A Final Binaural Video Report from CES: DeVore, dCS, D'Agostino

As I wrote in our first video report from the 2018 CES, held January 9-12 in Las Vegas, NV, for our video coverage we purchased Sennheiser's "Ambeo" binaural system, which mounts microphones on the outer surfaces of a pair of earbuds. In this report, John Atkinson listens to some of his recordings in the DeVore Fidelity and dCS/D'Agostino rooms and offers his thoughts on what he had just heard. He also talks to exhibitors about their thoughts on the show and offers some final comments before heading to a bar for a well-earned beer. But first, John Quick of dCS and Rob Darling of Roon Labs find themselves in a bar featuring a mechanical bull. Will they try to ride it? Watch the video to find out who can stay on longest!

Axiom05's picture

What was the clicking noise in left channel in dCS/D'Agostino room?

John Atkinson's picture
Axiom05 wrote:
What was the clicking noise in left channel in dCS/D'Agostino room?

That was me, operating the D'Agostino preamp's volume control to set the playback level.

John Atkinson
Editor, Stereophile

Herb Reichert's picture

JA and JVS did not ride the bull

Glotz's picture

Who did? And how did they do? Lol..

Ortofan's picture

... a complete system that could be bought for an amount equal to only the upcharge for the deluxe finish on the dCS Vivaldi One?

Regarding the question by JVS about the total system price, they should have replied with the old chestnut "if you have to ask, then you can't afford it."

spacehound's picture

But my installed ad blocker didn't remove it. Were the ad blocker not free I would ask for my money back :-)

Listen on earphones?

Please explain how listening to loudspeakers anything from a mile or less away to thousands of miles away on earphones in my home conveys anything whatsoever about the quality of the equipment advertised in the video.

tonykaz's picture

wood'ah sounded better to y'all if that $80,000 Vivaldi ( with the optional and pricy Nickel Chrome polish ) didn't have it's New & Improved MQA filtering confusing you.

The "dcs" room was loaded with Transparent super expensive cabling, even those Wilsons are wired with the stuff. I'll have to make a call to Karen Sumner to learn the details, which nobody in the room seemed willing to share.

Naturally, you wouldn't hear it properly because your modest headphones probably have "Modest" Factory Stock Cabling instead of the better stuff that we all know is farrrrrrrrr better.

Of course, being thousands of miles ( or is it kilometers ) distant, you probably are experiencing "distance" degradation. You should hear it with one of those 65" 4K OLED Screens playing a WW11 U-Boat Movie Re-creation whilst sitting in a 1,000 sq.ft Hotel room, Phewwwwwwww !!!!!!! MQA and all. Kerpow....

Tony in Michigan

hb72's picture

well, if you try you might notice there is quite something to it. This even comes accross via (better) BT headphones from a mobilephone: you can hear < < < S P A C E > > >.

It is understood that this isn't the exact same thing as being there (and only the cleverestest & most critical minds under the sun notice this 'fraud' straight away, methinks!) but still it is lots of fun.

I noticed my personal impressions (gained via BT headphones) surprisingly often coincide to some extent with JA's post-listening comments, and so I wonder whether this is entirly random or whether there might be a small chance that we actually hear something more similar than dissimilar?

dalethorn's picture

It sounded so good actually, that if they recorded complete performances that way, I could replace 30 percent of my collection with those re-recordings. And it wasn't just "space" or soundstage etc. - the fundamental quality of the music came across startlingly well.

John Atkinson's picture

John Atkinson
Editor, Stereophile

MikeG77's picture

John, thanks for the interesting observations. I have Devore Nines, and am intrigued about the Super Nines.

Doctor Fine's picture

Yeah John that was fun.
I was surprised that even with the better spatial info from a binaural recording job either these gazillion dollar systems don't provide a center image particularly well or the bud mikes were incapable of 3D holographic binauralitism.
On my own system I get a soundstage that is palpable and plants a fully fleshed out centered stage with the instruments tactile and "visable" even when I walk around my room and listen far to one side or the other.
But when hearing these binaural recordings played back through my Sennheiser 600s no such center information came through.
It was "just" stereo and kind of flat two dimensional stereo at that.
What's up with that?
Not that I want to carp over the noble attempt to entertain all of us.
I commend your creativity in that regard.
Still I would never pay for a system that didn't create a holographic soundfield as that is the glory of our hobby.
Real natural lifelike concert sound in your home living room.
It's what the game is all about.
Hark---the game's afoot as Sherlock would say.

dalethorn's picture

I hear a quite different soundstage and placement from the different rooms. I like all of them, but the last one was very wide. The main criticism I'd offer is that the Cantus were very forward and loud, while the Whitacre were distant and very soft, requiring rapid turning of the volume control.

Anton's picture

The erstwhile Mr. DeVore summed up the value of the specialty stereo portion of CES perfectly.

PAR's picture

" The erstwhile Mr. DeVore "

Who or what is he now?

Anton's picture

I was typing in earnest and Siri must have word-completed for me.

I'm lucky it didn't say "erstwhile monster devour!"

That is awesome.

I am sorry for my poor proofing!

As penance, I will not edit the original.

Still chuckling.

John, if you are out there in the inter-tubes, my apologies!

Thanks, PAR.

defgibbon's picture

I did have a voracious appetite, though as the decades pass I find the price paid for a massive meal has made it an increasingly poor value...

DetroitVinylRob's picture

An excellent capture of perspective to what CES invites and accomplishes.

And very fine traveling room-to-room with remarks by gentleman, John Atkinson. Enjoyed John Devore's take on the value that could be lost as well. I have heard so much negative response about CES in Vegas over the years. This truly displays another viewpoint.

Thanks, JA

Relayer's picture

I was pleased to find that I could get a sense of some of the differences between the systems. The Wilsons were the only ones that imaged well for me, they also had great clarity, 2nd best bass to the first ones.
Very interesting.

jporter's picture

Interesting rumble in the right channel at the 17:20 mark...Gave me a good laugh...Thanks

silvertone's picture


How did this room compare to the Constellation Audio setup you reported elsewhere in a different post?

John Atkinson's picture
silvertone wrote:
How did this room compare to the Constellation Audio setup you reported elsewhere in a different post?

Not sure if you meant the DeVore room or the dCS room. The DeVore room was excellent, though without as much of the sweet-sounding detail that so impressed me in the Constellation/Magico system. The dCS/D'Agostino room edged ahead of the Constellation, due in part, I think to the superior room acoustics.

A comment on the binaural experience: how much of a 3D soundstage you experience will depend on how close the geometry of your ear pinnae are to mine. IIRC, there are 4 different classes of pinnae and there will be less frontal extension of the soundstage if your ears are very different from mine.

John Atkinson
Editor, Stereophile

Anton's picture

If I spring for the cost of proper surgical remediation, I wouldn't be able to afford my next speaker upgrade!


Anton's picture

I don’t know if it’s a new trend or not, but show reports of late had previously opined that reviewers don’t enjoy listening to the same music over and over again in different demo rooms.

Is listening to the same music in all the rooms the new paradigm?

There’s gotta beva Cantus limit y’all are gonna hit. “Bow bow bow” is my new intro to Hotel California trigger!

Jason Victor Serinus's picture

You are only referring to the videos we shoot in rooms. There are no rights issues when it comes to the inclusion of excerpts from these particular recordings by John in our videos. So much of what you find other places, e.g. YouTube, has been lifted without permission, and violates copyright laws.

dalethorn's picture

I just got an Ambeo from the Apple Store. Not only great for the "you are there" sound, but as a playback IEM, it's quite smooth and hi-fi sounding.