Both examples of the Verity Sarastro IIs ($40,000/pair) that I heard at FSI sounded amazing. I say this with some surprise, since I was never entirely comfortable with the original Sarastro. Go figure, new and improved.
Emanuel Lafleur had a pair of his $8000/pair (estimated final price) stand-mounted two-way X1 monitors set up in the press room. Great for reaching the press, not so great for good sound, since the press room was dominated by a huge roundtable right where the sweet spot would have been. Nevertheless, the X2s sounded impressive enough that both John Marks and I were captivated.
FSI has a very high percentage of good-sounding rooms, compared to most audio shows. True, the smaller hotel-roomed sized rooms above the concourse levels, all had a hooty 150Hz coloration, but that just meant that, when an exhibitor successfully dealt with it—as did Ken Rasmussen of Neeper—those rooms really stood out.
Wadia was showing its almost ready-to-ship CD/SACD player, the $15,000 781. (A 781i with digital inputs and outputs is also in the works.) The 781 uses two signal processors feeding a programmable gate array and the company's proprietary DigiMaster 2.5 upsampling software. This, Wadia claims, results in a data rate of 1.4112 million samples per second. The 781 also sports Clocklink jitter reduction for both CD and SACD.
The Galactus-sized Audio Research Reference 610T monoblock amplifiers ($20,000/ea) put out 600W. They require 8 matched pairs of 6550C output tubes, one 6550c regulator, one 6H30 as an amplifier regulator, a pair of 6550Cs as drivers, two 6NIP input tubes, and a 6H30 follower—that's a ton of tubes.