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January, 2012

CES 2012 - MBL North America

Tuesday, January 31st, 2012 by Mike


[OK. It is about 4:00pm on the 2nd day. Done with 4 of 6 wings on the 29th and 30th floors of the Venetian Towers. We now popup to the 34th and 35th floors for a bit - not too many rooms up here but we will only do about half of them now (my camera’s memory cards filled up) - and then jet over to the Flamingo, get another memory card, and do the shorter hallway on the 4th floor before closing at 6:30pm]

It is hard to communicate, and almost impossible to overstate, the spectacle of the setup in this room.

This was very, very impressive visually - this is a large, large room. The IsoMike / EmmLabs room is like this, but there the Sony speakers are normal sized, and even the previous setups with the big SoundLab speakers there in years past was… well, that was close. Not quite as dynamic or relentlessly engulfing as this was however.

I included several photos of the room [should have taken one with the people and the seating] to try and convey the sense of being there. When we put this in the Gallery Photos, the full-screen photos should do a better job.

It was also impressive sonically. As an aside, I cannot remember a single room playing their system too loud at this show - including this one, one of the prime offenders in years past.

The sound was very well-balanced top to bottom, good even handed dynamics, Enjoyable… I remember thinking that a casual listener, and what I imagine to be the desires of many non-audiophiles out there - would be quite satisfied with this sound - especially for entertaining their friends, at parties etc.

The real problem, from an audiophile / avid listener / music fanatic point of view is that there is not enough subtle details / micro-dynamics etc. for there to be much transparency at all - it is just extremely hard to imagine that there is really a piano ‘out there’, or a guitar, or whatever. To determine if it is a keyboard playing or a piano. Disbelief does not get suspended.

Not sure how important any of this is to the average person [I would guess NOT], but these speakers just do not do these things that we take for granted with other high-end speakers.

But it is really fun to listen to.


The MBL 101 X-treme loudspeakers


The MBL 101 X-treme loudspeakers


The MBL 101 X-treme loudspeakers and MBL amplifiers


The MBL 101 X-treme loudspeakers and MBL amplifiers


The MBL 101 X-treme loudspeaker


The MBL 101 X-treme loudspeaker and 101E MkII speakers


The MBL 101 X-treme loudspeaker


The MBL 101E MkII loudspeaker without cover / cage


The MBL 101E MkII loudspeaker cover / cage


The MBL 101E MkII loudspeaker with cover / cage


Some unknown, potentially faux, MBL Audio component


Some unknown, potentially faux, MBL Audio component


The MBL 1621 Redbook CD transport


The MBL 1621 Redbook CD transport


The MBL 1611 DAC


The MBL 6010 D preamplifier


The MBL 6010 D preamplifier


The MBL 9011 amplifiers


The MBL 9011 amplifiers (white) and 9008 A amplifiers (black)


The MBL 9011 amplifier

CES 2012 - Nola Speakers

Tuesday, January 31st, 2012 by Mike


The Nola room is more or less the same year after year - as is their room at RMAF. Their Baby Grand Reference II speakers, Nordost Odin cabling. Audio Research equipment.

They do sound Enjoyable. They sound big and relaxed. In a sense they sound like big and relaxed Vandersteen Sevens - not having a real strong personality - i.e. they are not super transparent, of ultra high resolution, or super detailed bass.

Given their setups, the speakers must be at least somewhat forgiving - i.e. not super revealing/transparent to upstream components.

Having racks on the side of the room is somewhat problematic with respect to me photographing them if there are other people in the room because I would have to stand in front of a speaker to take the photos - severely mucking with any listener’s ability to hear one of the speakers.


The Nola Baby Grand Reference II loudspeaker


The Nola Baby Grand Reference II loudspeaker


The Nola Baby Grand Reference II loudspeaker


The Nordost Quantum Qx4 [creates strong, directed magnetic fields]


Yet another Audio Research ‘Reference 250′ monoblock amplifier

CES 2012 - Audio Research, Sonus Faber

Tuesday, January 31st, 2012 by Mike


Sonus Faber played their new statement speakers, the Aida, here driven by Audio Research equipment and an SME 30 turntable.

Compared to last year’s attempt at a pair of statement speakers this year, in my opinion, was very much more successful. These at least LOOK like Sonus Faber speakers. And they at least SOUND like Sonus Faber speakers. A marked improvement all around. All so-called reviewers who raved about the speakers last year should be laughed out of the industry, don’t ya think? I mean, the factory knew they sucked [otherwise why the radical change]. We knew it sucked. And the reviewers knew … what?

Their appearance speaks for themselves [but note all of the drivers on the rear - some of which (for example the directional driver) do resemble last year’s model].

The sound was very Sonus Faber-ish. I think these are about $120K in the states. So what do you get when you mate ‘highly colored and enjoyable sound’ [assuming you do not put Musical Fidelity amps on them, which the local dealer insists on doing at shows and which is the only truly bad sounding Sonus Faber system I think I have ever heard] and large, expensive speaker?

You get ‘BIG SOUNDING, highly colored enjoyable sound’.

In my opinion, this is exactly what a Sonus Faber fan would want when buying their statement speaker. Their previous largest speaker, one step down from this, the Stradivarius, just never had that ‘big sound’, being somewhat on the small side for a statement level speaker.


The Sonus Faber Aida speakers from the front. Big, but with what looks lke a fairly standard complement of rivers.


The SME model 30 turntable being played while I was there on an HRS ‘SXR’ equipment rack along with a heck of a lot of Audio Research gear.


The Sonus Faber Aida speaker from an angle. Not quite as wonderfully feminine as their other speakers, but at least appears to be from the same factory.


The Sonus Faber Aida speaker


The Sonus Faber Aida speaker from the rear. Yes, this is the rear, see the binding posts at the bottom?

One of those middle drivers there swivels, though not sure how a person could get to it and turn it what with the wires in front of it like that.


The Sonus Faber Aida speaker from the side.


The bottom of the Sonus Faber Aida loudspeaker. Not sire what exactly is happening here - not your standard spiked stand, apparently.


The amplifier used here is the Audio Research ‘Reference 250′ monoblock amplifier


Another view of one of the Audio Research ‘Reference 250′ monoblock amplifier


An olde Audio Research ‘Stereo Control Device’.


The Audio Research DS450M power amplifier with its top off


The Audio Research DS450M power amplifier - looking at the open chassis from above


The Audio Research ‘Reference 250′ power amplifier with its top off


The Audio Research ‘Reference 250′ power amplifier - looking at the open chassis from above


An Audio Research ‘Reference DAC’ with modern options visible on the display

CES 2012 - Rel Acoustics, Sonus Faber, Wadia

Tuesday, January 31st, 2012 by Mike


A large display of subwoofers was on display on the way into this, one of the larger rooms on floor 30.

In the main area of the room, there were two systems, one at each end. There wasn’t music playing and I spaced out photographing the equipment rack for some reason, focusing instead on the Sonus Faber Guarneri speakers [which I hadn’t seen for awhile]


The Sonus Faber Amati speakers on a Audio Research amplifier.


The Sonus Faber Guarneri speakers on Audio Research amplifiers.


The Sonus Faber Guarneri loudspeaker


The Sonus Faber Guarneri loudspeaker


The Sonus Faber Guarneri loudspeaker


A pair of large Rel subwoofers


The Rel Acoustics G-2 Sub-Bass System subwoofer

CES 2012 - Sumiko

Tuesday, January 31st, 2012 by Mike


Good that SOMEONE is making money to pay for all this…

CES 2012 - Pro-ject

Tuesday, January 31st, 2012 by Mike


Pro-ject had a modest system in their room that was not playing music. I took photos of some turntables and stuff on static display.


The Pro-ject Art 1 Limited Edition turntable


A Pro-ject turntable


A Pro-ject system - the speakers appear to be theirs as well.


The Pro-ject Media Box S and Stereo Box S


Another Pro-ject system


A Pro-ject RPM turntable


A Pro-ject turntable


A Pro-ject Essetial turntable


A Pro-ject Essetial turntable

CES 2012 - LA Audio

Monday, January 30th, 2012 by Mike


LA Audio had a bunch of their equipment on display, some of it driving the Acoustic Zen ‘Adagio’ loudspeakers.

This seems like it would have been an extremely interesting system but I have no memory of the sound here. Next year I am going to bring a score card along with me - with an space for each room where I am mark whether there was either no music, the quality of the sound, and whether I should get back and make them play music / listen some more. Doh!


The Acoustic Zen Adagio loudspeaker


Acoustic Zen’s Adagio loudspeaker


Acoustic Zen’s Adagio loudspeaker


Acoustic Zen’s Adagio loudspeaker


Acoustic Zen’s Adagio loudspeaker


LA Audio’s P-845 amplifier


LA Audio integrated amp [I think]


LA Audio’s P-845 amplifier


LA Audio’s PRE-11 preamp


LA Audio’s PRO-2 CD player


LA Audio’s A-3300 integrated amplifier


LA Audio’s P-88 monoblock amplifier


LA Audio’s P-845 II monoblock amplifier over on static display


LA Audio’s M-1 integrated amplifier also on static display

CEs 2012 - Rives Audio / Talon, VAC (Valve Amplification Company)

Monday, January 30th, 2012 by Mike


Rives Audio was showing their Talon ‘Phoenix’ speakers with VAC electronics in this room.

I really like what they are trying to do with these speakers - very high efficiency, impedance somewhat tube friend.y, passive or active crossovers - and they sound good too.

This system doesn’t ‘push’ the speakers to be their best - and although the sound is/was good [I would put it firmly in the Enjoyable camp] they might be a whole lot more with the right equipment.


Talon ‘Phoenix’ speakers with VAC amps and components


The Talon ‘Phoenix’ loudspeaker - one of the more difficult speakers to photograph


The Talon ‘Phoenix’ loudspeaker


The VAC (Valve Amplification Company) 15/30 amp


The Moomega CD player and VAC Signature Mk2 power supply


The Dr. Feickert ‘Firebird’ turntable


The Dr. Feickert ‘Firebird’ turntable from above


The Dr. Feickert ‘Firebird’ turntable close up


The Dr. Feickert ‘Firebird’ turntable from the front


This appeared to be the crossover for one of the speakers. Apparently the crossovers can be either passive or active.

I know, the angle makes it look like it was going to fall on us - but be assured, we were quite safe, it lying on the table and all . ;-)

CES 2012 - Lawrence Audio

Monday, January 30th, 2012 by Mike


Lawrence Audio makes distinctive looking loudspeakers and audio components for the home


The Lawrence Audio ‘Cello’ speaker


The Lawrence Audio ‘Cello’ speaker


The Lawrence Audio ‘Cello’ speaker with their ‘Violin’ speaker in the background


The Lawrence Audio ‘Cello’ speaker with their ‘Violin’ speaker


Lawrence Audio’s Violin loudspeaker


Lawrence Audio’s Violin loudspeaker


The Splendid CD player


The Splendid CD player


Lawrence Audio preamplifier


Lawrence Audio amplifier


Lawrence Audio amplifier from above


A Jeff Rowland amplifier was here too

CES 2012 - MC music culture technology

Monday, January 30th, 2012 by Mike


MC music culture technology makes audio s[speakers and gear.


The system in this room


The MC 811 amplifier


The MC 811 reference amplifier


The MC 331 loudspeaker


The MC 331 loudspeaker


The rack featured some Audio Research equipment and the Music Culture MC-601 preamplifier


There was also a second, smaller system in this room


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