CES 2014

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Jason Victor Serinus  |  Jan 16, 2014  |  0 comments
Is it any surprise Audio Consulting and Scaena, otherwise known as Switzerland meets South Florida, sounded excellent? From Audio Consulting, who were making their first show appearance since 2008, and is now sold direct from Nashville, we experienced numerous products. The first, the Audio Consulting MIPA (Mains Independent Power Amplifier) Silver Rock Toroidal amplifier, is available in stereo 30W ($45,000), mono 120W, and 30W/120W switchable ($52,000) configurations. A battery-driven, solid-state class-A switching amplifier, it has customizable inputs and outputs and is housed in a wood chassis.
Jon Iverson  |  Jan 15, 2014  |  0 comments
Replacing the venerable CD5, Audio Research has released the new CD6 which includes asynchronous USB, and the other usual digital inputs. Inside are quad DACs running a balanced configuration that doubles/upsamples whatever comes in over USB and quadruples 44k and 48k digital sources.

Pricing is $9,000 and users will also be able to choose between two filters. AR stated that they see the CD6 as a bridge between discs collections and computer audio.

Jason Victor Serinus  |  Jan 15, 2014  |  0 comments
Audio Research's new SP20 tube stereo preamplifier ($9000) combines a full-function linestage and phono stage, and includes a hi-resolution tube-driven headphone output, touchscreen control, remote control, and both balanced and single-ended inputs and outputs. The front panel echoes the Minnesotan company's fabled SP3 preamps from the 1970s. Listening to the company's first preamp in 20 years to include both a linestage and phonostage via Sonus faber Olympica III loudspeakers, I heard both the classic Audio Research midrange and a fast response that served bebop extremely well. Bob Reina is working on an SP20 review for Stereophile.
Jason Victor Serinus  |  Jan 17, 2014  |  0 comments
Gideon Schwartz of AudioArts NYC assembled an extremely fast system that delivered maximum color without any of the harsh, irritating edge that I encountered on many systems, both tube and solid-state, at CES. On Salvatore Accardo's well-worn Diabolicus in Musica LP of Paganini's solo violin music, as well as on a CD by the Musicians of the Nile, I was deeply impressed by the upward extension of the tone and the system's willingness to bathe music with the light it deserves. If the system wanted for the last iota of bass impact and clear delineation of low-lying lines, it nonetheless handled bass with a finesse that few hotel room set-ups offered, especially in the case of large loudspeakers sandwiched into small spaces.
Kalman Rubinson  |  Jan 16, 2014  |  2 comments
I know this is a lousy picture but it doesn't matter because the important product in it, the new AURALiC Aries Music Streamer (second from the top) is a prototype and it is housed in an enclosure borrowed from the AURALiC Vega DAC (top of the stack) recently praised by JA in the February issue. The Aries ($999) is the link between the NAS where you store your music files and your USB DAC. It is the first implementation of AURALiC's Lightning streaming protocol, based on 802.11ac Gigabit WiFi and capable of gapless play of all current formats, in stereo, up to 32/384, DXD, and DSD128 as well as all common lossy and lossless formats. The Aires has built-in Internet radio and is compatible with all major platforms and many other streaming protocols, including UPnP and DLNA.
Jon Iverson  |  Jan 09, 2014  |  0 comments
Korean manufacturer Aurender was on hand to debut the new X100L and X100S digital music players. The L and S designations are for long and short and describe the length of each case, which contain different sizes of hard drives. The L version can hold two 3TB SATA drives for a total capacity of 6TB, while the S version has space for a 1TB 2.5 inch drive or SSD.

The L will retail for $3,499 with the S coming in at $2,999, both being released in February. The Aurender X100 supports bit-perfect playback of DSD, WAV, FLAC, ALAC, APE, AIFF, M4A, and "other major formats". Control is via the Aurender Conductor App for iPad/iPad Mini (same as used with the Aurender S10 and W20).

Designed to be combined with USB compatible DACs, the X100 is equipped with a USB 2.0 audio output that was originally designed for the flagship Aurender W20 model. Other connections include a Gigabit ethernet port for network connectivity and two USB data ports.

Jason Victor Serinus  |  Jan 16, 2014  |  0 comments
Alexander Vitus Mogensen was deservedly bright-eyed about his equally handsome AVM-TEC Alluxity Pre One ($9150). Designed with the lifestyle conscious in mind, the Pre One first reached Asia last summer, and is now appearing in the US courtesy of distributor Light Harmonic. Its relay-operated volume control adjusts in 3dB intervals, and then decreases to a still large (in my estimation) 1.5dB as volume increases. It also offers balanced, zero global feedback topology, easily upgradable internal modules, five inputs (RCA and XLR), and two outputs.
Jon Iverson  |  Jan 15, 2014  |  3 comments
This year has seen Ayre add DSD capability to both the QB-9 DAC ($3250) and QA-9 ADC ($3950). Older QB-9s can be upgraded for $500 (makes everything sound better they say), and the QA-9 gets a free firmware update.
Jason Victor Serinus  |  Jan 15, 2014  |  1 comments
Shipping by the end of January, Ayre's new KX-R Twenty preamplifier ($27,500) is a complete redesign of the KX-R that was introduced in 2008. Among the new baby's features: a completely new "Ayrelock power supply" with twice the capacitance as of old, an optimized Equilock gain stage and Diamond output stage, significant part upgrades in all critical areas of the audio circuit, and, of course, "proprietary tweaks." Also playing in the system, which featured Vivid Giya G1 speakers, were the forthcoming MX-R 20 20th Anniversary monoblock amplifiers. There is as yet no retail price, as the parts are being finalized over the next two weeks.
Jon Iverson  |  Jan 17, 2014  |  0 comments
First seen last year at CES, the PureDAC has now been released and the company claims to have sold more than 1,000 units since August of 2013. Price is $1,690 and it handles up to 32/384 PCM, both DSD 64&128 and has a separate volume control for room and headphone listening. Designed in Germany, built in China.
Jason Victor Serinus  |  Jan 15, 2014  |  2 comments
Tri-Art Audio of Canada displayed its complete mid-level Bam Bam system, whose cost was under $35,000. Built to a very strict price point, the electronics, all stuffed with sheep's wool—why didn't they name it the Bah Bah system?—included the new Bam Bam passive preamplifier ($1295), which is housed in a solid wood cabinet and allows for passive bi-amping and tri-amping without an electronic crossover; Bam Bam 75Wpc class-D balanced amplifier #75-S ($1995); and Bam Bam 24V battery power supply ($900).
Jason Victor Serinus  |  Jan 14, 2014  |  0 comments
"This is a pretty major change for us," says Balanced Audio Technology's Steve Bednarski of the change from capacitor-coupled outputs to custom output transformers in their three new VK-P12 phono stages—the VK-P12 ($7995), VK-P12SE ($9995), and new flagship VK-P12SE SuperPak ($12,495). Unfortunately, none had arrived at the time I visited the room. Instead I encountered a display of the new VK-3000SE ($7995) 150Wpc into 8 ohms hybrid integrated amplifier, whose preamp stage is outfitted with the same 6H30 SuperTube used in the Rex II preamplifier. Also new are the VK-P6SE phono stage ($5995) and VK-P6 ($3495) phono stage.
Jon Iverson  |  Jan 15, 2014  |  First Published: Dec 31, 1969  |  0 comments
Bel Canto is moving decidedly upmarket with the new Black system. Jason will cover the amps, so I'll stick to the pre/DAC here. The ASC1 will interface specifically with the MPS1 monobloc amps via custom LightLink ST fiber interfaces and cables. There are nine inputs, and capabilities include analog sources, AES, SPDIF, Toslink and UPnP/DLNA streaming up to 24/384 PCM as well as DSD64 and 128.

The ASC1 retails for $20,000. When you add the amps, the entire system is $50k.

Jason Victor Serinus  |  Jan 17, 2014  |  0 comments
There's a big change in the Bel Canto line, folks. It even comes with a new logo and website, belcantoblack.com. As for the sound, listening to an Elvis Presley outtake of "Peace in the Valley" on a 45rpm pressing from, I believe, Direct Grace, I loved the wonderfully clear and uncolored sound, as well as the natural "you are there" detail. To be honest, I drank it up.
Jason Victor Serinus  |  Jan 14, 2014  |  0 comments
Lovely full-range sound, superb clarity on the bottom end, realistic bite on the trumpets, and blessed neutrality (as in natural timbres) distinguished the presentation of a bit of a 24/96 file of Ricardo Chailly?s performance of Mahler's Symphony 3 in Boulder?s room. Shoeboxed into far too small a space, Boulder's new 2150 mono amps ($98,000/pair), which weigh 240 lbs each, output a mere 1000W into 8 ohms, and replace the 2050 model that was in production for 17 years; the new 2110 preamp ($54,000), which includes a fully differentially balanced volume attenuator and new gain stages, and replaces the 2080 model that remained in service for 16 years; and the 1021 network disc player ($25,000) joined forces with Chario Serendipity loudspeakers (approx. $40,000/pair) and Analysis Plus Big Silver Oval cabling to wow me silly.