International CES /
T.H.E. Show 2007 Report
Bonus Coverage By Dick Olsher
here to e-mail journalist.
From Italy with love. Distributed by Simetel, the folks who also bring us Nightingale tube electronics, Concentus specializes in open baffle designs. Shown here is the Cetra which uses 2 woofers, 1 midrange, and 1 tweeter per channel. The baffle size is fairly small (48x90x10 cm) and beautifully finished. Concentus believes that open baffle technology allows a loudspeaker to properly reproduce the soundstage. Amen to that! I can tell you that these speakers definitely delineate a supremely spacious stage. The line is said to be tube amplifier friendly and the sonic presentation was very natural when driven by Nightingale tube gear
Based in Germany, AcousticPlan seeks innovative solutions with the aim of reproducing the original sound authentically with its emotional impact intact. In addition to a full amplification line, the Avarta and Veena (shown here) loudspeakers dispense with a traditional speaker cabinet in favor of open baffle dipole radiation. Both passive and active bass drive are used.
The system shown here was easily one of the top musical performers, regardless of price. It represents, I'm told, Mike Slaminski's (Precision Audio and Video) personal system. The various contributors to this outstanding system were Venture Excellence speakers ($56,000/pr), Silicon Arts Design CF-080 preamplifier ($18,000) and ZL-120 power amplifier ($23,000), Esoteric UX-1 transport, Weiss Medea DAC ($13,500), cabling by FMS, Sound Application RLS-1 powerline conditioners ($7,000), and Cornerstone platform and Bedrock equipment stands by Precision Audio and Video.
Scaena - Latin for stage or scene - is the name chosen by George Bischoff for his monumental new loudspeaker. What you have here is effectively a three-way design consisting of a line array of mid-woofers, a ribbon for upper frequency reproduction and a stackable array of 18-inch woofers for deep bass augmentation. Despite more than a passing resemblance to an alien life form, the Scaena integrated surprisingly well. The sonic presentation was clean, detailed, and projected a spacious soundstage with the sort of height perspective conventional speakers can only dream of. The tonal balance was authoritative and bass lines had plenty of punch. In all, an amazing first effort.
PBN Audio's Master Reference loudspeaker ($85,000) system includes one power amplifier and a bass extender module. With two 8" woofers and two 10" woofers per side, you can expect it to reproduce extreme dynamics with the greatest of ease. Yet, this is a muscle speaker like no other; it seems to have retained the soul of a small speaker, as it is still able to image and retrieve low-level detail in the mold of a mini-monitor.
On first appearance, the Renaissance Chorus loudspeaker seems like an innocuous 11" cube. But looks can be deceiving. It was designed to take advantage of ceiling reflections to produce a spacious soundstage even under less than ideal placements. A single 6" UniDrive - 1.1" silk dome integrated with a woofer in a double magnet motor system - is used per side. The Chorus is designed to sit on the floor, and when arrayed optimally for music listening it can produce a remarkable out of the box sensation. I like it, and considering the suggested retail price of $995/pr, it should make a lot of friends
TBI Sound's Diamond I mini speaker struck me as an excellent personal speaker. It should prove ideal for multi media applications. Its sensitivity is given as 87 dB and it can be driven cleanly with a 3 watt input (less than 1% THD) over the range from 100 Hz to 20 kHz
Acoustic Revive is apparently the top manufacturer in the Japanese market for audio accessories. They put on a very effective (i.e., made a believer out of me) demonstration of some of their products, including a Disc Demagnetizer and a Negative Ion Generator for eliminating disc static charge accumulation.
Furutech has been generating quite a buzz in the US and earning kudos with their Disc Demagnetizer. Ironically, this technology, I was told, is being licensed from Acoustic Revive.
The Melody P1688 Signature tube preamplifier caught my attention in a big way. Melody Hi Fi is a high-end audio importer and distributor out of California and happens to be the exclusive US distributor for Melody Valve Hi Fi, an Australian company with a manufacturing plant in China. With that out of the way, I was intrigued by the tube complement which consists of 4 ea. 6SN7 (my favorite line driver), 1 ea. 5AR4 (my favorite tube rectifier), and 2 ea. the exotic looking 101D Western Electric type triodes.
It was good to see Kondo Audio Note. And in particular feat on the famous Onkagu 211 based single-ended amplifier.
Manley Labs was proudly flying the red, white and triode flag. Makes you feel that tubes are as American as apple pie.
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