International CES 2009
& THE Show Report
Within the larger room
in the Harbeth suite was their
40.1 driven by a Luxman integrated amplifier (I believe) that had a full, warm and inviting sound.
These large monitors ($13,000) were sitting atop beautifully crafted wood stands
from ResonantWoods.com in
In a rather expensive room I met Jim Aud from Purist Audio Design, a company that has made very high end cables featuring fluid and gel filled casings for many years. He figured he had about $20,000 worth in the system that was kicked off with a Marantz SACD player used as a transport for a Stahl~Tek Vekiandac ($17,000) that fed a KR Audio Kronzilla SXI integrated amplifier putting out 50 wpc ($25,000). The speakers were Peak Consult Zoltan Signatures ($40,000). There was a lot of great gear in this room, but it didn't come together for me — sounding a little fuzzy. Perhaps it was the least expensive component at the head of the chain.
In what might only be considered a gimmick, an audience ClairAudient LSA8 line source array comprised of eight 3-inch full range (40Hz to 22kHz) Audience designed A3 drivers with an S-shaped surround for linear excursion... (phew)... was driven by a $349 Virtue Audio model two amplifier putting out 40 Wpc about the size of a... well, just go to their website. This thing cheats like a Stealth bomber. It is jammed with high tech and designed by Roger Sheker of Audience. Pick a color, buy two, duct tape them to the back of your speakers and wire them for vertical bi-amplifying. Oh, did I mention the separate power supply? We're talking about a $349 integrated amplifier in this room driving a $21,000 pair of speakers. If you need more sound for a larger room (like really large) there is the 16 driver version LSA16 at $33,000. What we really have here is a primo amplifier for a vacation rig. The music sounded great, but the gear was enough to drive me to schizophrenia! Where's Mark Katz when I need him?!?!
I had a great time visiting with Keith Herron where I had the opportunity to A-B polarity with his remote controlled tube preamp. The reversal of polarity took on varying degrees of subtlety depending on the music itself and the polarity of the particular cut on my compilation CD. It seems to be an acquired taste that I am better off not acquiring, lest I be forced to get up and reverse the cables on my speakers time and again. The rig itself was entirely Herron, right down to the cables, save for the rim-drive VPI TNT HR-X turntable with JMW-12.7 tonearm ($12,000). M1 monoblocks ($6850 per pair.) drove the tall 2104A infinite baffle speakers that are yet to reach production. It was interesting to hear the deep and tuneful bass of this sealed loudspeaker. Keith had both his VTSP-3 tube preamp and the new SP-4 Hybrid preamp with two tubes that will be available in the 2nd quarter of this year. The room had a familiar look with all the plants in the corners and the sound was very listenable.
For $41,700 you can buy a pair of Consensus
Audio's Conspiracy loudspeakers from
loudspeakers have been re-invented as Brodman,
another piano manufacturer in
In the Reference 3A
room I met Tash Goka and heard the new Episode floorstanding loudspeaker
($5500) that I saw on silent display at
I crossed over to the other side of the Alexis Park and hit the Analysis Audio room where their 66-inches tall planar-ribbon model was driven by Spectron electronics created a huge soundstage with a long slow decay. There are two taller models, going up to 84-inches if you've got the room for it. The music here was luscious, creating the sense of being in a very large space. While I usually prefer tube electronics, the Analysis Audio speakers demand a high current amplifier. The Spectron gear presented very little sacrifice, if any.
By now it was dark and I headed for the St. Tropez to
reconnoiter with my friend Art Shapiro whom I haven't seen in a few years
and meet his wife, Joan, for the first time. We decided to walk to a nearby
Indian restaurant for dinner. In a typical