With its forthcoming BHK Signature 250 amplifier ($7500), PS Audio's Paul McGowan (above) has stepped outside his own self-imposed price point box. By inviting his longtime friend and colleague, Bascom H. King (Constellation, Infinity, Infinity class-A, Conrad-Johnson, and Marantz), to create his magnum opus without regard to price, his goal was to make, in his own words, "one of the top five amplifiers in the world."
What better way to end a day than to move from Magico/Soulution/Baetis/BAD/Vovox to a system in which dCS's digital statement, the ne plus ultra Vivaldi four-stack marvel (something like $108,496 plus all those cables to power and connect it), Dan D'Agostino Momentum monoblock amplifiers ($55,000/pair), Transparent MM2 cabling, and the new Rockport Cygnus loudspeakers ($62,500/pair). The sound was very different than Magico's on the next floor of the Mirage, and equally extraordinary.
In the first system to which I took a serious listen at CES, Alon Wolf could have made no more major a statement than by pairing his Magico Q7 loudspeakers ($185,000/pair) and new active QSub-18 ($36,000) with Soulution 701 monoblock amplifiers ($150,000/pair), Soulution 720 preamp (discontinuedthe current 725 line stage is $50,000), Berkeley Audio Design Reference DAC ($16,000), Baetis Audio music server, Vovox cabling from Switzerland, Magico MRack ($50,000), and superb Magico QPOD equipment supports.
"What kills me is that in my own showroom I have the same Wilson Alexia loudspeakers that Nagra is using, but they sound better in their set-up, and they aren't even using room treatment," lamented a retailer whose identity shall forever remain unspoken. What better compliment can one pay to Nagra's forthcoming HD amplifiers?
Is it an "implosive sound center" that offers, in Devialet's words, "The Best Sound in the World1000 Times Superior to Current Systems," or is it an overblown puffer fish? Such thoughts crossed my mind as a young, computer-happy Devialeter, standing behind a curtain, fed techno music to the Phantom ($1990) and Silver Phantom ($2390), whose side panels in turn pumped in and out as it flooded a large suite in the Mirage with the driving beat of increasingly loud music that, if pumped through the water, might lead a poor puffer to puff its last.
Closing three days of Hi-Res presentations at CES 2015 were (from leftright) Maureen Droney, Senior Executive Director of The Recording Academy's Producers and Engineers Wing and a recording engineer who has worked with Santana and John Hiatt; Marc Finer, whose Digital Entertainment Group (DEG) consults with Sony and other entities as he attempts to align messaging on the hi-res front; and Robert Heiblim, Vice Chair of the Consumer Electronics Association's (CEA) Audio Division.
"The High End needs products that can demonstrate to customers why they should spend more money for the high-end," Dave Nauber, President of Classé, told me. "Thus we've introduced the Sigma Series, a new range of products with prices half those of our other products."
Rotel previewed three new "best ever" models at CES. Although the passive display allowed for little more than photo and note taking, I learned that the brand new RC-1590 DAC/preamplifier ($1749), which ships in March, promises to be "the best stereo preamplifier Rotel has ever made."
In this case, it's the Bowers & Wilkins T-7 battery-operated Bluetooth loudspeaker ($349). Shipping now, this baby holds a charge for 18 hours, and takes four hours to fully recharge. The T-7 can pair with up to eight devices, has two 3" full-range drivers and one passive radiator. "It's just a lot of fun," says regional sales director Marc Schnoll.
Siltech has just released its Siltech Triple Crown interconnects (est. price in Europe, US prices still be determined, 20,000/1m pair) and speaker cables (est. price 35,000/2m pair). Touted as "cable royalty... sets new benchmark for interconnect and speaker cable performance," these major lookers utilize the company's newest mono-crystal technology. According to Lennart Thissen, who designed the cable's unique mechanical parts, they have "the lowest capacitance of any cable we know."