CES 2018

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John Atkinson  |  Jan 16, 2018  |  1 comments
I was working on our video coverage of the 2018 CES with our resident videographer Jana Dagdagan, and as video is such a time sink, I wasn't able to visit as many rooms as I usually do. But one room I managed to visit and that stood out when it came to sound quality was Constellation's.
Jason Victor Serinus  |  Jan 13, 2018  |  6 comments
The three best lower-cost systems that I heard at CES were this one ($7105 total) and others from Chord/Spendor and Music Hall; thanks in no small part to Totem's founder, Vince Bruzzese, whose extensive traveling has brought him in touch with a treasure chest's worth of eclectic titles that he searched out on Tidal and then purchased in physical form, this one was hands down the most musically enjoyable.
Jon Iverson  |  Jan 10, 2018  |  0 comments
Earlier this year Anthem launched the STR Integrated Amplifier in a return to 2-channel, and representative Devin Zell explained that they have expanded that line this year with a 2-channel preamp and dedicated amplifier. The STR preamp goes for $4,000 and the STR amplifier goes for $6,000 and are available now.
Jon Iverson  |  Jan 15, 2018  |  0 comments
Arcam's Scott Campbell was running through the new lineup of HDA products starting with the Integrated Amps. "This is the start of our new 2-channel range. The Player and SA10 are each $1,000 and the SA20 is $1,300. Both amplifiers are new for us since this is the first time we've put digital inputs on the back. We've taken our experience with how to tackle digital noise in our AV receivers and put that knowledge into how to do that properly in a two-channel amplifier."
John Atkinson  |  Jan 13, 2018  |  1 comments
Some manufacturers weren't exhibiting at CES but did have suites elsewhere in the Venetian hotel. One such was Audio Research, who was showing the first amplifier to be designed following the passing of the company's long-time Senior Design Engineer, Ward Fiebiger, who died of a heart attack last March. The Ref160M monoblock offers around 150W into 8 ohms and will cost in the region of $30,000/pair.
Jason Victor Serinus  |  Jan 15, 2018  |  1 comments
Because Art Dudley is writing a Follow-Up review to Michael Fremer's take on the Audio Technica AT-ART1000 direct-power stereo MC phono cartridge ($4999), I shall replace lots of words with this blow-up of a cartridge whose coils sit at the tip of the cantilever, right over its diamond stylus.
Jason Victor Serinus  |  Jan 14, 2018  |  0 comments
The wireless version of Audioengine's highly regarded A5+ loudspeakers ($499/pair in black or white, $569 in bamboo) uses aptX HD Bluetooth to transmit signals up to 24/48…
John Atkinson  |  Jan 13, 2018  |  67 comments
If there is one thing that raises the hackles of engineers, it is audiophiles' insistence that power cords affect sound quality. But at CES, AudioQuest's Garth Powell (right in photo, with AQ's Alex Brinkmann) was showing how changing just one cable in a system, the one connecting a Simaudio Moon CD player to a Niagara 700 power conditioner, could make or break the system's sound quality. Playing a track from Muddy Waters' Folk Singer, with Moon amplification and Magico S1 Mk.2 speakers, and without changing the volume, Garth compared AudioQuest's new Thunder cable ($700) with AC cables from other companies priced up to $18,000, culminating with the AudioQuest Dragon ($4000).
Jason Victor Serinus  |  Jan 15, 2018  |  0 comments
Paired with the same Theta Gen. VIII DAC/preamp ($15,995)/Theta Compli Blu transport ($3995) combo and VPI Avenger reference turntable ($20,000) as in the SAE room, but with a TR phono cartridge ($7000) replacing the Zu, this room showcased CAT's brand new MBX 1250.2 FD XPR twin monoblock amplifier ($30,000), which outputs 1250Wpc in to 4 ohms, and MBX 320.2 FD ($10,000) twin monoblock amplifier, which outputs 320W into 8 ohms. The amps were driving a bi-amped pair of CAT loudspeakers, specifically voiced for this hotel room, which consisted of CAT MBX 900 Trinity satellites resting upon MBX Miramar subwoofers ($100,000/pair for all). Analog crossovers were employed, and the subs were dialed-in through a CAT MBX DSP8x8 digital signal processor ($15,000).
Jon Iverson  |  Jan 09, 2018  |  2 comments
Found taped to a locked door among the regular exhibitors. Presumably they paid for the room anyways?
Jason Victor Serinus  |  Jan 16, 2018  |  35 comments
Photo by John Atkinson

The question, "What if they Gave a CES and Nobody Came?," which headlined my As We See It from mid-2016, was echoed by a similar title on Jon Iverson's opening blog for our coverage of CES 2018. Yet hopes and fears that our industry's increasingly limited presence in the Venetian would sound the death knell for "high performance audio" at CES do not reflect the experience of those who this year chose to either exhibit or wander hallways and eateries in search of dealers and distributors.

Jason Victor Serinus  |  Jan 10, 2018  |  34 comments
For John Atkinson and me, CES began with a trip to the Hi-Res Pavilion in the Las Vegas Convention Center's enormous Central Hall. John must have been a dog in a past lifetime, because his ability to find the booth in the middle of that huge glittering morass, which could be euphemistically characterized as high tech on steroids, smacked of a sixth sense.
Jana Dagdagan  |  Jan 19, 2018  |  8 comments
For our video coverage of the 2018 Consumer Electronics show in Las Vegas, we purchased Sennheiser's "Ambeo" binaural system, which mounts microphones on the outer surfaces of a pair of earbuds, thus allowing the ears' pinnae to influence each mike's pick-up pattern. The Ambeo connects to an iPhone. In this report, John Atkinson visits the Lamm, Vandersteen, and VTL rooms, talks to exhibitors about their systems and their thoughts on the show, listens to some of his recordings, as well as some chosen by the exhibitors, and offers his thoughts on what he had just heard. But first, Michael Fremer shows off his Karaoke skills!
John Atkinson  |  Jan 16, 2018  |  2 comments
When Jason Victor Serinus visited the Bluebird Audio room on the Venetian's 35th floor, he mentioned that Chord was demonstrating its Blu Mk.2 CD transport ($11,788) along with the Dave DAC that I reviewed and was impressed by last June. I chatted with Chord's digital guru Robert Watts (above in photo) about the new transport and he mentioned that it incorporated his latest WTA (Watts Transient Aligned) digital filter with a million taps! (The more taps there are, the closer a DAC can reproduce the timing information in the reconstructed analog signal—see my DAVE review for why Robert feels why this should be so.) I was puzzled, as a digital reconstruction filter belongs in a DAC, not a transport.
Jason Victor Serinus  |  Jan 11, 2018  |  8 comments
Sitting next to its big brother DAC/transport combo, Chord Mezzo 75 amplifier (75Wpc into 4 ohms, $4995), and new Spendor A2 loudspeakers ($2395/pair) was the diminutive new Chord Qutest DAC ($1795).

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