Nelson Pass's introductory claim was modest: "Pass simply added some input selection and level control to the front end to turn these amplifiers into new integrated models." What I saw were two impressive integrated amps that are clearly derived from the larger Point 8 amps.
Possibly, the most beautiful design I saw CES was the new Absolare Passion 845 push-pull amplifier ($40,000/pair) and they were handily driving a pair of Rockport Avior speakers. As with the earlier Passion 845 single-ended amp, the push-pull amp sports a pair of glowing 845 power tubes but by adding a pair of EL-34 drivers after the input 12AT7, Absolare is able to increase the output palpably from 45W to 85W of zero-feedback power while remaining substantially in class-A operating mode.
The new Jadis JA120 monoblock amplifierss ($27,900/pair) were driving a pair of Estelon XA speakers to lusty levels at the Bluebird Music room. The design uses the newish KT120 output tubes, six per amp, and, with an additional front-end tube and a higher-gain driver stage, each JA-120 is claimed to be capable of 100W of pure class-A output.
In addition to the Steinway Lyngdorf components which are designed to work as a system, Lyngdorf showed components which can integrate with other brands. Included were the SDA-2400 power amp (400Wpc, $2400) and the TDAI-2170 stereo digital integrated amplifier (170Wpc, $4000).
I visited the Kevro room to get another listen to the Monitor Audio Silver 8 speakers that I reviewed in January. However, I found that Kevro was bringing Cyrus electronics back to the US. The offerings were all in the tidy and familiar half-shoebox format that permits Cyrus devices to stack so neatly.
One of the trends in amplification this year is the large number of stereo integrated amplifiers with digital inputs. Among these, the Parasound Halo Integrated stands out for its impressive feature set.
At Musical Surroundings, the Metis line-stage preamp from Aesthetix, first seen at the 2014 RMAF, was running the big demo system. This new 4-tube preamp replaces the multi-chassis Callisto at about $25,000.
For years, I have greeted Rogue's Mark O'Brien with the question, "Anything new in digital?" fully knowing that Rogue Audio is committed to vacuum tube-based analog. This time I asked "Anything new that is not digital?" and Mark beamed. Finally, I had asked the right question...
I remember reading about Monitor Audio speakers as I pored over British audio mags in the 1970s, before the economy was globalized. They were among the many worthy UK brands whose cachet was amplified by their unavailability in the US. This venerable brand has survived and flourished, while many others from the 1970s have disappeared, or become mere labels under the aegis of multinational corporations. The reasons for this success seem to be that Monitor has evolved their metal-cone driver technology, kept the focus on their core market, and continued to provide high-quality construction and finishes. So I was not surprised to read, at the back of the Silver 8's multi-language owner's manual, that the speaker was "Designed and Engineered in the United Kingdom, made in China."