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.
I visited the Kevro room to get another listen to the Monitor Audio Silver 8 speakers that I reviewed in January. However, I found that Kevro was bringing Cyrus electronics back to the US. The offerings were all in the tidy and familiar half-shoebox format that permits Cyrus devices to stack so neatly.
One of the trends in amplification this year is the large number of stereo integrated amplifiers with digital inputs. Among these, the Parasound Halo Integrated stands out for its impressive feature set.
For years, I have greeted Rogue's Mark O'Brien with the question, "Anything new in digital?" fully knowing that Rogue Audio is committed to vacuum tube-based analog. This time I asked "Anything new that is not digital?" and Mark beamed. Finally, I had asked the right question...