2003 CES, Day Two

The Consumer Electronics Show (CES) officially opened today and we spent our time at the Alexis Park noticing even more exhibitors than last year. On hand were plenty of new products, companies, and high-rez software demos. Multichannel demos were in heard in several rooms—all to good effect.

We started at the rear of the hotel where we discovered TAD (Technical Audio Devices), a company that, for the past 28 years, has focused only on the pro audio market. It has decided to brave the home audio market and, for the past three years, has been developing a statement loudspeaker that incorporates highly innovative design and construction That debut product, the Model-1, will retail for $40,000/pair. Andrew Jones, TAD's director of engineering, took us through several demo tracks and explained the technology behind the product. A quick listen reveals that the Model-1 is a very dynamic speaker with a wonderfully rich, yet detailed, tight bottom end. Easily the most stunning demo we've heard yet, closing with a multichannel DVD-Audio disc played on a five speaker set up. That's $100,000 of speakers playing in the room.

Jones explained that the Model-1 sports a specially-developed beryllium concentric midrange/tweeter driver and a clever laminated cabinet design. As shown in the photo, the cabinet is made by stacking and glueing more than 50 horizontal slices of machined birch ply. The finished stack is then clampled tight, sanded, and stained to order to produce what the company describes as an immensely strong, inert enclosure. Each finished speaker weighs nearly 300 pounds. TAD says it will also be producing a more modest center and surround design after the Model-1 rolls out this summer. If you've got the bucks, this is one to consider.

Joseph Audio, which garnered a Product of the Year award for its 7si model, revealed the RM33si Limited Edition, thus fulfilling one of Chip Stern's wishes for a RM33si coupled with the Pearl tweeter. Jeff Joseph indicated that 2000 sets of the RM33si LE will be created and will retail for $8999/pair. The speaker should be on the market in March.

Hovland introduced its new power amplifier (being worshipped above), the Radia, which is shipping now at $9500. The amp is rated at 125Wpc into 8 ohms and features fully dual-monophonic construction, complementary-symmetry driver/output-transistor configuration, and active bias-control circuitry. The amp also boasts the company's gorgeous aesthetics and signature blue glow.

Manley Labs was on hand to introduce its brand new monoblock amplifier, the Mahi. As company president EveAnna Manley explained, you need two to form a stereo pair, which then becomes the Mahi Mahi. Sounds pretty fishy to us. JI suggested she come up with a subwoofer amp and name it the Sea Bass. The Mahi, which is the monoblock version of the company's Stingray amp, has four EL84s and puts out 40W in ultralinear mode or 25W if configured as a triode amp. The Mahi should be available in mid-February for $2500/pair.