CES 2012

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John Atkinson  |  Jan 18, 2012  |  2 comments
As they had at the 2011 Show, Magnepan's Mark Winey (left) and Wendell Diller (right) were demonstrating their system behind a curtain, so that listeners' preconceptions would not affect their opinions of the sound. It turned out that the speakers being demmed, driven by Bryston amplification, were a pair of the Minnesotan company's MMG planars ($599/pair), to which had been added a $5000 Tricenter center channel speaker. This seemed a bit odd to me, but Wendell explained that they were showing an unlikely combination that might be just what a specific customer needed.
Robert Deutsch  |  Jan 18, 2012  |  0 comments
Revel's well-received Performa series of loudspeakers has been completely overhauled, with a number of advances in materials and manufacturing technologies. The new Performa3 series now consists of 10 models, including three floorstanders, two stand-mounted monitors, and various home theater speakers. The drivers are all new, and, according to Revel's Kevin Voecks, they have exceptionally low distortion, which contributes to clarity and transparency. This was very much in evidence with the pair of M106s ($1700/pair) and F308s (at $6000/pair, the most expensive speaker in this series) that I listened to.
Robert Deutsch  |  Jan 18, 2012  |  2 comments
In my posting on Opera Loudspeakers, I wrote about company names, and how they might suggest something about the product and the priorities of a speaker's designer. In the case of Volent Corporation, I must admit to being puzzled. What does this mean? The Dictionary of Difficult Words defines "volent" as "exercising will power." How does a speaker do that? Finally, going through the company's website, I found the following explanation: "the name Volent [is] derived from the phrase, 'Voice of Excellence': signifying not only the quality of reproduced sound but also the vocal appreciation of music lovers."
Robert Deutsch  |  Jan 18, 2012  |  0 comments
Totem is expanding their Element line, which features bass drivers running full-range up to the tweeter’s passband. The latest speaker in this line is the Ember ($4200/pair) a two-way using a 6" Torrent driver designed and made by Totem. Driven by Boulder electronics, a pair of Embers produced a full-range sound, with the sort of bass that made you wonder if there was a subwoofer in the system. Not bad for a 6" driver!
Robert Deutsch  |  Jan 18, 2012  |  0 comments
Stephen Mejias has written about Anssi Hyvönen of Amphion, who believes that music reproduction doesn't have to be loud to be effective, and that, in fact, the hallmark of a really good speaker is its ability to be involving at low levels. Amphion's demos always provide for a soothing experience at shows, and so it was at CES 2012, this time using the new Argon7Ls ($5999/pair) with Nuforce electronics.
John Atkinson  |  Jan 18, 2012  |  4 comments
I always look forward to visiting Vladimir Lamm's room at a Show; my Brooklyn neighbor both has excellent taste in music and knows how to set up a system so that it works with the room. At CES, Vladimir was driving Wilson MAXX3 speakers ($68,000/pair) with his four-chassis ML3 Signature single-ended 32W tubed amplifiers ($139,200/pair), LL1 Signature dual-mono tube preamplifier ($42,690/pair), and LP2 phono preamplifier ($7590). Cabling was all Kubala-Sosna Elation series—$92,500 worth—which with the Onedof turntable with Graham Phantom II tonearm and Benz Micro cartridge, the Neodio digital front end, and Harmonic Resolution Systems racks, gave a total system costs of $599,000! (This is what you would pay for a 3-bedroom family home in our part of Brooklyn.)
Robert Deutsch  |  Jan 18, 2012  |  0 comments
This Kim Kristiansen slide illustrates the effectiveness of Dali's SMC/linear drive magnetic system in reducing distortion. I believe the lowest curve shows the distortion levels of this the woofer—built completely in-house—that uses the linear drive magnetic system with SMC.
John Atkinson  |  Jan 18, 2012  |  0 comments
The opening night of T.H.E. Show, cable manufacturer ZenSati ApS sponsored a recital by the Russian pianist Hagia Pastor, following a short speech on the state of the audio industry by yours truly. I am not ashamed to admit that Dr. Pastor put on a better show :-)
Robert Deutsch  |  Jan 18, 2012  |  1 comments
Wharfedale is one of those venerated British names in audio. And while its image is perhaps on the old-fashioned side, there's absolutely nothing old-fashioned about the latest Jade series of loudspeakers—unless you're thinking of old-fashioned craftsmanship. The price of speakers in the Jade series ranges from $1200/pair (stand-mounted Jade-1) to $4200/pair (floorstanding Jade-7), and the manufacturing is vertically integrated: they make every component of each speaker!
Robert Deutsch  |  Jan 18, 2012  |  1 comments
Taiwan-based Lawrence Audio has three speaker models: the Mandolin ($5500/pair), Violin ($7500/pair), and Cello ($19,000/pair). They're described as being "inspired by musical masters," and, come to think of it, all three speakers bear a resemblance to largish string instruments, with a "belly" that houses the woofer, and the part of the cabinet housing the midrange and tweeter look somewhat like the neck of a cello or string bass. The midrange driver and tweeter are once again based on the Heil design. The system I heard, featuring the Cellos, sounded very promising.
Stephen Mejias  |  Jan 17, 2012  |  0 comments
I’m always encouraged when I see families at hi-fi shows, so I was happy to meet Alexander Vitus Mogensen, son of Vitus Audio founder, Hans-Ole Vitus; and I was even happier to learn that the 20-year-old Mogensen has started his own company, AVM-TEC, devoted to affordable OEM and DIY amplifier modules.
Jon Iverson  |  Jan 17, 2012  |  0 comments
Control of the T+A Music Player is now greatly improved with the new optional $900 remote. At the top of the remote is a color screen that will show you the metadata and album cover art from UPnP connected drives that you are controlling with the Music Player.
Jon Iverson  |  Jan 17, 2012  |  0 comments
New to me at this show is the QAT MS5 music server using an iPad (shown here) or a slightly smaller custom RP5 touch panel for control. There is a built-in Teac CD drive and 1TB of storage (around 2,500 CDs using FLAC) and the system supports a multitude of file formats and data rates up to 24/192.

The product and interface looked pretty slick and the company's sales and marketing director, Vital Gbezo, said that QAT is currently looking for US distribution. The MS5 is priced at around $6,000.

Jon Iverson  |  Jan 17, 2012  |  0 comments
Bladelius has released a new stripped-down version of the Embla shown last year at a very stripped-down price: $3,000. What they've taken out is the solid-state hard drives and disc player, leaving those items to the network. In addition to the front panel touchscreen, here is an UPnP server and custom iPad app as well.
Stephen Mejias  |  Jan 17, 2012  |  3 comments
John Atkinson and Kal Rubinson became familiar with DEQX, an Australian company specializing in digital loudspeaker correction and room compensation, during their review of NHT’s Xd active loudspeaker system; I had the opportunity to become acquainted with DEQX at last year’s Rocky Mountain Audio Fest.

Then, the company gave an impressive demo of their HDP-3 standalone processor mated to a pair of Gallo Reference loudspeakers and Parasound amplification, showing room interaction and examining how the sound of the system could be optimized in the frequency, phase, and, most important to DEQX, time domains.

This year, the company gave a similarly impressive demonstration of their new HDP-4 processor ($4995), which should be available in about two months.