4000).
All the Harman boys were over at the Hard Rock Hotel rather than the official CES sites, but I was able to swing by on my way to the airport to see the new statement amp from Mark Levinson, the No.536.
The new Jadis JA120 monoblock amplifierss ($27,900/pair) were driving a pair of Estelon XA speakers to lusty levels at the Bluebird Music room. The design uses the newish KT120 output tubes, six per amp, and, with an additional front-end tube and a higher-gain driver stage, each JA-120 is claimed to be capable of 100W of pure class-A output.
Possibly, the most beautiful design I saw CES was the new Absolare Passion 845 push-pull amplifier ($40,000/pair) and they were handily driving a pair of Rockport Avior speakers. As with the earlier Passion 845 single-ended amp, the push-pull amp sports a pair of glowing 845 power tubes but by adding a pair of EL-34 drivers after the input 12AT7, Absolare is able to increase the output palpably from 45W to 85W of zero-feedback power while remaining substantially in class-A operating mode.