CES 2014

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Jon Iverson  |  Jan 17, 2014  |  5 comments
Mola-Mola's Bruno Putzeys says that he wants to leapfrog the idea of incremental DAC design and create a product that puts us a decade down the road in one jump. To that end, he was showing off a prototype design that he has working, but not fit into a product yet. He adds that it should be ready in about a year.
Jason Victor Serinus  |  Jan 17, 2014  |  3 comments
"I'm a full-time music lover and a part-time audiophile," Gary Koh declared while demming his new Genesis GRA1440, class-D, truly differentially balanced monoblock amplifiers ($22,000/pair). "Music is inherently balanced," he said, as he played the stereo LP version of Al Grey and The Basie Wing's The Last of the Big Plungers, and proved that modified Hypex class-D modules, when incorporated into amplifiers that output 1440Wpc into 4 ohms and include a full Genesis power supply, can yield totally welcoming, alive and colorful sound. There was absolutely no hard edge to be heard on this system.
John Atkinson  |  Jan 17, 2014  |  2 comments
Jason Serinus has already reported on the excellent sound being produced by Joseph Audio’s Pearl Mk.3 speakers ($31,500/pair), which were being shown in their new, white finish and were being driven by the new Bel Canto "Black" electronics. But of more interest to this reporter were two new models from Jeff Joseph, who is shown in my photo with a pair of the Prism standmounts ($3699/pair) and a single Profile floorstander ($6999/pair).
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.
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 17, 2014  |  0 comments
When WAVAC’s North American distributor, Covenant Audio Consulting, chose to stage the world debut of WAVAC’s eye-catching, directly heated single-ended triode HE-833v2 150W monoblock amplifiers ($79,900/presumably for the pair) with the massive SoundLab Majestic 845PX electrostatic loudspeakers ($35,000/pair), no one expected that high frequencies would project mostly from the top of the speaker, above the heads of seated listeners. Thus it was only when I stood that I was able to appreciate both the beautiful top and fine midrange transmitted by the HE-833v2s in conjunction with WAVAC’s PR-T1 transformer-coupled, three-chassis preamp ($30,900) and AC02 power conditioner ($22,900). Next time, I’ll bring my elevator shoes.
Jason Victor Serinus  |  Jan 17, 2014  |  0 comments
Rogers High Fidelity's New York-manufactured, aerospace engineering-based system, which included the just-launched PA-1A six-tube phono preamplifier ($7100) (pictured on the right) and EHF-200MK2 KT150-based, 112Wpc integrated amplifier ($15,000), delivered extremely quiet, beautifully warm and lovely sound with Shunyata power conditioning, Kimber Kable, and Davone Grande loudspeakers. The two Rogers pieces also looked fabulous.
John Atkinson  |  Jan 17, 2014  |  2 comments
Arcam used to CES to launch a “statement” integrated amplifier, the FMJ A49. Priced at $5000, the A49 offers 200Wpc into 8 ohms (with the first 50W in class-A), 400Wpc into 4 and features a class-G output stage, fully balanced topology, MM/MC phono stages, and a onboard power supply for Arcam’s rSeries of wired and wireless DACs. While Arcam’s lower-priced products are made in China, the new amplifier is the first products to be manufactured in the USA, at the parent company’s facility in Rochester, New York.
Jon Iverson  |  Jan 17, 2014  |  0 comments
Though I was in the Avatar room asking about new digital products, somehow this one was missed, so thanks to Jason Serinus for coming up with a photo for me. There was also a little confusion about the name of the product, but we're going with Scaena Mainframe for now.

The company info says that the new server plays all formats of audio and video and features an aluminum enclosure with liquid cooling, Xenon processor, "error correcting" RAM, and a custom 7" touch tablet to run everything. The Mainframe also runs off of a lithium battery power supply that can go for up to 12 hours on a charge.

No pricing or availability info yet.

Jon Iverson  |  Jan 17, 2014  |  0 comments
Lumin had an entire row of new network players scheduled for release mid-year--all with prices still to be determined. Starting at the left, the S1 will be the flagship model and probably come in over $7k. The S1 handles DSD 64&128 and up to 24/192 PCM, includes four ESS Sabre 9018 DAC chips and also HDMI output.
Jon Iverson  |  Jan 17, 2014  |  0 comments
At the back of their suite, in a private room to the side, was a new prototype Player/DAC called the E31 which will feature 24/192 PCM capability, USB 1&2, SPDIF and AES/EBU digital inputs. Price and availability have not been set yet, but the player did have a beautiful round remote and a sensor on top that detects when someone approaches and then turns on the display.

Later in the year we'll see the new E41 DAC added to the line which should have the same basic specs at the E31 and also DSD.

Jason Victor Serinus  |  Jan 17, 2014  |  2 comments
Resolution Audio has yet to name or price its new 100W monoblock amplifiers, due in May, but they may come in around $9000/pair. Their push-pull design is licensed from English engineer Denis Morecroft. Build is distinguished by custom T-network caps and, in the company's words, "crazy careful attention to detail."
John Atkinson  |  Jan 17, 2014  |  13 comments
When I interviewed Thiel’s new owner Bill Thomas (right in photo) at the 2013 CES, he was bullish about the company’s future. However, I felt that future was going to be dependent on whom Bill hired to head up the Kentucky company’s engineering team. At the 2014 CES, Bill introduced me to that person, Mark Mason (left), who had come to Thiel from PSB, where he had worked alongside veteran speaker engineer Paul Barton. Bill and Mark are flanking the new TT3 speaker, which is intended to replace the CS3.7 as the company’s flagship when it comes to market in the late summer. Bill feels that with Mark now leading the engineering, Thiel can be taken to a larger customer base.
John Atkinson  |  Jan 17, 2014  |  0 comments
Yes, those are moving-coil woofers. From Martin-Logan, the electrostatic company. ML’s new Motion Series speaker, to be priced at around $3000/pair when it is available in the late summer, is a big brother to the Motion 40 tower. The speaker uses the largest yet Folded Motion XT tweeter to come from MartinLogan, marrying it to a 6.5" midrange unit and a pair of 8" woofers. and although the company is still based in Kansas, its speakers are now made in Canada. Though it was demmed with Peachtree amplification, the speaker suffered from the suboptimal room acoustics.
Jason Victor Serinus  |  Jan 17, 2014  |  0 comments
Due late February, the cute Monitor Audio Airstream A100 50Wpc, class-A/B, integrated amplifier ($500) is a pure analog design that can work on its own, or as part of an audio/TV-based system. It is compatible with Airplay and Airplay Direct as well as the Monitor Audio Airstream App-based controller, can navigate music collections and stream music, supports DLNA (Digital Living Network Alliance) streaming, has a front-panel USB input, built-in hi-res DAC, stereo RCA pre/sub outputs, and offers control via front panel or slender remote. The sound was clean, crisp, and fast through Monitor Audio's GX50 loudspeakers ($1800/pair).