CES 2016

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Robert Deutsch  |  Jan 08, 2016  |  6 comments
Getting near the top of the $4k–$18k range, at $16,500/pair is the Magico S1 (Mk.II)—which is actually the lowest-priced speaker from Magico. Although it looks similar to the original S1, the Mk II has a newly designed 1" diamond-coated Beryllium diaphragm tweeter and a new 7" mid/bass driver incorporating Magico's Nano-Tec cone material. As was the case for the Mk.I, the enclosure of the Mk.I is formed from a single piece of extruded aluminum, but with a new massive top plate machined to a 3D convex shape, and a thicker base plate.
Jason Victor Serinus  |  Jan 12, 2016  |  1 comments
Even though Robert Deutsch has blogged about Magico's new S1, Alon Wolf (right) prevailed upon me to take a (brief) listen. Paired with Convergent Audio Technology (CAT) monoblock amplifiers, the sound was lovely and warm. I did catch a bit of distortion on the right channel at one point, cause unknown, but Joni Mitchell's aging, low voice was maximally evocative, with an extra kiss of tube warmth.
John Atkinson  |  Jan 16, 2016  |  2 comments
“Bruno Putzeys designed a switch-mode power supply for our new headphone amplifier,” enthused EveAnna Manley, when I bumped into her in one of the Venetian’s corridors. The tubed amp, which doubles as a line preamplifier, costs $2950 and is drop-dead gorgeous in Champagne & White, Titanium & Bronze, or Copper & Black finishes.
Larry Greenhill  |  Jan 14, 2016  |  0 comments
I first encountered Levinson's new No.526 preamplifier ($15,000) when I visited the Mark Levinson Engineering Facility on September 30, 2015. The company embargoed any mention of the product until CES, so I went over to the Harman exhibit at the Hard Rock Café to take photos and get information. I was greeted by Levinson's Director of Engineering, Todd Eichenbaum (left) and Jim Garrett, Director of Product Development (right). They walked me through the design of the No.526. Jim presented the inner circuitry as a layer cake, with identical digital control board and DAC digital boards to those in the No.585 Integrated amplifier that I had reviewed in December 2015.
Jon Iverson, Larry Greenhill  |  Jan 12, 2016  |  5 comments
The new No. 519 is intended to be an all-encompassing source for digital playback and will include not only a CD transport, but also Bluetooth, streaming, network playback, DAC, digital volume control and headphone amp. On the back are AES/EBU, SPDIF, optical and USB inputs as well as ethernet networking jacks. There are both balanced and unbalanced analog outputs as well AES/EBU, SPDIF and optical digital outputs.
Jason Victor Serinus  |  Jan 15, 2016  |  0 comments
Boldly proclaiming that its new the Renaissance ESL 15 A ($24,995/pair) combines a 45" x 15" electrostatic transducer with dual 12" aluminum-cone woofers, dual 500W woofer amplifiers, bass and mid-bass level controls, and Anthem room correction, MartinLogan proceeded to mate it with excellent Constellation Audio amplifiers and MIT cabling.
Robert Deutsch  |  Jan 08, 2016  |  2 comments
Taking a photo of a single speaker for a show report presents a challenge, especially if the speaker is narrow and tall. In the case of the new MartinLogan EM-ESL X, the flagship of the ElectroMotion series (at $3995/pair, I make it close enough to $4000 be part of my territory), I solved the problem by enlisting the help of the uncommonly photogenic Erin Phillips, Communications Manager for MartinLogan and Paradigm.
John Atkinson  |  Jan 16, 2016  |  4 comments
"For Unto Us a Boy is Born" was playing when I looked into MBL’s suite at the Venetian and the sound—open, spacious, uncolored, full-range, musically communicative—on MBL's unique 101E omnidirectional speakers was so appealing, I settled down in the hot set for the rest of the piece from Handel's Messiah. The speakers were being bi-amped by preproduction samples—US availability is scheduled for March—of new models from the German company’s Noble line...
Jon Iverson  |  Jan 11, 2016  |  1 comments
Merging has been long respected in the pro recording industry with mastering engineers such as Bruce Brown using the company's Horus network audio converters in his studio. They have also been instrumental with DSD recording technology, so not surprising when I saw the new NADAC in Philip O'Hanlon's On a Higher Note suite at the very top of the Mirage hotel, Philip being a big DSD proponent himself.
John Atkinson  |  Jan 16, 2016  |  2 comments
In our March 2016 issue, Art Dudley loved the sound of Metronome’s CD8 S CD player, which has USB and serial digital inputs, though I found some issues on the test bench. At CES, the French company was showing this elegant server, the Music Center 1 (price tba), which plays CDs, music from a USB stick, a NAS drive, or from its internal RAID3 array (1–6TB available).
Jon Iverson  |  Jan 15, 2016  |  0 comments
One of my favorite new digital products, from an industrial design point of view, is the new all-in-one system from French company Micromega, designed by Daniel Schar. Assuming you have a nice flat place to put it (flat or on a wall), you can request a custom finish or go with standard black or bright orange as shown in the photo.
Herb Reichert  |  Jan 14, 2016  |  2 comments
I was out of audio, teaching and making art, for almost 12 years (2003–2014). During that time, on-line retailer Music Direct acquired the rights and relit the ancient Mobile Fidelity Sound Lab torch. Now both brands are burning more brightly than ever. I picked up the new ½"-thick Music Direct Catalog at CES and it reminded me ever so much of an audiophile version of the soft-porn Bruce Weber created for the Abercrombie & Fitch catalog. The Music Direct catalog (#16) has Grace Slick and Janis Joplin on the cover and tons of crazy (almost-naked) gear inside! I can't stop looking.
Jon Iverson  |  Jan 14, 2016  |  0 comments
One of the great pleasures of CES is discovering new music. People come from all over the world, and often bring surprising choices.

Such was the case when distributor/retailer GTT Audio's Bill Parish asked what I'd like to listen to, and I turned it back over to him. I'm not sure who made the choice, but between Parish and Mola Mola's Bruna Putzeys, who had walked over, a track from Christine and the Queens emerged. New to me, and I've already ordered the disc on Amazon.

Robert Deutsch  |  Jan 08, 2016  |  1 comments
With two years in research and development, Monitor Audio's Platinum Series II involves—according to Dean Hartley, Monitor Audio's Technical Director—"advances in every area of design: electrical, mechanical, magnetic, acoustic and aesthetic."
Jason Victor Serinus  |  Jan 14, 2016  |  0 comments
Monitor Audio has now moved to its second-generation Platinum series loudspeakers, which Monitor presents as "most accurate and beautiful loudspeakers" the company has ever made. Shown was the top-of-the-line, towering PL500 II ($28,995/pair), whose front baffles are hand-upholstered in the same Ingleston leather used in many luxury British brands.

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