CES 2016

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Herb Reichert  |  Jan 08, 2016  |  1 comments
His name was Thom Pahmer and he broke all my rules: It was 10am the first day of the show and I walked in to his empty room, I introduced myself, "Good morning. My name is Herb Reichert and I covering the lower cost part of the High End for Stereophile—and I am especially interested in stand-mounted speakers." Mr. Pahmer looked at me crossly and said, "These are NOT stand mounted speakers!" I pointed at what I thought was a stand and he says, "The speakers are bolted to them—it is all one unit." I asked about the retail price and he told me, $5500/pair.
Jason Victor Serinus  |  Jan 11, 2016  |  0 comments
Dan D'Agostino Master Audio Systems' newly upgraded Momentum monoblocks, now called the Momentum M400 monoblocks ($65,000/pair, and shipping now), sounded fantastic in the dCS Suite in the Mirage. The photo is slightly deceptive, because this early-issue pair is housed in the slightly different, original Momentum chassis, but who cares? The mating of D'Agostino Momentum400 monoblocks with Wilson Audio Alexia loudspeakers, Transparent Audio Generation V cabling, HRS SXR isolation system with new Vortex isolators, Meletzsky Stromtank power supply system, and the newly upgraded dCS Vivaldi DAC system delivered the most color-saturated, full-range, impactful, emotionally satisfying and frankly wondrous sound of any room I visited at CES.
Jason Victor Serinus  |  Jan 11, 2016  |  0 comments
While I left coverage of the newly upgraded dCS Vivaldi stack and the recently released Rossini player (which John Atkinson will review) for Jon Iverson's time in the dCS suite with Graham Nash, I will note that its new filters and upgraded Ring DAC software algorithm (which includes the ability of the original dCS mapper to run at two different speeds), together with advanced word-clock management and signal processing, produce a readily noticeable improvement in sound.
Robert Deutsch  |  Jan 08, 2016  |  0 comments
The Monitor Audio Platinum II involves some major improvements in driver technology. Dean Hartley told me that they had moved a good way towards completion of these changes when the original Platinum Series speakers were introduced, but they felt that further improvements were possible, and they wanted to be absolutely sure they got it right, so they played it safe by going with the existing technology.
Robert Deutsch  |  Jan 12, 2016  |  1 comments
Now distributed in the US by MoFi distribution, the venerable Quad Electroacoustics has a new non-electrostatic line, the Z series, which uses woven glass-fiber cones for the midrange and bass units, allied to a "true ribbon" tweeter. The tweeter is said to have descended from the original Corner Ribbon, which preceded the electrostatic Quad ESL-57. On static display at CES 2016 were the Z-3 ($4199/pair, left side of the ESL-2812 in the center of the photo) and the Z-4 ($4000/pair, on the right).
Herb Reichert  |  Jan 09, 2016  |  3 comments
Dynaudio's new Xeo 2 ($1599/pair) is beautiful, it is powered (130Wpc), and it plays music more like a "wired" speaker than any "un-wired" loudspeaker I have ever heard...
Robert Deutsch  |  Jan 12, 2016  |  1 comments
Not having been actively involved in the turntable scene until recently, I found out for the first time about European Audio Team (EAT) at this year's CES. I was intrigued by the look of the various EAT turntables and arms, especially the E-Flat turntable with its flat arm ($4475). My guess was that the turntable was direct-drive, but the charming Jozefina Lichtenegger, the company's CEO (above), told me that the turntable was belt-driven, with a 35 lb platter.
Jason Victor Serinus  |  Jan 15, 2016  |  0 comments
Now this is an interesting one. Using the same Dan D'Agostino Momentum monoblocks ($65,000/pair) as in the Wilson Alexia/dCS suite in the Mirage, albeit with the new case work; the same dCS Rossini player ($28,499) and Rossini Clock ($7499) as in that room, and whose sound I know quite well because I've spent considerable time with the player in my own listening room; an even higher Opus level of Transparent Cabling than in the Wilson/dCS suite; and the not too shabby Dan D'Agostino Master Audio Systems Momentum preamplifier ($32,000), EgglestonWorks' Ivy Signature SE Reference Series loudspeakers ($155,250/pair) made an entirely different impression.
Herb Reichert  |  Jan 09, 2016  |  16 comments
Everywhere I go I hear about Andrew Jones the speaker design wizard, and how suddenly, this "trending" new combination of established manufacturing smarts (ELAC America) and engineering magic is making high-value speakers at astonishingly low prices. (I had just submitted a review of the ELAC Debut B6 for the May issue of Stereophile before boarding the plane for Vegas.)
Jon Iverson  |  Jan 15, 2016  |  12 comments
For some reason I liked this product the moment I saw it. And at $1,099, including a lifetime full Roon license (for $1,000 you get a lifetime limited Roon license), it became even more interesting once I started digging into the features. Essentially, you can run Roon on your tablet and use the DS-S101 as your endpoint without the need for a computer.
Herb Reichert  |  Jan 13, 2016  |  3 comments
Roy Hall, the master of the "wee dram" (of single-malt Scotch) was demonstrating all this Creek wonderfulness with the Epos K3, three-way, floorstanding loudspeakers ($2395/pair) which, like the Creek gear that he distributes in the US, showcased beauty, charm, fine detail, and of course: a wee bit of drunken revelry.
Jon Iverson  |  Jan 14, 2016  |  0 comments
Though there was scant information, here's a photo of the planned new network player from Esoteric, protected by a plastic box. I was told to ignore the back panel so don't know what connectivity is planned, and in another room, a rep suggested that this prototype is actually one of their products with a one-off front panel attached. Supposed to be here this summer when all gets sorted out.
Jason Victor Serinus  |  Jan 07, 2016  |  5 comments
With my assignment high-priced amps, preamps, loudspeakers, and turntables, I started off by heading to the big rooms in the Venetian Tower. First up was the Esoteric–Cabasse room, where Esoteric was showing the latest incarnations of its “2” series, the Tokyo-made C-02X stereo line-stage preamplifier and S-02 stereo amplifier ($20,000 each). In a classic case of “trickle-down engineering” (which actually works, while trickle down economics rarely does), the preamp uses the same dual-layer supercaps as in the Grandioso ($40,000). It’s a fully balanced design, with a separate volume control for each phase of each channel. The sound is claimed to be faster, lighter, and more highly resolved, with a “big open soundstage.”
Jason Victor Serinus  |  Jan 14, 2016  |  0 comments
GamuT designer Benno Baun Meldgaard, whose 41 years give the lie to those who suggest that the High End is populated solely by old fart engineers, joined Audio Skies distributor Michael Vamos (left in photo) for the press launch of GamuT's new "no-compromise" loudspeaker, the Zodiac ($139,000/pair). Featuring a cabinet composed of 27 layers of wood of different thicknesses, a new tweeter and companion drivers, and phase alignment between the crucial frequencies of 200 Hz—15 kHz, the Zodiac comes with a massive spiked stand adjustable according to listening distance. It is designed to have the agility and speed of a stand-mount. Only 12 pairs will be built a year, which to my way of thinking makes the point-to-point wired speaker an instant collector's item, and each pair will be fine-tuned at the buyer's home by Meldgaard.
Herb Reichert  |  Jan 14, 2016  |  0 comments
In a second GoldenEar room they had a Jefferson nickel standing on edge on top of the new "Super Sub X" bass speaker ($1249 each).

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