CES 2012

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Jon Iverson  |  Jan 13, 2012  |  0 comments
Not strictly a digital product, the ECI-6 DS from Norwegian manufacturer Electrocompaniet is a 125 watt per channel integrated amp that also incorporates a DAC and streaming and runs $5995 for the "basic version". DAC inputs include SPDIF, Toslink and USB and the ECI-6 DS can stream internet radio, DNLA devices, iPods, etc.

Company COO Peder Beckman provided an interesting demo where he was able to move the music stream from the integrated amp to a handheld device (in this case an Android phone), which started playing the music though its tiny speaker instead of the main system.

Electrocompaniet was also showing the new EMP-2 Disc Player based on the Oppo 93. They have added their own 24/192 DAC, analog board and balanced outputs. All for $3995.

Jon Iverson  |  Jan 13, 2012  |  0 comments
A combination digital preamp, streamer and DAC, Cambridge Audio's Stream Magic 6 also has twin Wolfson WM8740 DACs that upsample to 24/384 and a 24/192 USB input. All for $1,149 and available sometime this month.
Jon Iverson  |  Jan 13, 2012  |  0 comments
France manufacturer Micromega's $4,995 "WHiFi" player is AirPlay compatible, meaning it can wirelessly stream from any Apple device.
Robert Deutsch  |  Jan 13, 2012  |  0 comments
I had planned to attend the press conferences by Panasonic, Samsung, and Sharp, all scheduled for Press Day, but it seems that every single person with a Press badge had exactly the same idea, and the resulting crowds were at least as big as at the CES Unveiled event. In fact, about an hour before the scheduled Samsung press conference, CES staff announced that the number of people in the line-up exceeded the capacity of the hall, and not everyone could be admitted. I gave up on both Samsung and Panasonic, but was Sharp was different. They had sent emails to a selected group of journalists, including yours truly, designating them as VIPs, and special tickets to be printed out, which would allow these individuals entry to the press conference before everyone else. Even if I had not been all that interested in whatever Sharp was going to announce, being called a VIP meant that I just had to attend. And, as I walked in, who do I see but my colleagues, Kal Rubinson (left) and Tom Norton (right)? We had our choice of seats, up front. It's good to be a VIP!
Larry Greenhill  |  Jan 13, 2012  |  2 comments
Ypsilon Electronics’ Demetrius Baklavas designed the new $36,000/pair Aelius monoblock amplifier. The Aelius is rated at 220W into 8 ohms, 308W into 4 ohms, and 500W into 2 ohms. It is a hybrid design that features tube inputs, hand-wound interstage coupling transformers, and MOSFET output devices wired in the same type of push-pull Circlotron output configuration that was found in some Output-Transformer-Less tube (OTL) designs. The Circlotron configuration was developed years ago by Electro-Voice, and while the Aelius's output devices are all N-channel MOSFETs, the Circlotron approach is very different from conventional quasi-complementary approaches.
Larry Greenhill  |  Jan 13, 2012  |  0 comments
JL Audio's home high-end audio subwoofer engineer, Brett Hanes, proudly shows off the company's new $1700 ES-112 subwoofer (wood finish) that uses clever engineering principles to coax better performance and value from a less-expensive product. The ES-112's woofer features the company's only dual-spider driver construction, a smaller voice-coil, though the cone is designed for the same 3" peak–peak excursions found in the company's flagship f212 and Gotham models. Other construction simplifications—you change line input voltage by changing fuses in external fuse holder—make the product more adaptable for international sales. It also has a high-pass output with variable frequency crossover, which will be appreciated by those of us using subwoofers in a two-channel home audio system.
Jon Iverson  |  Jan 13, 2012  |  0 comments
What we have here is the Vincent C-35 Hybrid HDCD CD Player. It features a 100% vacuum tube output stage (two 12AX7 tubes and one 6N10), dedicated headphone amp with volume control and SPDIF digital output. Priced at $1,999.99.
Jon Iverson  |  Jan 13, 2012  |  0 comments
And then there is a new update on the original DacMagic. The price is $599 and the USB input allows 24/192 and the Plus features the same Wolfson DACs at the Stream Magic 6. Available now.
Robert Deutsch  |  Jan 13, 2012  |  0 comments
Audio-Lineare hails from France, and although I haven't heard of the company before, they've been making speakers since 2001. The designer is Yves Poulichot, who has been devoted to this endeavour for 25 years. The Harmonie 16 ($6500/pair) on display uses an aluminum ribbon tweeter and two bass/midrange drivers in a "2.5-way" configuration. Nice sound with Viola electronics. The charming representatives are Alix Ribeault (Marketing Director, left) and Christelle Kabeya (International Sales Assistant, right).
Larry Greenhill  |  Jan 13, 2012  |  0 comments
Each Xs channel has two chassis, one for the power supply and the other for signal amplification. The amplifier acts as a voltage source, and is rated at 300W into 8 ohms, 600W into 4 ohms, and 1200W into 2 ohms. It is biased to ensure make certain that the amplifier remains in class-A mode into all loads. Each channel has 122 output devices with a total rating of 10kW, and the extensive heatsinking allows the Xs 300 to deliver 2kW into a load "all day long." Though the Xs 300 stack was a silent exhibit, the company was using the more modest $65,000/pair Xs 150s to drive the Pass Lab RM2 loudspeakers, which showed a wide dynamic range and outstanding detailing.
John Atkinson  |  Jan 12, 2012  |  12 comments
Unlike consumer shows, live music at a CES is a rarity, so it was a treat to listen to the California Guitar Trio performing at the party Harman threw to celebrate the 40th anniversary of the Mark Levinson brand. Sponsored by Guitar Aficionado magazine, the Trio ripped through a wide repertoire, including "Pipeline" from surf music pioneers The Chantays, which they were playing as I took the photo. Jon Iverson has already discussed some of the 40th Anniversary Mark Levinson products; for me the party was an opportunity to catch up with speaker engineer Mark Glazer, responsible for the system design of both Revel's new Performa speakers (report to come) and many other great Revel speakers over the years.
John Atkinson  |  Jan 12, 2012  |  3 comments
Traditionally, high-performance audio at CES has been on display away from the ginormous Las Vegas Convention Center, also traditionally but gently derided by audiophiles as the "Zoo." But there are still one or two high-end companies to be found and as you can see from the photo, the LVCC was packed with people checking out the new technologies on show.
Jon Iverson  |  Jan 11, 2012  |  1 comments
First shown at RMAF last year and making its CES debut, the QA-9 is intended for audiophiles wishing to transfer their LPs and other analog sources to hard drive. It features two XLR left and right inputs that can run both balanced and unbalanced and has only a single USB output (up to 24/192) to your computer.

The QA-9 should be shipping in late February or early March at $3,950. An optional Word Clock Input Board upgrade is $800 and will allow the QA-9 to be synced to a master clock in a recording studio environment.

Ariel Brown (Ayre's senior engineer) also hinted at a new DAC at some point that would include both USB and SPDIF inputs.

John Atkinson  |  Jan 11, 2012  |  1 comments
The first morning of CES is traditionally when Stereophile presents its awards for the best products of the previous year, voted on by the magazine's editors and writers. Here, in the magazine's suite at the Venetian Hotel, awaiting their recipients are the 2011 Awards. My thanks to Ariel Bitran for doing a great job getting the awards to CES in time for the presentations.