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John Atkinson Posted: Jan 28, 2007 0 comments
The first time I attended the Las Vegas Consumer Electronics Show, in January 1986, I didn't get there until the second day of the Show. Still, by the beginning of the fourth and final day I'd managed to visit every high-end audio exhibit, and still had time to go back for seconds to the rooms that had sounded the best. Twenty years later, CES has grown so much that it's impossible for a single writer to visit even a quarter of the exhibits in which he might be interested. And even with the sort of team reporting Stereophile now practices, covering the Show has become an exercise in applied logistics for the busy journalist: "Should I wait for the free shuttle bus? Should I get a taxi—though I might get caught in Las Vegas's increasing traffic jams, or even just get stuck at the city's interminable traffic lights? Or should I take the new monorail—though that goes nowhere near the hotel in which [insert name of hot company] is demming its products?"
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John Atkinson Posted: Jan 14, 2007 1 comments
Canadian speaker company PSB has majored in high-performance affordable speakers, with its tiny Alpha, introduced in 1992, becoming on of the best-selling speakers of all time. Designer Paul Barton (above), however, has been working on a flagship PSB speaker, which he demmed at the Lenbrook suite at the Hard Rock Hotel. Yet to be named, the new speaker will cost a still-affordable $4500/pair and spearheads a new line of six models to be introduced in the second quarter this year.
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John Atkinson Posted: Jan 14, 2007 0 comments
Covering a Show as large and as geographically diffuse as the CES invariably leads to moments of writer brainfade. I auditioned Sonus Faber's new Elipsa loudspeaker in the Sumiko suite at the Venetian on Tuesday evening just before the Show closed but had run out of space on my camera's memory card. Back in my hotel room Thursday evening, after the Show had closed until January 2008, I found my note to myself on my PDA reminding me that I needed to take the Elipsa's photo for this report. So words will have to suffice, I am afraid, as well as a link to Sonus Faber's website.
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John Atkinson Posted: Jan 14, 2007 0 comments
You'd think there was not much more to say when it came to horn speaker design. Yet there, in one of the Venetian's 29th-floor rooms was audible proof that progress can still be made. Designed by Japanese engineer Tetsuo Kubo (above), the Kubotek Haniwa SP1W33 horn speakers ($60,000/pair) use Electrovoice drivers loaded with midrange and low-frequency horns that continue the Tractrix flare around to the rear of the horn to minimize edge reflections. A separate DSP processor, the FPIC-100 Sound Signal Controller is used to correct the horns' phase characteristics independent of the amplitude response.
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John Atkinson Posted: Jan 14, 2007 2 comments
You'd think there was not much more to say when it came to horn speaker design. Yet there, in one of the Venetian's 29th-floor rooms was audible proof that progress can still be made. Designed by Japanese engineer Tetsuo Kubo (above), the Kubotek Haniwa SP1W33 horn speakers ($60,000/pair) use Electrovoice drivers loaded with midrange and low-frequency horns that continue the Tractrix flare around to the rear of the horn to minimize edge reflections. A separate DSP processor, the FPIC-100 Sound Signal Controller is used to correct the horns' phase characteristics independent of the amplitude response.
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John Atkinson Posted: Jan 14, 2007 0 comments
It's called the "Cocktail Party Effect." You may be immersed in the middle of a crowd of audiophiles all talking at once, but when someone says something that catches your attention, such as your name, you can focus on the sound of that person's voice and exclude the babble. The noise suppression can be 9–15dB; ie, the sound being concentrated on seems to be three to four times louder than the ambient noise, according to Wikipedia. The exact mechanism of the Cocktail Party Effect is not known, but it is conjectured that it has something to do with the binaural nature of human hearing: the fact that we have two ears allows us to apply spatial discrimination to what would otherwise be a jumble of sound.
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John Atkinson Posted: Jan 14, 2007 6 comments
I fell in love with the sound of the unique omnidirectional mbl tweeter when I reviewed mbl 111 loudspeaker in August 2002, so I always treat my ears by visiting the Berlin company's room the last morning of a Show. At the 2007 CES, they were showing this: an assault on the state of the speaker art based on two the mbl 101E's upper-frequency modules mounted on top of one another, with separate active woofer towers. The excess of glass in the hotel suite led to a rather uptilted high-treble balanced, but the presentation was as awesome aurally as it was visually.
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John Atkinson Posted: Jan 13, 2007 6 comments
I looked into the Cary Audio Design room in the Venetian Towers to catch up with designer Dennis Had to find out what the North Carolina company had been up to since I visited them a year ago. But he was out, so I settled back to enjoy some fine music on Dynaudio Confidence C4 speakers—favorites of mine since I reviewed them in September 2003—driven by the 10th-Anniversary Edition of Cary's CAD805 single-ended triode monoblock, perhaps the finest-sounding of its breed. Source was the CAD-306 SACD player, back in production after some manufacturing problems with its Sony-sourced chipset. Nice. Very nice.
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John Atkinson Posted: Jan 13, 2007 1 comments
Whenever I have caught up with Ken Kessler (left) at audio shows in the past two years, he has uncharacteristically grumbled about all the work he was doing writing and compiling McIntosh...For the Love of Music. "Every time I interview someone connected with the iconic Binghampton audio company, they tell me about two more people I didn't know existed whom I should interview."
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John Atkinson Posted: Jan 13, 2007 2 comments
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.

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