CES 2013

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Larry Greenhill  |  Jan 13, 2013  |  2 comments
Lamm Industries introduced the new LP-1 Signature dual-mono phono preamplifier ($32,790), with two separate chassis power supplies. Each channel uses two high-transconductance triodes without feedback. The new phono preamplifier was used in a system with Lamm ML-3 amplifers ($159,490), an LL-1 preamplifier ($42,790), connected to a pair of Wilson Audio MAXX3 speakers ($69,500/pair) with Kubala-Sosna cables throughout. Music was played on a Kronos turntable ($32,000) fitted with a Graham Phantom II Supreme tonearm ($6000) and a ZYX Universal II cartridge ($8,495). Vladimir Lamm was also using two pairs of his ML2.2 monoblocks ($37,290/pair) to drive a pair of Verity Audio Lohengrin loudspeakers ($120,000/pair) in an adjoining room. The sound in both rooms was spacious, smooth, dynamic, and full.
Jason Victor Serinus  |  Jan 13, 2013  |  0 comments
Darren Censullo of Avatar Acoustics always puts on a good show, but with his wife, Bonnie, was eager at CES to introduce Canadian company Tri-Art Audio, whose founder, Steve Ginsberg, has returned to his audio roots after a detour in the artistic acrylic paints industry. Tri-Art's "The Block" 50W monoblock amplifiers (price TBD, probably around $2500–$2600), "The Bam Bam" turntable and tonearm (again probably around $2600), and "The Block" 24V DC battery power supply (price TBD) include new digital chips, are voiced with natural materials, and boast a very simple single-ended signal path.
Larry Greenhill  |  Jan 13, 2013  |  0 comments
Peter Madnick's latest design for Constellation is the Virgo 2 preamplifier ($24,000), which uses an outboard power supply. It was shown with a Cygnus non-streaming Digital File Player ($24,000); Constellation's Centaur stereo amplifier ($28,000), Constellation's Centaur monoblocks ($56,000/pair). The Constellation amplifiers shown in the photo were driving the Magico Q7 loudspeakers ($165,000/pair) in biamped fashion, with a pair of Centaur monoblocks for the woofers, and a stereo Centaur for the midrange and tweeters. The resulting sound was smooth and very well controlled.
Jason Victor Serinus  |  Jan 13, 2013  |  0 comments
With Jon Iverson covering digital products for Stereophile, and me covering preamps and amps in the $2500–$15,000 range, I tossed a virtual coin and went for the new Vitus RD-100 ($13,000). Billed as "Reference Digital to Analog Converter," it is 50% DAC, and 50% preamp. Hans-Ole Vitus himself displays the product, which includes a full-blown relay volume control with a single resistor in series to ensure a very short signal path and a consistent sonic signature at all volume levels. Built with separate internal modules—four for the DAC, and four for the preamp—it is said to be fully upgradeable. The DAC handles files up to 32/192 via USB and has a total of four RCA and XLR inputs, while the preamp also includes two XLR and two RCA inputs and both XLR and RCA outputs.
Larry Greenhill  |  Jan 13, 2013  |  0 comments
Bryston's new product line-up for 2013 includes a replacement for its venerable 2B stereo amplifier, the 2.5B amplifier ($2995). Similar to the new BP-17 preamplifier ($3550, see below), the 2.5B amplifier is derived from the amplifier portion of its B-135 SST2 integrated amplifier (see related story). Bryston's James Tanner explained that the upgrade employs a much beefier power supply than its predecessor, allowing it to deliver 135Wpc into 8 ohm load impedances. Bryston's new BP-17 preamplifier ($3550) is derived from the preamplifier portion of its B-135 integrated amplifier, which features balanced outputs and advanced circuitry derived from the SP-3 surround processor. The B-17 closely resembles the B-135, differing externally only in not having heatsinks and speaker outputs on the rear panel. The BP17 utilizes a software controlled, motorized analog volume dial and integrated balance control.
Jason Victor Serinus  |  Jan 13, 2013  |  1 comments
I'm so glad that Venture of Belgium and Singapore has a new line of cabling, because it gave me an excuse to hear Reference Recordings' "Pie Jesu" from the Rutter Requiem as I've never heard it before. I was blown away by the huge dynamics, room fixture-shaking bass, mind-boggling clarity of the massed voices, and sheer beauty of the sound. Gorgeous.
Jason Victor Serinus  |  Jan 13, 2013  |  1 comments
Torus Power of Toronto has introduced two new power conditioners. The In-Wall Mount Power Conditioner (price TBD upon release in March), held by Matthew Roher, Business Development Manager, is an entry-level product that includes surge suppression, noise filtration. The black AVR2 ($4995), shows to Roher's right, offers an additional level of IP control to the company's AVR series, maintains a stable 120V, and includes an automatic shut-off designed to handle quick voltage changes.
Jason Victor Serinus  |  Jan 13, 2013  |  2 comments
The Kimber Select line is sporting three new USB cables, whose prices are yet TBD: copper (approx. $500), hybrid (approx. $1000), and full silver (approx. $1500). Shipment is projected for late January. The cables, built entirely in Utah, feature a braided design, unique proprietary shielding, and a distinct ebony head shell chosen for its inert properties. Presumably, thoughts of the lovely sounds soon to be delivered by these new cables were enough to leave Kimber's photo-shy Nate Mansfeld smiling.
Jason Victor Serinus  |  Jan 13, 2013  |  0 comments
Bret d'Agostino's Bully Sound Company has introduced the BSC 60s power amplifier ($7950), a pure class-A design that promises 60Wpc into 8 ohms, with output doubling down to 1 ohm. Neal Van Berg of Colorado's Sound Science claims that it gets deeper bass out of his Harbeths than any other amplifier he's used. One novel feature of the design is its internal heatsinks, which add to its handsome looks.
Jon Iverson  |  Jan 13, 2013  |  0 comments
Naim had jumped early into the digital networking waters several years back, and their most recent state-of-the-art offering is the NDS Network Player. Retailing at $11,000, the NDS also requires purchase of a power supply; the company recommends the 555 PS at $9,000.

The NDS can stream music from your NAS drive (ethernet and WiFi), has a built-in vTuner for internet radio, connections for your iDevices, and plenty of input choices including three 32/192 SPDIF jacks.

There is a small monochrome display on the front panel, and a push-button remote. But most users will probably gravitate towards the Naim n-Stream app that runs your iPhone, iPod Touch and iPad.

Larry Greenhill  |  Jan 13, 2013  |  0 comments
Cary Audio demonstrated its CAD-211 ($20,000/pair) 150W tube amplifiers, two-chassis piece SLP-05 tube preamplifier ($8500), and CD-303T SACD player ($6500), with Tannoy's flagship floorstander, the Kingdom Royal ($55,000/pair). All cabling was by WyWires. The Tannoy is a four-way speaker design, with a 15" woofer handling music below 150Hz, the midrange handling up to 700Hz, the tweeter up to 17kHz, and the super-tweeter up to 65kHz. The Kingdom Royal is very sensitive at 94dB/W/m —the resulting sonics were clear, delicate, and musically involving. And as John Atkinson said when he listened to this system, “there’s no substitute for horsepower.”
Larry Greenhill  |  Jan 13, 2013  |  0 comments
Pass Laboratories, who introduced the Xs line of flagship 150W and 300W amplifiers at last year's CES, brought out a new preamplifier, the Pass Labs Xs preamplifier (price to be determined). It features a single control chassis that carries the line level audio signal and an external power supply. The Xs preamplifier was used to drive a pair of Pass Labs Xs300 ($85,000/pair) power amps connected to a pair of Sony SS-ARI ($27,000/pair) loudspeakers. The Pass Lab team obliged me by playing a fresh vinyl pressing from Japan of the Proprius Cantate Domino recording. The dynamic range and control of the pipe organ pedal notes was remarkable, making the Pass Labs one of the best-sounding setups I heard at the show the first day.
Jason Victor Serinus  |  Jan 13, 2013  |  0 comments
At a show in which far too many of the rooms on my beat—rooms showing new amps or preamps in the $2500–$15,000 range, new cables, or new power products or accessories—sounded hard, harsh, and hi-fi, VTL's new S-200 Stereo Signature amplifier ($10,000) and TL6.5 Series II Signature line preamplifier ($13,000) stood out for their welcoming warmth, relaxed flow, and unfailing musicality. The S-200 is a fully balanced stereo amp with a class-A/B output stage that is said to remain in class-A up to 70 watts. In development for close to six years, it arrives equipped with VTL's familiar auto-biasing and fault sensor.
Larry Greenhill  |  Jan 13, 2013  |  4 comments
Boulder Amplifiers, Inc., introduced its new Model 3060 Stereo balanced, class-A amplifier ($114,000), a huge, 900Wpc, solid-state amplifier that weighs 450 lbs! Sitting nearby was the company's flagship monoblock, the silver 3060 ($205,000/pair), a class-A 1500W power amplifier shown in my photograph. A large cylindrical tube, containing 4 large mineral-potted toroidal power transformers, runs down the inside middle of the chassis. This is said to dampen any transformer-induced vibration. The mono amplifier uses 120 high-temperature rated bipolar transistors and 48, 160V, high-temperature rated, 4700µuF electrolytic capacitors for energy storage. Large circuit boards slide into frames at the top of the chassis, each board containing hundreds of discrete parts. With a pair of these amplifiers weighing 440 lbs, Boulder does not want this amplifier to require service, and its build quality signifies that.
Larry Greenhill  |  Jan 13, 2013  |  1 comments
Revel’s new Rhythm 2 subwoofer ($10,000) contains a pair of 2000W class-D amplifiers (said to offer 4kW on peaks); an 18" driver with a 4” voice-coil; over 114dB maximum acoustic output; high-resolution DSP room equalization; fully configurable electronic crossover; and PC or Mac setup via USB. Kevin Voecks, its designer, described how the subwoofer's highly sophisticated DSP engine can equalize both the subwoofer and the satellite speakers. The DSP-driven room equalization generates adjustments from one set of room measurements, correcting for as many as 10 modes in the frequency range of 20–400Hz.