HI-FI '98 Product Previews, Part Three

Hundreds of manufacturers will be demonstrating state-of-the-art audio products at HI-FI '98---some of which have never before been seen by the public. We are running several announcements each week leading up to the Show to give you a taste of what to expect. Here's the third assortment:

B&W, having dazzled audiophiles with the innovative Nautilus, will be launching a loudspeaker that combines the philosophy of that design statement with the 801---probably the best-selling high-end speaker in audio history.

The new Nautilus 801 receives its world launch at HI-FI '98, this $11,000/pair loudspeaker representing the top of the Nautilus 800 Series of seven models. Exploiting the company's vast experience with studio installations---80% of the world's classical recordings are monitored on B&Ws---the Nautilus 801 has been "road-tested" at the world-famous Abbey Road Studios in London. And in keeping with B&W tradition, this radical new design incorporates Matrix cabinet technology, the use of Kevlar in the midrange and bass units, decoupling of the drivers from the enclosures, WBT-made connectors, and top-grade components throughout.

Merely describing it as a "floorstanding, three-way vented box" doesn't do justice to the way that the Nautilus 801 attacks the problem of loudspeaker aesthetics. But you'll see for yourself at HI-FI '98.

Complementing one of the most comprehensive ranges of audiophile and videophile cables is AudioQuest's latest digital connector, AudioTruth Falcon. This cutting-edge design is a "triple-balanced" AES/EBU cable conceived to set new standards in digital interconnects.

Falcon employs three solid-silver-plated long-grain copper conductors insulated with hard-cell foam, and a separate shield connected to XLR plugs for true balanced operation. Also introduced by the California company is VSB-1, a premium-grade 75 ohm coaxial cable designed to meet the demands of custom installers. This new wire is designed to create the optimum signal path from broadcast sources such as DSS and digital video.

Two new all-tube models, both single-ended triode designs, will grace Cary's display at HI-FI '98 and complete the company's desire to cover the entire range of possibilities for this type of amplification.

The CAD-1610 is a single-ended-triode 100W monoblock, its model number derived from its having twice the 50W output of the CAD-805. The 1610 features the new Western Electric 308B in class-A, zero-feedback operation. All-American, the 1610's metalwork, transformers, electrolytic capacitors, resistors, tubes, and even the large tube sockets are all US-made. All the tubes in the CAD-1610 are Western Electric, with a pair of WE-437A input tubes driving a WE-300B, which in turn drives the WE-308B. In the CAD-1610, the tubes should last 40,000 hours! Suggested US retail price for a pair is $30,000.

At the other end of the price scale is the CAD-2A3-SE single-ended-triode class-A monoblock power amplifier, featuring the sweetest-sounding tube ever manufactured: the 2A3 direct-heated triode. Based on the classic Cary Audio 300B single-ended format, the CAD-2A3-SE chassis measures 5.5" wide by 19" deep and is made of black epoxy-coated steel. Output is a pure class-A 5W, with frequency response flat to within 0.5dB over the entire audio spectrum. The DC rectification is by a trusty 5U4 direct-heated rectifier, and all transformers are rated at 200% continuous duty cycle. This is an amplifier that is designed to be left on 24 hours a day for years of great service. Suggested retail price is $2495.

Naim Audio
At HI-FI '98 Naim is introducing the CDX CD player to the public, a single-disc machine utilizing Philips CD7 parts and components. This standalone AC-powered player can also be used with a separate, very-low-noise power supply, the XPS, which provides a substantial improvement in sound quality. The same external supply will be used with the next generation of the CDX, easing the upgrade path from one player to another. Special features include a "display off" mode for improved sound quality, and the ability to choose which tracks are not played when listening to a disc.

At HI-FI '98 Sonicweld is unveiling to the public for the first time the Timpanogos Reference Quality Loudspeaker System. Precision-machined from aerospace-grade metals in a dipolar configuration, the Timpanogos incorporates many radical, groundbreaking technologies in crossovers, construction, and solderless connections.

For example, Sonicweld has developed a crossover that uses only premium-grade wire in the signal path and acts as almost a purely resistive load exhibiting virtually no electrical phase shift. The result is more effective amplifier operation and the elimination of reflections in the amplifier-to-speaker interface caused by reactivity. Uniquely designed and beautifully crafted, Timpanogos makes a powerful statement to even the most discerning audiophile.

Several new releases from the noted audiophile label will be available: Naum Starkman, solo piano, Tchaikovsky, The Seasons; George Faber, It Beats Workin'; Lori Lieberman, Un-Anchored Moon; and Mark Gorenstein and the Russian Symphony Orchestra performing Scriabin's Symphony 2. As a special treat, PopeMusic will also demonstrate 24-bit/96kHz sampling rate, 4-channel surround-sound tapes.

Aerial Acoustics
Aerial Acoustics will be announcing their powerful yet compact W3 subwoofer, designed for use in both high-end music and home-theater systems. The self-powered system provides solid, quick, accurate bass with a flat frequency response down to 20Hz due to a 12.5" driver sporting 2" of linear travel. The subwoofer comes with a high-current 300W amplifier and has six user-selectable crossover frequencies, balanced and RCA inputs/outputs, and a full-function remote control. The W3 has been designed to be used vertically or horizontally.

Women in Audio Panel
Moderator Lisa Astor has opened the call for questions to panel members to also include those submitted by e-mail. You can submit your questions for the panel ahead of time here.

This year's distinguished panel members include: Rondi D'Agostino, President, Krell; Karen Sumner, President, Transparent Audio; Lori Brown, President, Mobile Fidelity Sound Lab; and Bonnie McKenzie, Equipment Reviewer, Stereophile. Also present will be distinguished panel members from last year who have agreed to respond to questions: Sheryl Lee Wilson, President, Wilson Audio; EveAnna Manley (aka "The Manley Tube Queen"), President, Manley Laboratories; and Karen Richardson, Vice President of US Consumer Sales, Bryston.

Two members---Jan Mancuso, Sales and Marketing, Reference Recordings; and Janet Dudley, Assistant Editor, Listener Magazine---are not able to attend, but will provide responses to be read at the seminar.