HIGH END 2019 Show Top 10 Design Awards
Gryphon Ethos CD Player
Gryphon is justly proud of their new Ethos CD Player. It's a very striking component and built to exacting standards. Ethos uses eight dual differential dual mono DACs – the latest ESS SABRE ES9038PRO 32 bit chips. It has advanced upsampling to bring the signal to 32-bit/384kHz before filtering, feeding into a Class A fully discrete output stage.
Users of Gryphon Audio's Ethos CD player have a choice of seven PCM and three DSD filters. The transport is a CD-Pro8 with an all metal chassis and extensive decoupling. PCM inputs up to 32-bit/384kHz and DSD inputs up to DSD512 are offered on USB, with PCM up to 24-bit/192kHz on BNC and XLR. This one will sell for $39,800.
I'm going to give MSB an award for its entire stack. The minimalist look is superbly executed, and while I'll miss the old circular Platinum Power Amp, the new S500 Stereo and M500 Mono power amps integrate much better with the partnering DACs and Transport. But the beauty is not just skin deep.
You have to look at the modular internal design of MSB's DACs to see just how refined these components are. Here we see Vince Galbo, National Sales Manager for North America, standing next to one of the company's creations. Here's a view inside the Select DA. Paired with Magico M6 speakers, the MSB components sounded fully open, resolute and free flowing, easily one of the best sounds at the show.
Mag-Lev Audio ML1 Turntable
What can I say? It's pretty spectacular to see a spinning platter with no visible means of support. Magnetic levitation has its drawbacks of course. It's very hard to achieve the level of stability required, and very few cartridges can operate successfully in a strong magnetic field, which is why Slovenia's Mag-Lev Audio bundle a suitable arm and cartridge combination with their turntables. But these are early days for the idea and for this company, and interesting developments are likely to emerge in the not too distant future. It's great to see that the geek factor is matched with a very clean design. Of course, I'd like to see a Mag-Lev working with ELP to create the ultimate frictionless design – a magnetic levitation laser turntable!
Vivid Audio Giya G1 Spirit Loudspeaker
I love it when spectacularly good looking components derive their good looks from sound acoustic design. So it is with the Giya G1 Spirit partnered here by a TechDAS Zero turntable and CH Precision amplification. Available in a variety of colors, this $93,000 speaker sits at the very top of Vivid's line. While remarkably similar in looks to the original Giya G1 which I saw about ten years ago when it premiered in Vegas, the sound is now considerably more refined, dynamic and powerful. After all this time, no one has caught up with the superb looks, although Sonus Faber runs it close.
It's a four-way, five driver component with a glass reinforced balsa cored sandwich composite cabinet. A 26mm metal dome tweeter and 50mm metal dome midrange driver each load into a Tapered Tube. The lower midrange driver features a 125mm alloy / carbon diaphragm while two opposing side mounted bass drivers have 225mm alloy diaphragms. Bass loading is via an exponentially tapered tube. The Spirit offers a high 92dB/W/m sensitivity and is flat from 29Hz to 33kHz Hz (+/-2dB). I loved the sound in this room, very airy and spacious.
ELAC VELA BS 403
You don't need to spend tens of thousands of dollars to get excellent industrial design. ELAC's VELA offers a high class lacquered and wooden veneered cabinet in a convex trapezoid shape. VELA has a JET 5 tweeter (the 5th generation of the superb Heil Air Motion Transformer) and a familiar 150mm ELAC AS XR cone. The bottom plate is aluminum and features a down firing bass reflex port. UK price is £1750. Remarkable sound from a box small.
Bassocontinuo Ultimate Line
What do you do when you are tired of designing the most beautiful Italian shoes? If you are Lorenzo Belloli, you switch to audio of course. And you design a range of racks covering a wide range of prices. You offer a huge range of leather finishes, racks to match some prestigious component lines, even bespoke offerings. But new to the show is the Ultimate Line, featuring a new material, Fenix NTA, containing nanoparticles that enable thermal repairability of micro scratches.
Besides being highly resistant to abrasion, it doesn't show fingerprints, it is only marginally reflective, and it is comfortable to the touch. The shelves float, suspended on nitrile rubber bearings to isolate form vibrations. A massive (25 lbs.) damper is attached to the lower part of the top shelf to control resonant frequencies. The structure is fully modular, and the chassis is machined from blocks of stainless steel. The shelves are constructed of a sandwich of different materials – Velcromath a super HDF, interspersed with a sheet of aluminum. This was the first showing for the Ultimate Line. All Bassocontinuo racks are made and designed in Italy.