With so much new equipment to cover, and so little time, I only listened to a handful of systems at CES. One of the few that really wowed me to the core was in the “Made in the USA” Absolare room at T.H.E. Show. The system mated the parallel single-ended 52W Absolare Passion 845 monoblock amplifiers ($37,500) and single-ended Absolare Passion preamplifier ($25,000)both manufactured in New Hampshirewith a full MSB digital systemMSB Signature DATA CD IV transport ($7995), MSB Diamond DAC Plus with Femto Second Galaxy Clock ($38,950), MSB Signature Transport Powerbase ($3495), and MSB Diamond Power Base ($5995)Rockport Technologies Altair II loudspeakers ($100,000/pair), Absolare Bybee Purifier ($7250), Absolare Speaker Bullets ($3750/set of four), and Echole cables.
The big news from UK-based Naim is the arrival of the company’s first asynchronous USB DAC, the DAC-VI ($2395). Its companion in size is the new NAP 100 discrete-transistor, compact power amplifier ($1295). Production on both begins in February. To focus first on the amp, which is in my CES blogging territory of amps and preamps in the $2500$15,000 price range, the NAP 100 is a dual-mono design that outputs 50Wpc into 8 ohms and 100 into 4, and is said to incorporate a linear power supply with a “large toroidal transformer and audiophile grade selected components” into a non-magnetic, low resonance, compact chassis and sleeve.
Beneath the striking fascias of B.M.C. electronics lies some advanced engineering. As best I could gather from a rather zippy introduction that had me scrambling to write everything down coherently, the B.M.C. M2 monoblock amplifiers ($7790/each) contain LEF (load-effect-free) circuitry that delivers the signal, voltage, and necessary current independently. This purportedly allows them to handle complex speaker loads without need for global feedback. (There’s more to say, of course, but I don’t trust my scrawl.) The M2 outputs 200W into 8 ohms, and 380W into 4. Designed in Germany but manufactured in China, each monoblock weighs 88 lbs and includes a 2kVA transformer.
LA Audio was but one of many companies who journeyed to Las Vegas in hopes of securing U.S. distribution. New to their line is the P-845 II monoblock ($12,000), a push-pull design that outputs 60Wpc and has a frequency response of 20Hz100kHz. This is the most expensive product from a company with a 20-year history in Taiwan.
The new Octave V110 push-pull pentode integrated amplifier ($8300) from Germany, distributed by Dynaudio, is a KT120-based product whose protection circuit is described as “bullet proof.” To demonstrate what that means, speaker wire terminations on one of the channels were intentionally crossed; not only did nothing blow, but the left channel, which was properly connected to a loudspeaker, continued to play. The Octave V110 is thus the perfect amp for folks who use battery cables to jump-start their cars, and then celebrate by clapping both clamps together.
Fresh from Primare, the Swedish company whose name, correctly pronounced “prime air,” derives from the fact that audio moves air, were two new prototypes with unfinished faceplates: the PRE60 preamp/DAC ($10,000 target price) and A60 stereo power amplifier ($10,000 target price). Both are expected to ship by summer.
Even though Simaudio’s Costa Koulisakis once explained in near exhaustive detail the relationship between Moon products and Simaudio, all I can remember is how good the components sound. You too may go over the moon about the three new products in my blog price range. In numerical order, the Moon Evolution Series 610 LP phono preamplifier ($7000), based on the reference Moon 810LP that Michael Fremer reviewed in December 2012, is a dual-mono, fully balanced differential design with isolated oversized power supply with a pi-type filter; adjustable impedance loading, capacitance loading, and gain settings; and selectable equalization curves. It will even wash your windows.
I expect there’s a movie industry connection to the name of this cable company, whose new Kraken flagship power cable goes for $8400/1.5m. With internal wiring a silver-palladium alloy, the housing is a combination of carbon-fiber and epoxy resin. Even the ceramic plug is a composite, complete with pins that are a silver-copper alloy with palladium coating. They also look as good as you’d expect for cable that is 100% handmade in Pasadena.
Clarus Cable, launched less than two years ago at RMAF 2011, is based in Orlando, FL. Produced by Gordon J. Gow Technologies, and designed by Jay Victor, it was developed after Tributaries Cable dealers asked for a higher-end cable for their customers. According to Joey Perfito, National Product Specialist, the Ohno Continuous Casting Copper (OCCC) design consists of thick and thin-gauge conductors, each individually insulated, to transmit different frequencies, plus one long, flat conductor to help support the midrange. The boxes, designed for aesthetic purposes, conceal the start of silicon tubes on the terminations. Prices range from the Aqua interconnect ($500/1m RCA) to Crimson ($1000/1m RCA).