International CES 2009
& THE Show Report
Continuing from Part 2 and am now on the 31st floor of the Venetian Towers...
The song "Lady in Red" comes to mind when I recall the
little AUX system from
I thought Acoustic Energy's Radiance 3 loudspeaker was one of the most sanely priced loudspeakers at the show. At $3000, it was hard to quibble with its fine sound. The silver metal surrounds on the drivers give it more of a lifestyle look than I personally care for, but I'm a full generation ahead of its target audience, so what do I know? If you can't use a floorstander there was a beautiful two-way monitor with the same tweeter and mid-woofer for $1200 that should also be an excellent value. Grille cloth for both models attaches with little magnets, keeping the façade very clean looking. For home theater AE showed a powered subwoofer in a clean black finish, along with powered small monitors at $600 each, making for a tidy $4000 surround system. Remember those small Class D Blueblade amplifier modules I mentioned in Part 2? I don't know if they are used here, but the concept is identical. Also on display was their new AE USB DAC for $1500. With a USB input only, this DAC is compatible with Mac, Windows and Linux. The line out is through balanced Neutrik jacks and there is also a headphone output with two settings. A special circuit isolates the ground of your computer from the ground of your audio system and the heavy cabined is treated with vibration damping material to keep the music clean.
Bladelius Design Group
is a Swedish company founded by a guy who used to work for Classé. I
owe them an apology for neglecting to take a photo of their fine Scandinavian
designs. I took video notes of their Thor Mk II integrated amplifier with 165
watts per channel in
My video notes failed me in The Beatles Room because I was so blown away by a playback of an unreleased Beatles song, complete with studio chatter, given to the presenter here. The video was obscure because of the darkness, but l later realized the loudspeaker was a rarely seen Manger 109 AG monitor. The Manger driver is a unique nearly full-range design that extends out to 35 kHz. The monitor is $12.5k in wood or $15k in piano black as shown here. They were placed on Boston Audio Design TuneBlocks which appear light grey with the photo flash. The Manger was being driven by the Delta Sigma North Pole Series integrated amplifier which is said to be flat to 3 MHz and sells for $27000. It is rated at 150 wpc, but claims 2000 watts on peaks, Class AB. The source was an equally expensive Bow Technologies CD player. Sometimes the music just transports you and in this case it took me all the way back to the Sixties. This was one of the golden moments of the show for me.
Another really cool room at CES was the J-corder room filled with colorful rehabbed and rebuilt Technics reel to reel tape recorders playing through a vintage pair of Epicure towers seen here to the left. They specialize in Technics decks because of the original build quality and the anodized color options offered by their metal construction. A particular stunning machine was a black beauty, a $25000 remake of a Master Pro deck with gold plated hubs that will take two or four inch masters. They said they would consider rebuilding decks of other manufacture so if you have something worthwhile, give them a shout.
The K & Q Sound Genesis room was very interesting with its open baffle loudspeaker constructed of solid cherry with a separate outboard crossover also housed in cherry. It was driven by their own tube amplifier with a 300B tube driving another 300B to produce 7 watts per channel which tells us the loudspeaker is very efficient. From behind, the tweeter looked to be a small horn driver. Shown here is Mr. Quoc Nguyenngoc whom I had the pleasure of meeting. Quoc has a PhD from MIT and has been in the speaker and system building business for thirty years. The speakers are $7800/pr. and the amplifier is $6800. The sound here was very respectable and again challenged my antiquated opinion of open baffle designs.
brought samples of all their turntables to CES, but the one you want to hear
about is their most affordable T-20 model, selling for $3080 without tonearm.
The company is based in Hong Kong but the tables are manufactured in mainland