It's hardly the same as clicking your heels three times and finding yourself back in Kansas, but Stereophile's metaphoric Good Witch of the High End, John Atkinson, has granted me my big wish for CES. Instead of finding myself wandering around and around in circles, following my ears, I’ve been assigned specific turf: T.H.E. Show. And since T.H.E. Show’s two venues, the St. Tropez and adjacent Alexis Park, are literally across the street from our bloggers' home for four nights, the newly and quite tastefully refurbished, remarkably low-key Hyatt Place Las Vegas (formerly the AmeriSuites), yours truly could not be happier. The Sands/Venetian may have more–well-known, higher-profile players, and is certainly attracting more visitors, but I've entered a number of wonderful-sounding rooms on my first day at the St. Tropez to make me quite happy to be here.
Reference Recordings, the Bay Area-based audiophile label founded by John T. "Tam" Henderson in 1976, has adopted a unique approach to computer and music server playback. Later this month, the company will begin to market what they call "HRx" discs. Incompatible with conventional optical disc players, these are data discs containing WAV files intended for playback on computer-based music servers. Each HRx is a digit-for-digit copy of an original Reference Recordings 24-bit/176.4kHz digital master. The format is slated for audition during this week's CES. It can be heard in the TAD, FIM, and Magico rooms at the Venetian, as well as in On a Higher Note's Vivid/Luxman suite at the Mirage. Actual HRx discs will be available soon thereafter.
When Hong Kong–based music lover and electronics-equipment distributor Klaus Heymann (footnote 1), now 70, first began organizing classical-music concerts as a way to boost sales, he had no idea he would end up founding the world's leading classical-music label. But after starting a record-label import business and meeting his future wife, leading violinist Takako Nishizaki, the German-born entrepreneur sought a way to promote her artistry. First he founded the HK label, which specialized in Chinese symphonic music (including Nishizaki's recording of Butterfly Lovers, the famous violin concerto by Chen Gang). Next he established Marco Polo, a label devoted to symphonic rarities.
Starbucks, look out! ArkivMusic is on your tail. Just in time for the holidays, the Internet's major classical-music site has teamed up with the Canadian Brass to create ArkivMusic's first new recording, Christmas Tradition: Music for Brass and Organ. The CD, recorded for the Canadian Brass's own label, Opening Day (ODR 7345), includes music by composers who, over the years, have written some of the ensemble's favorite music and arrangements.
One year after the Consumer Electronics Show switched venues from the Alexis Park to The Venetian/Sands Expo and Convention Center, leaving "renegade" exhibitors at T.H.E. Show's less costly St. Tropez venue isolated from the rest of the action, both shows are back stronger than ever. CES's "high-performance audio" exhibits in the Venetian's Tower Suites have increased to 173 from 122, while T.H.E. Show has expanded to a total of 90 exhibit rooms in the Alexis Park and the St. Tropez.
The Consumer Electronics Association (CEA) has taken major steps to ensure that the 2008 edition of its International Consumer Electronics Show, to take place in Las Vegas, Nevada, January 7–10, will provide a model for sustainable and energy-efficient practices. According to CEA president and CEO Gary Shapiro, the world's largest international trade show for consumer technologies is "the first tradeshow of our size to reduce our carbon footprint. We will do so by reducing energy consumption, increasing our recycling efforts, improving efficiency where possible, and making strides toward offsetting our unavoidable emissions. . . . [We intend to give] this industry an opportunity to be a positive force for change and integral to environmental solutions that will ensure future generations inherit a healthy planet."
Theta Digital, the "Digital Done Right" pioneer of separate DACs and transports, has been sold to Amplifier Technologies, Inc. ATI has pledged to immediately begin work on selected Theta audiophile and home-theater products.
Olive Media Products, manufacturers of audiophile-quality Olive music servers, has partnered with MusicGiants, the leading site for CD-quality music downloads. Olive's well-received Opus line of digital players now allows users to download, store, manage, and play large collections of CD-quality music directly from MusicGiants without needing to buy or rip CDs, select track by track, or use a computer. (You can find John Atkinson's positive review of the Olive Symphony here.)
Nordost has entered the realm of stratospherically-priced cabling with the introduction of Odin interconnects and speaker cable. With Odin interconnects draped around Lars of Nordost's neck, and the speaker cable seen running between Raidho Ayra C3 speakers and Burmester 001 CD, BAT preamp, and Gamut D-200 amplifier (a last-minute replacement for an ailing Burmester amp), the combination of Odin interconnects and speaker cable and Nordost Valhalla power cables—Odin power cables are yet to come —delivered one of the most breathtakingly realistic depictions of a huge, three-dimensional soundstage I've ever experienced. It's you-are-there transparency was pretty damn amazing. I greatly look forward to reacquainting myself with this cabling at CES 2008, and promise to report on it in my show blog if five other Stereophile colleagues don't get to the Nordost room before me. But oh, the price, which is in the "don't ask" category, adds JA.