Nagra's new 60Wpc MSA stereo power amp ($8000) is loosely based on its older "pyramid" PSA amp. This MOSFET stereo amplifier (geddit?) sounds far better than the older one, IMHO. Verity's John Quick played some tracks from Manu Katches stunning Neighborhood and the new guy had better pacing and, more importantly, far better timbre. I heard deeper into the soundstage, especially hearing more of Katche's superlative stick work.
Ypsilon was showing a monster of an amplifierthe 120W SE-100 Mk. II($70,000/each). A single-ended hybrid, it uses a 5842 input tube and a row of MOSFET output devices. It's entirely wired point-to-point and sports custom power transformers. Of course, it's stuffed with boutique components.
Luxman is another old-school, technology-driven Japanese company. Looking at the 250Wpc B-100F (80th Anniversary Commemoration) ($55,000/pair) is a reminder of the days when the great Asian manufacturers fought for the title "best." The B100F is huge and can deliver 2000W into 1 ohm.
Triode Corporation Ltd of Japan had a room full of equipment featuringyou guessed ittriodes! The TRV-4SE($2800)) preamplifier has an S/N ratio of 96dB and has an internal MM phono section, Its frequency response is 10Hz-100kHz. The TRV-4SE uses Mundorf and Nichicon capacitors, kiwame precise resistors, and an exclusive Triode Corpration stepped attenuator.
Also on display at Esoteric was the nifty E-03 phono section ($5500). It has two phono inputsMC and one that can play either MC or MM cartridges. It also sports a demagnetizing function, which takes a scant 30 second. It has externally selected impedance and capacitance for each input. The E-03 also has a high-voltage custom power supply. It should be available in March.
Mutoaki Ohmachi, Esoteric's founder and resident genius, is a man full of passion. At CES2009, he spoke about the importance of music in his life and how hewing true to he sound of music had always been the motivation for Esoteric products.
Peachtree Audio has declared that "Computer Audio is here to stayso let's make it sound right." The 80Wpc Nova ($1199) includes an ESS 9006 Sabre DAc, which has a jitter reduction circuit and a 24-bit/96kHz upsampler. It employs a 6922 tube tas the driver for its class-A/B output stage. It decodes MP3, MP4, FLAC, AIFF, ALC, "plus all others. It even has a slot in the back to accommodate a Sonos ZP80/90. And did I mention that it has an HT pass-through? Or 11 regulated power supplies? That last is to isolate separate sections from digitally generated noise.
Luke Manley was muttering about the problems he was having naming the latest iteration of the VTL TL-5.5 line preamplifier ($6000). "I've already done a signature version and I don't want to confuse peopleit really does represent major improvements in sound."