If anyone was even in danger of presuming vinyl was passé at CES, all they had to do was come within earshot of the energetic DJ manning dual Stanton turntables at Intel's Las Vegas Convention Center booth. The DJ, Vince Pistricola, aka DJ Shortround, emerged from the Detroit music scene as a DJ and magazine publisher covering the latest in hip-hop with his Detroit Equipment Quarterly. As I took some time out to listen, DJ Shortround blasted through the din from thousands of rushing conventiongoers with a steady diet of techno. Although you'd think DJ Shortround's frantic scratching would wear out 10 phono cartridges an hour, he says that he has a "light" touch. And no he doesn’t have green skin—that was the effect of the lights!
Dieter Burmester, president of Berlin-based Burmester Electronics, beamed as we listened to Madeleine Peyroux's Billy-Holiday-like rendition of "Dance
Me to the End of Love" (CD, Careless Love, Rounder, 1161-3192-2) being played over his new full-range loudspeaker, the B-100. I felt that it was the most holographic, three-dimensional reproduction of this song (a personal favorite of both mine and Dieter B.'s) that I have yet heard. Although the price has not been announced, the B-100 is taller and 40kg heavier than its predecessor, the B-99 and should exceed, by a proportional amount, that speaker's $49k/pair price. The B-100 features a new double-ribbon tweeter/horn arrangement that I feel accounts at least in part for the new speaker's jaw-dropping transparency and effortless highs.
McIntosh demonstrated a vacuum-tube version of its C1000 preamplifier in its two-channel audio room at the Alexis Villas. Retailing for $9000 and weighing in at 54 lbs, the C-1000T has fully balanced, dual-mono, MC and MM phono stages, balanced and single-ended inputs and outputs, and a front-panel window to show off four of the eight 12AX7 tubes. Mirrors create a barbershop effect of endless reflections, suggesting the presence of many more tubes than are actually there. Even so, I found the effect pleasing.
Soundsmith introduced a strain-gauge cartridge system in the Joseph Audio room at the Alexis Villas. The output of the dedicated battery-powered preamplifier can be fed to a preamp's line input as it does not require any equalization.
Day Sequerra presented its newest FM/AM/HD Radio tuner, the Model M1 HD Broadcast Reference tuner in the Alexis Park. The basic chassis includes the option to receive High Definition (HD) FM digital radio and HD/AM radio in a modular package ($4995) with single-ended analog, balanced analog, and digital outputs. "We have begun to refer to this model as 'tuners," said David Day, seen in the photo with his new baby, "because it can be configured to accommodate 10 different audio and video receive modules, including: FM HD, a class-M output option that features current-feedback amplifiers), cable TV, an ultra high-end FM Reference Module front-end option, or HD TV." Two common options will be the M1 configured with a 2.75" oscilloscope
($6995), or the price-not-determined "Panalyzer" option, which provides a 5–500MHz spectrum display.
Street buzz is a force to reckon with. When an audiophile whispers to me that a piece of new equipment sounds unusually good, I'm interested. When two manufacturers of other equipment independently tell me "You've got to listen to this speaker," I get excited.
Home theater has dramatically influenced the design of aftermarket subwoofers. Multichannel processors automatically provide a properly filtered low-frequency signal to drive a subwoofer, relieving the need for the sub to be shipped with a passive crossover network or an active electronic crossover. When Genelec offered one of their subwoofers for review, I decided it was important to try to evaluate such a product, even if it meant I'd have to scramble around to find a quality external electronic crossover.
I first heard the Totem Acoustic Tabù loudspeakers at HI-FI '96, Stereophile's Home Theater & Specialty Audio Show at the Waldorf=Astoria in New York City last June. A startlingly realistic vocal recording drew me to Totem's sixth-floor demo room. Vincent Bruzzese, the speaker's designer, was playing Michael Jonasz singing "Si si si le ciel" from la fabuleuse histoire de Mister Swing (WEA 2292-42338-2, imported by May Audio Marketing). The small, two-way Tabù cast a holographic, palpable musical image with clear highs and sizzling dynamic pace. I was bitten, and set things in motion for this review. And two other things drew me to the Tabù: its capacitor-less crossover and its similarity to Totem's Model 1.
Canadian electronics manufacturer Bryston Limited has been producing consumer and professional amplifiers since 1974 [see Robert Deutsch's interview elsewhere in this issue—Ed.]. Bryston amps are engineered to be physically and electrically rugged, to meet the stringent demands of professionals, many of whom leave their studio amplifiers turned on for years. While chassis had to be light instead of the audiophile massiveness found in some high-end consumer amplifiers, studio engineers and concert pros continued to favor Bryston amps, which easily passed the "steel toe" test. The 4B, for example, became a standard amplifier for recording engineers and touring musicians.
The Bryston BP-25MC preamplifier is a full-function control center with one balanced and four single-ended inputs, including one input for a moving-coil cartridge. The BP-25 is shielded in a black steel cabinet said to reduce electromagnetic interference effects. The power transformer is housed in a small external chassis, the BP-PS. The BP-25's remote control allows volume up/down, along with buttons for mute and absolute polarity. Signal switching and audio connections, including balanced and unbalanced input and output connectors, are heavily gold-plated to provide good long-term connections. A 12V AC/DC screw terminal connector on the rear of the power supply provides convenient use when used in conjunction with the remote start feature optionally available on Bryston power amplifiers.