Rives Audio and Talon Audio (now owned by Rives) proudly introduced the Thunderhawk, a $25,000/pair, composite speaker consisting of the $10,000 Hawk positioned atop the Thunder cabinet. The latter’s woofer is available either with a passive crossover, or with the new Rives Sub Parc, fully adjustable active crossover, which includes a 1000W switching amplifier. Said to deliver full-range sound down to 18Hz, the system sounded absolutely seductive playing jazz vocalist Susanne Abbuehl’s Compass (ECM).
Thiel Audio had the benefit of several side-by-side rooms at the Venetian, one of which was reserved for listening with the door closed. Isolated from the noise of surrounding rooms, Thiel’s long-awaited CS3.7 speaker ($9900/pair in standard finishes when it’s finally released), and now actually boasting a grille, played an intriguing combination of two-channel and multi-channel music using Bryston electronics and Synergistic Research cabling.
In an enterprising attempt to serve music lovers via the Internet, Universal Classics has launched Decca Concerts. An unprecedented partnership between the label and some of the world's better-known symphony orchestras, the website gives classical music lovers the ability to download very recent live orchestral performances "from the world's most important musical cities." The performances are generally no more than 10 days old, depending on how much postproduction editing is needed.
The 2006 Grammy nominations are in, and audiophiles have much to rejoice about. In a year when far too many pundits are sounding the death knell for the CD in general and high-resolution formats in particular, there's a bumper crop of great sounding, high quality recordings vying for a listen.
Despite griping and grumbling about the change, many makers of high-performance audio gear appear to have settled on their new official venue at the annual Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas: the Venetian Resort Hotel Casino. Two months before the start of the 2007 CES (to be held January 8–11), all but 12 of the Venetian's 198 exhibit rooms and suites had already been sold.
What is the best environment in which to demonstrate and enjoy high-quality audio gear? According to Richard Rives Bird, founder and president of Rives Audio, the answer is simple: an acoustically engineered room.
For some system configurations, hotel rooms present near impossible challenges. Such was the case in one padded cell on the 5th floor of the Marriott Denver Tech Center, where the frustrated purveyors of a modestly priced A/V surround system raided the linen closet in a desperate attempt to tame errant sound. I didn’t have the heart to ask if the reflective surface of the black plastic tape might be making matters worse.