I got an email from Stereophile columnist John Marks Wednesday night, urging me to visit the room at the Venetian featuring speakers from retailer On Track Audio. I always do what I am told by my writers, so I looked in Thursday afternoon. There I auditioned the Directorate loudspeaker system, designed by mastering engineer Bill Roberts. All four cabinets are sealed boxes and are finished in exquisitely in-laid veneers, the work of On Track's Jim Carnes, who looks understandably pleased with his work in my photo. The sound with Belles amplification, and Kimber Kable, was very promising, I thought.
I couldn't resist posting this photo, not of a product, but of photos of a product, just to get Mikey Fremer all riled up about the fact that the Continuum Caliburn turntable, for which he forked out mucho dinero, is no longer the Big Dog of LP playback.
The Canadian Gershman Black Swan speaker ($30,000/pair), which mounts the tweeter and midrange unit in a separate A-frame enclosure to prevent their performance being affected by vibrations from the woofer, made its debut at HE2006 last May, and I was looking forward to hearing what it could do at CES.
Stephen Mejias mention Garth Powell's passion for what he does in his report from the Furman room at CES. AJ Conti, the man behind turntable manufacturer Basis Audio, has a similar passion for what he does. His current attention is focused on getting the drive belts for his well-regarded turntables as flat as possible, to eliminate the last vestige of drive-system spuriae from the audio recovered from vinyl. Dissatisfied with the highest precision he could get from commercial ground-belt vendors, he invested in his own production machinery.
Every CES has its impressive, cost-no-object audio systems, but one of the better sounds I heard at the Show, in terms of superb vocal articulation and an excellent overall balance, came fron a relatively affordable system in the Avalon suite in the Aladdin Hotel. Based on the Colorado company's new NP2.0 two-way towers ($1995/pair), which feature two Kevlar-cone woofers and Avalon's proprietary composite-dome tweeter, driven by an Ayre Acoustics AX7 integrated amp and a Cary CD306 player, the system showed that you don't have to drop megabux on a system to get musically satisfying sound.
When I reviewed KEF's top-line Reference 207 loudspeaker in February 2004, it featured a supertweeter perched atop the module housing the coaxial Uni-Q tweeter/midrange driver to achieve true ultrasonic performance. A redesign of the Uni-Q driver, the tweeter in particular, has meant that the supertweeter could be dispensed with for the Mk.2 version, launched at the 2007 CES.
When Stereophile webmaster Jon Iverson speaks, I listen, so when, in a conversation the night before the Show opened, he mentioned that he felt wireless speakers would be big in 2007, I looked out for examples.
English speaker company Monitor Audio has been producing a range of excellent affordable speakers since its managment buyout nine years ago, including the Silver RS6 tower that so impressed Bob Reina last March. Their suite at the Hilton, however, saw the Platinum series, an assault on the state of the speaker art from a design team led by Dean Hartley (above).
Mikey had brought along to the JBL Everest demo CD-Rs burned with dubs of his favorite LPs played on his Continuum Caliburn turntable. We listened to Ella Fitzgerald, Roy Orbison, Joni Mitchell, and John Lennon, but it was when Mikey asked Greg to play track one on the second CD-R that the listeners visibly relaxed and the room filled up with good vibes.