CES 2016

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Robert Deutsch  |  Jan 08, 2016  |  6 comments
Getting near the top of the $4k–$18k range, at $16,500/pair is the Magico S1 (Mk.II)—which is actually the lowest-priced speaker from Magico. Although it looks similar to the original S1, the Mk II has a newly designed 1" diamond-coated Beryllium diaphragm tweeter and a new 7" mid/bass driver incorporating Magico's Nano-Tec cone material. As was the case for the Mk.I, the enclosure of the Mk.I is formed from a single piece of extruded aluminum, but with a new massive top plate machined to a 3D convex shape, and a thicker base plate.
Robert Deutsch  |  Jan 08, 2016  |  1 comments
At $15,995/pair, the Tempus III is the top-of-the-line from Ryan Speakers. Their speakers have impressed me before as offering high quality for the price, but perhaps not world-beaters. The Tempus III is different. It uses proprietary drivers, including a new beryllium-dome tweeter, two side-firing woofers, and a midbass that covers the range from 100Hz to 350Hz.
Robert Deutsch  |  Jan 08, 2016  |  4 comments
Moderately Priced Speakers. That's my assignment for this year's CES show report—as well as moderately priced turntables and other phono equipment—Moderate being defined this time as priced from $4000/pair to $18,000/pair. Right at the top of this range is the $18,000/pair Raidho XT-2, an extremely slim floorstander that uses the same tweeter as the rest of the Raidho range and two 4" cone drivers.
Jason Victor Serinus  |  Jan 08, 2016  |  0 comments
Constellation Audio’s impressive system—Cygnus Media Server/DAC ($38,000), Altair 2 preamplifier ($78,000), and Hercules 2 monoblock amplifiers ($180,000/pair), as well as MIT cabling and Shunyata power treatment—fed the MartinLogan Neolith beauties ($80,000/pair) with enough power to make deep percussion sound real in the next room.
Jason Victor Serinus  |  Jan 08, 2016  |  0 comments
Constellation Audio's eye-catching set-up—the first time they've shown their reference system at an audio show—included a prototype turntable with two arms that is expected to replace the Continuum Caliburn table. (Is Michael Fremer watching? You betcha.)
Jason Victor Serinus  |  Jan 08, 2016  |  0 comments
The company's smiling Irv Gross was happy to show me the new, shipping within 60 days Constellation Inspiration integrated 1.0 ($13,500). "This one has it all, and it's also our most affordable product," he said. "It's an Inspiration preamp combined with one half of an Inspiration amp, and it includes a headphone jack and theater throughput for easy integration in HT set-ups. It also outputs a legitimate 100 watts."
Jason Victor Serinus  |  Jan 08, 2016  |  0 comments
Now this was an interesting one. Just one room over from the expensive Constellation set-up sat extreme bargain-for-the-money Audio Alchemy, designed by the same man who oversaw Constellation's engineering, Peter Madnick. But since my beat was the high-priced spread, I turned from Audio Alchemy's great-sounding gear to the TAD CE1 loudspeakers ($24,000/pair), designed by Toru Nagatani (above).
Jason Victor Serinus  |  Jan 08, 2016  |  1 comments
1500–1600 parts, 14 circuit boards including six input boards . . . that's just the start of what gives Pass Labs' top-of-the-line XS Phono stage ($45,000) the right to the "excess" moniker. It's a while back that Nelson Pass told veteran preamp designer Wayne Colburn (above). . .
Jon Iverson  |  Jan 08, 2016  |  0 comments
Germany's T+A introduced the DAC 8 analog to digital converter and preamp a couple years back as a compact and sportier version of its pricier siblings. New this year is the addition of a dedicated DSD processing section, new upgraded volume control and headphone amplifier.
Herb Reichert  |  Jan 08, 2016  |  1 comments
His name was Thom Pahmer and he broke all my rules: It was 10am the first day of the show and I walked in to his empty room, I introduced myself, "Good morning. My name is Herb Reichert and I covering the lower cost part of the High End for Stereophile—and I am especially interested in stand-mounted speakers." Mr. Pahmer looked at me crossly and said, "These are NOT stand mounted speakers!" I pointed at what I thought was a stand and he says, "The speakers are bolted to them—it is all one unit." I asked about the retail price and he told me, $5500/pair.
Jason Victor Serinus  |  Jan 07, 2016  |  5 comments
With my assignment high-priced amps, preamps, loudspeakers, and turntables, I started off by heading to the big rooms in the Venetian Tower. First up was the Esoteric–Cabasse room, where Esoteric was showing the latest incarnations of its “2” series, the Tokyo-made C-02X stereo line-stage preamplifier and S-02 stereo amplifier ($20,000 each). In a classic case of “trickle-down engineering” (which actually works, while trickle down economics rarely does), the preamp uses the same dual-layer supercaps as in the Grandioso ($40,000). It’s a fully balanced design, with a separate volume control for each phase of each channel. The sound is claimed to be faster, lighter, and more highly resolved, with a “big open soundstage.”
Herb Reichert  |  Jan 07, 2016  |  9 comments
The reemergence of Technics on the world audio scene is, I believe, the biggest audio news of 2015–2016. I reviewed their SB-C700 stand mounted monitor speakers in the January 2016 issue and they already feel like my 2016 nomination for Stereophile's Product of the Year; but obviously it is still way early. Nevertheless, Technics is back with two lines of stylish excellent sounding equipment...
Jon Iverson  |  Jan 07, 2016  |  4 comments
Kicking off CES early, AudioQuest held a press conference Wednesday morning to present their three new portable DAC/Headphone amps to the public for the first time. Designer Gordon Rankin and AudioQuest's Steve Silberman were on hand to explain the new products and run a brief demo.
Robert Deutsch  |  Jan 07, 2016  |  0 comments
The day before the opening of CES is devoted to press conferences, mostly by the big boys: Sony, Samsung, LG, Panasonic, etc. These are generally of little interest to Stereophile readers, so our detailed show coverage doesn't start until the official CES opening.
Robert Deutsch  |  Jan 07, 2016  |  3 comments
When the presentation turned to audio, Sony's Michael Fasulo referred to consumers' desire for "an even better listening experience," and that this was illustrated by the progression from LP to compact cassette, and then to CD, and to MP3. I must admit that I was taken aback by this statement. These changes in recorded music media may well represent a search for increased convenience, but few audiophiles would argue that a change from LP to compact cassette or from CD to MP3 represents "even better listening experience."

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