CES 2015

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Jason Victor Serinus  |  Jan 17, 2015  |  8 comments
Photo: John Atkinson

On one level, this was just "another CES." The barrage of humanity, traffic, flashing lights, cigarette smoke, hawkers, gawkers, noise masquerading as music, and the ever-present Las Vegas Strip above was such that, as I entered the Venetian on the last day, all I could think of was the promise that, before the night was over I would be back amongst the trees, silence, and rejuvenating peace of our home...The Age of the Audiophile is far from over. As CES 2015 has made abundantly clear, the show may be over, but the fun has just begun.

Robert Deutsch  |  Jan 17, 2015  |  2 comments
For this year's CES show blog, in addition to reporting on new/interesting products, our plan was to ask manufacturers for tips on the installation and optimization of their products, echoing the how-to theme of the articles in Stereophile's 2015 Special "Recommended Components" issue, the cover of which is pictured above with John Atkinson. (This special issue will be available on newsstands and in bookstores next week.)
Jason Victor Serinus  |  Jan 17, 2015  |  0 comments
With its forthcoming BHK Signature 250 amplifier ($7500), PS Audio's Paul McGowan (above) has stepped outside his own self-imposed price point box. By inviting his longtime friend and colleague, Bascom H. King (Constellation, Infinity, Infinity class-A, Conrad-Johnson, and Marantz), to create his magnum opus without regard to price, his goal was to make, in his own words, "one of the top five amplifiers in the world."
John Atkinson  |  Jan 17, 2015  |  3 comments
Richard Vandersteen points to the detailed improvements to his flagship Model Seven speaker, which produced one of my best sounds at the 2015 CES.
Jason Victor Serinus  |  Jan 17, 2015  |  1 comments
What better way to end a day than to move from Magico/Soulution/Baetis/BAD/Vovox to a system in which dCS's digital statement, the ne plus ultra Vivaldi four-stack marvel (something like $108,496 plus all those cables to power and connect it), Dan D'Agostino Momentum monoblock amplifiers ($55,000/pair), Transparent MM2 cabling, and the new Rockport Cygnus loudspeakers ($62,500/pair). The sound was very different than Magico's on the next floor of the Mirage, and equally extraordinary.
Jason Victor Serinus  |  Jan 17, 2015  |  0 comments
In the first system to which I took a serious listen at CES, Alon Wolf could have made no more major a statement than by pairing his Magico Q7 loudspeakers ($185,000/pair) and new active QSub-18 ($36,000) with Soulution 701 monoblock amplifiers ($150,000/pair), Soulution 720 preamp (discontinued—the current 725 line stage is $50,000), Berkeley Audio Design Reference DAC ($16,000), Baetis Audio music server, Vovox cabling from Switzerland, Magico MRack ($50,000), and superb Magico QPOD equipment supports.
Jason Victor Serinus  |  Jan 17, 2015  |  0 comments
"What kills me is that in my own showroom I have the same Wilson Alexia loudspeakers that Nagra is using, but they sound better in their set-up, and they aren't even using room treatment," lamented a retailer whose identity shall forever remain unspoken. What better compliment can one pay to Nagra's forthcoming HD amplifiers?
Jason Victor Serinus  |  Jan 17, 2015  |  6 comments
Is it an "implosive sound center" that offers, in Devialet's words, "The Best Sound in the World—1000 Times Superior to Current Systems," or is it an overblown puffer fish? Such thoughts crossed my mind as a young, computer-happy Devialeter, standing behind a curtain, fed techno music to the Phantom ($1990) and Silver Phantom ($2390), whose side panels in turn pumped in and out as it flooded a large suite in the Mirage with the driving beat of increasingly loud music that, if pumped through the water, might lead a poor puffer to puff its last.
John Atkinson  |  Jan 17, 2015  |  1 comments
Gilad Tiefenbrun, Managing Director of Linn Products (above), along with the Scottish company's Technical Director Keith Robertson, gave me a convincing demonstration of Linn's Exakt system. According to Linn, "Exakt pushes the lossless digital signal path all the way to the speaker," turning the loudspeaker into "an intelligent, connected, software-upgradeable product. This enables a wide range of performance- and personalisation-enhancing capabilities in design, in manufacture and in your home."
Herb Reichert  |  Jan 17, 2015  |  11 comments
Working like a stereopticon, Edgar Choueiri's Bacch-SP provides up to a 32dB reduction of interaural crosstalk, not with headphones, but with everyday stereo loudspeakers. And without the coloration that previous solutions, like a physical barrier between the ears, are plagued by.
John Atkinson  |  Jan 17, 2015  |  0 comments
Jon Iverson already reported on MBL’s new Noble Line N31 DAC/CD player, and for me, one of the best sounds at the 2015 CES was listening to MBL’s system, based on this digital source feeding signal to the preamp section of the MBL N51 stereo integrated amplifier, with the amplifier section of the integrated and a N21 stereo amplifier (which have the same gain) to bi-amp the unique MBL 101E Mk.II omnidirectional speakers.
Larry Greenhill  |  Jan 17, 2015  |  6 comments
TAD's chief engineer, Andrew Jones, always cheerful and happy, took great pleasure in introducing his newest design, the TAD CE1 Compact Evolution One, a contemporary styled bookshelf loudspeaker. This product produced my once-a-show epiphany for good sound.
John Atkinson  |  Jan 17, 2015  |  0 comments
Brooklyn, NY-based Wes Bender Studio was demming the new leather-covered Hansen The Dragon Legend E speakers $60,000/pair), driven by EAR 509 monoblocks ($15,700/pair), an EAR 912 preamp ($13,000 with phono stage), and an EAR Disc Master turntable ($28,500) fitted with a Helius Silver Ruby tonearm ($5225) and Transfiguration Proteus ($6000) or SteinMusic Aventurin 6 Mk.2 ($6500) cartridges. Cabling was all Waveform Fidelity; racks were the impressively made Stillpoints.
John Atkinson  |  Jan 17, 2015  |  0 comments
Going into the Audio Arts room at CES was like going through a time portal into the 1986 CES, as Flim and the BB's classic album Tricycle was playing. The system was based on the top-line Zellaton speakers ($79,750/pair) driven by Swiss CH amplification connected with Schnerzinger cables. According to the meters on the Precision M1 monoblocks ($94,750/pair), while the average level was 4–5W, the peaks on the drums reached 360W and more! Yet the sound remained clean and uncompressed. An impressive if expensive sound.
John Atkinson  |  Jan 17, 2015  |  0 comments
Danish speaker manufacturer Gamut showed its new RS7 speaker at CES. Costing $39,900/pair, the RS7 is basically the smaller RS5 ($31,990/pair) that I favorably reported on in our 2014 RMAF report with an extra woofer mounted above the tweeter to give a full three-way design.