CES 2014

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Kalman Rubinson  |  Jan 14, 2014  |  0 comments
When I asked for something new and under $2000 at the Dali room, I was shown their new Kubik Free speaker ($1295/pair). This active compact single-stereo speaker with Bluetooth, USB, optical (up to 24/96) and analog was not exactly what I was looking for even though it did sound pleasant by itself. However, I was won over when it was demonstrated with its optional Kubik Xtra ($695) passive mate to produce some really spacious and open stereo sounds. Sure, adding the matching Sub 1 ($695) puts it over $2000 but the contribution to the sound was substantial. The Kubik system looks like and has the features of a life-style system but it is definitely a Dali.
Jason Victor Serinus  |  Jan 16, 2014  |  4 comments
Given Dan D'Agostino's products recent awards—Stereophile Joint Amplification Component of the 2013 for the original Momentum monoblock amplifier, and CES 2014 Innovations Design and Engineering awards for the Momentum preamp—it's no wonder everyone was buzzing around the new Momentum integrated amplifier ($45,000). Manufactured in—you're going to love this—Carefree, AZ, the Momentum integrated is a no-compromise design that includes the same preamp and stereo boards used in the Dan D'Agostino Master Audio Systems' separates
Jason Victor Serinus  |  Jan 18, 2014  |  7 comments
When I entered the Daniel Hertz room, close to a full house was sitting at attention as someone was giving a spiel about room correction. As I wrote in my notes, "I don't know what's going on, but the choir is overloading and the sound is too warm." Said person, whom I only later learned, after I left the room, was Mark Levinson, then announced that he wanted to show off the system's dynamic range. "Any sound known to man this system can reproduce," or something very close to that, he declared as he proceeded to play sounds created by Norah Jones.
Kalman Rubinson  |  Jan 14, 2014  |  1 comments
Over at T.H.E Show at the Flamingo, and surrounded by booths offering all sorts of discs and their supporting paraphernalia, I came upon Darin Fong's table of laptops and headphones but he was not selling any of those. His company, Darin Fong Audio, is offering a software program called "Out Of Your Head" which reprocesses stereo and multichannel sources so that you can hear them as you would over a loudspeaker-based system. This is similar, in intent, to the marvelous Smyth Realiser that I reviewed in November 2010, but, at just $149, is much more affordable. Like the Smyth, it supports multiple presets (acoustic environment files) although it is not personalized to the user's own HRTF. It was also quite effective. There is free trial version on the website.
Jason Victor Serinus  |  Jan 19, 2014  |  0 comments
DartZeel's prototype LHC-208 integrated line amplifier with double DSD DAC and full digital streaming capabilities ($TBD, due early summer) was hardly broken in, but its potential was beginning to emerge at T.H.E. Show. Thanks as well to Evolution Acoustics' MMMicroOne loudspeakers and the company's top-of-the-line cabling, I could hear into the heart of the Nash Ensemble's Red Book recording of Brahms Piano Quartet No.3 in c. No hi-res content was available, alas, given that a previous visit by an esteemed member of the press had inadvertently obliterated it. But the appetite was whet, especially by the potential of LHC-208's two clocks to eliminate jitter.
John Atkinson  |  Jan 18, 2014  |  0 comments
Having gotten used to John DeVore showing off his high-sensitivity Orangutan O/96 and O/93 speakers at recent shows, both of which have been very favorably received by Stereophile’s reviewers, driven by low-power Shindo and Line Magnetic amplification, I was somewhat surprised to see the new and more conventional Gibbon X towers driven by a high-powered VTL S-200 Signature amplifier in Triode mode via Auditorium cabling in his suite at the Venetian. The new Gibbon is projected to sell for $12,000/pair and features all-new drive-units: a ¾” tweeter asymmetrically mounted beneath a paper-cone midrange unit based on that first used in the DeVore Silverback, which features what John calls an adaptive surround, and two long-throw 7” woofers.
Kalman Rubinson  |  Jan 16, 2014  |  0 comments
I was getting bored with my own opening question asking exhibitors do you have anything that's new for under $2000. For two days, I was getting either a gleeful "Yes!" or a slow "No but . . ." Mike Manousselis, Director of Marketing for Dynaudio USA, surprised me with a new answer: "Well, we have something that is not new but it's price is new and it is now under $2000."
John Atkinson  |  Jan 16, 2014  |  2 comments
Shown in Tom Norton’s photo are the Platinum versions of Dynaudio’s Confidence C2 floorstander ($15,000, left) and C1 stand-mount (middle)loudspeakers in the new Platinum trim, which I had seen and heard at 2013 shows. But I was more interested in the news that the Excite 12 loudspeaker, which has been a reference for Bob Reina since he reviewed it in March 2010, has been replaced by the Excite X14 ($1500/pair). My photo wasn’t usable, unfortunately, but I auditioned the X14s in a system comprising the Octave V40 SE 45Wpc, tube integrated amplifier ($5300), T+A DAC S8 ($3250), with Amarra running on a MacBook, Dynaudio Stand 3X stands ($350/pair), and in-akustik Reference interconnects and speaker cables, and was impressed by what I heard.
John Atkinson  |  Jan 17, 2014  |  0 comments
Back in January 2007, Bob Deutsch reviewed the single-driver Eclipse TD712z loudspeaker from Japanese manufacturer Fuijitsu Ten. He was impressed by what he heard from this idiosyncratic full-range speaker, but the brand never established a strong foothold in the US market. CES saw the reintroduction of Eclipse to North America, now distributed by On A Higher Note. A new version of the TD712z, the Mk.2, made its debut at the Venetian, along with the TD520W subwoofer. "Female voice—simply perfect!" I scrawled in my notepad, there always being special to the presentation when you dispense with a crossover.
Jason Victor Serinus  |  Jan 14, 2014  |  0 comments
So accustomed am I of associating Ed Meitner's EMM Labs with digital reproduction that I almost missed his first amps for the company. The MTRX class-A/B monoblocks ($130,000/pair), which output 1500W into 4 ohms and 3000W into 2, were designed as an homage to Meitner's previous Museatex MTR-101 monoblocks. Ten years in the making and first shown at last October's RMAF, they are claimed to "drive anything with ultra-low distortion."
John Atkinson  |  Jan 18, 2014  |  0 comments
The Enigmacoustics company from Irvine in California has become renowned for the self-energized, horn-loaded Sopranino electrostatic supertweeter they introduced a couple of years back. They were still promoting the tweeter at CES, demonstrating a pair with Magico speakers in one of their rooms. But I was more interested in their second room, where they were introducing a complete loudspeaker, the Mythology M1 standmount. Intended to sell for >$12,000/pair, the M1 adds the Sopranino supertweeter to a two-way design featuring a 35mm dome tweeter that crosses over at a low 1kHz to a proprietary 6” woofer in a rear-ported enclosure made from a laminated birchwood and glass, with an aluminum front baffle.
Jon Iverson  |  Jan 09, 2014  |  1 comments
Yes, DACs can be bought as monoblocks just like amps. The D1 retails for $22k each (so that's $44k for a stereo pair) and includes Esoteric's proprietary ES-LINK4 connection allowing DSD transfer from the companion P1 transport as well as 48/352.8 PCM, both via an HDMI cable.

Both the P1 and its D1a can be connected by a BNC cable for clock sync, and the company says that the D1 employs a 36bit digital to analog processing algorithm for PCM. In addition to accepting the P1 signal via HDMI, the D1 has six more inputs including USB, AES/EBU, SPDIF (x2), optical and i.LINK.

Jon Iverson  |  Jan 09, 2014  |  0 comments
Teac's Esoteric division also released their new P1 transport that can handle SACD/CD playback, built around the company's VRDS NEO mechanism.

The P1 also features a two-chassis design with separate power supply (not shown), "leather-finish" remote control and a $44k price tag. Both the P1 and D1 are housed in a gorgeous aluminum chassis with a fine-ribbed finish.

Jason Victor Serinus  |  Jan 13, 2014  |  0 comments
Moon by Simaudio of Quebec showed its two newest slim-box Evolution Series components. The first, the Moon Evolution Series 760A dual-mono, class-A/B balanced power amplifier ($8000), is "conservatively rated" at 130Wpc into 8 ohms, and boasts a zero global feedback circuit, proprietary output transistors, and class-A output to 5 watts. The company's Costa Koulisakis claims of its unrelated Evolution Series 820S power supply ($8000)—intended for use with the Evolution Series' 740P preamplifier, 610LP and 810LP phono preamplifiers, and 650D and 750D CD/DAC transports—"We've never done a better power supply in our lives." Together with other Evolution series components, the system produced notably spacious sound.
Kalman Rubinson  |  Jan 12, 2014  |  First Published: Dec 31, 1969  |  3 comments
Another big name makes the move into wireless speakers with Focal's announcement of the Easya. It is a floor-standing 2½-way system which comes as a pair, with its hub/controller and remote control, for just $1799. Available colors are a snazzy gloss white or black and it sports an inverted-dome tweeter and a pair of 5" polyglass-cone drivers. Inputs are TosLink, coax and USB inputs as well as analog. Better yet, it sounded like a Focal . . . but, look Ma, no wires!