Critique of the Absolute Sound's CES 2006 Show Report

We got our TAS a few weeks ago and in it they had 30 pages dedicated to their CES 2006 show report.

Nice show report. So happy to see they put out such a wealth of impressions from CES. It was a complete lack of any such information that caused us to start our show reports way back when.

But, well, now we are addicted to shows so we aren’t going back to the sidelines, sorry – but it is good that a print mag is putting out more than just excerpts from show brochures for a change.

OK, idea for another BLOG post: “Varieties of hi-fi audio addictions – Feeding and care of”.

Jonathan Valin’s section in the TAS show report had some surprising simularities to our impressions, and more interestingly, some variances.

Room-by-room then:

Nola / Plinius
We didn’t take much notice of this room

VR-9 / darTZeel
Agree that they sounded better at the Denver show. Don’t thnik ‘syrupy’ is the right word here, at all. Actually do not agree with any of the description here.

Calix
I thought the driver integration and localization problems he noticed were minor flaws in an overall natural, big, pure sound which was a little relaxing after some of the hifi-ish sound in the other rooms.

Wisdom Audio / Edge
Agree with the reticence. Disagree with the implication that the Edge was at fault.

TAD
Agree that it was not quite (duh!) as abrasive as their HE 2005 room. The rest is to say he doesn’t like this sound either, though he blames the speakers by showering compliments on the Pass Labs amps whereas I womder if the blame should really be shared between the two.

AAA Audio
Not sure which room this is

Lumen White / Ayon
Closed in and dark? A little, I guess. I heard a little timbre anomolie which really grabbed my attention and wouldn’t let go, unfortunately.

Harbeth
Didn’t spend too much time in here

Hansen
Not much time in here either

Immedia
These were not playing any music when I was there

Ridley
Not sure which room this was

Fanfare International
Not sure which room this was, either

Zanden / Peak Consult
Agree with what he said, even with the ‘slightly-more-hooded’ sound of the Peak Consult in comparison with the Kharma – though I would say ‘lots’ instead of ‘slightly’.

Marten Design / EAR
Dark and bright at the same time? Say what? I guess this could mean the treble was a little forward and the midrange a little recessed? If so then I could see the EAR being described this way… I guess. The minor amount of these frequency bumps in that room I usually discount as part of the room (or the number of people in the room at the time of the listening session), …………unless he is talking about the first day… πŸ™‚

Acoustic Precision (Venture / L:amm)
Spacious and detailed? I guess, but overwehelmed by a significant reticence and darkness that was obscuring the spaciousness and detail, IMHO.

Talon / Joule Electra
Peak in the midbass and glare in the upper mids? Yeah, and mostly the general lack of signs of life.

Nola Pegasus / ASR
Disagrees with HP and describes the overly-polite dynamic nature of the ASR. Exactly!

Burmester room
Say what? He likes this room and we just heard the deadness and lack of bloom and timbre that seemed a little off.

Coincident / Manley
All he says is that they were “coherent at loud levels”. Perhaps, but what about other attributes and at other listening levels. What a nice way to diss a room while being nice about it. We bow to the master (Neli says I should stop using words like ‘terrible’, so I am taking notes here :-). The problem here was that there was a lack of life (lack of micro-dynamics,real world richness of tone, subtle shades of timbre being lost, etc.)

Eben / Rado
Not sure we heard this room

Sound Lab / EMM Labs / Parasound
“Gorgeous sounding? Best fullrange stat at CES?” Well, there were only two stats there that I remember, so I agree with this. But this dry sound with very little tone does NOT represent the way the Meitner or Sound Lab sound. Either 1) people are looking for something VERY different than we are when it comes to the sonics of electrostatic speakers or 2) people have never heard the way the Sound Labs can REALLY sound, like they do here with top notch amplification.

Artemis Labs
Too busy chatting to listen in this room. Mea Culpa.

Magico / Edge / CAT
He loved this room and I thought it was muddy and disorganized sounding. Timbre was the slightest bit off and the dynamics somewhat unbalanced and compressed. Hopefully people don’t just attribute great sound to a room just because the speakers do so well for their size (although the tempation is there and we feel its pull as well). I cannot understand why some reviewers are liking this room so much (most people at the show seem to like the other Magico room better, but even that I found… not bad but kind of so-so).

ARC / Wilson
Agree that this room pulled off a great sound with what we would consider… somewhat colorless… electronics and a difficult speaker.

Ascendo
Agree that the tonal color was good and everything else that was said about the room. So nice to hear them sound so much better after their terrible showing at HE 2005 (Oops, still using that T word, ain’t I?)

Avalon / Hovland
He isn’t a fan of the Eidolon Diamonds (but we are!) but he liked this room (but I didn’t). I thought the Hovland Radia had more life than these new Stratos amplifiers – which sounded dark and reticent to me at CES.

Peak Consult / WAVAC / Continuum
Ha! He was also dissapointed with the turntable / system in this room .So were we – or rather, it is a fine turntable, but not unlike many other fine turntables out there.

Magico / Rowland
Agree on the lack of life in this room.

Dali Megalines / McIntosh
He didn’t like the room much – and my impressions were that it was warm and muddy, enjoyable for people in recovery from a overly bright system, perhaps.

Ayre / JBL
Didn’t hear this room

Avantgarde Acoustic
Maybe he is comparing these to all other very, very efficient horn designs and so he likes them using that scorecard? Otherwise…impressive yes. Emotional? Enjoyable? Real? Natural? Not to these ears.

VR7
I think we missed this room

Genesis
He says “Too much tweet and woof”. Good description.

GTT Audio
He liked it. So did we.

MBL
He says it is “wow”. We agree. “That the midrange is realistic”. To our ears they take away some of the leading edges of the notes and reshape the note envelope in a kind of interesting way – along with an almost complete lack of micro-dynamics, That the “treble is without parallel”. We actually find it to not be very realistic either. He gives this the best of show. But without specifying what it is best at, one cannot tell if he thinks it is just doing ‘impressive’ better than all the other speakers are ‘doing impressive’, or better than all other speakers at doing their job in pursuit of their particular ‘purpose’, whether that be real, enjoyability, emotionality, naturalness or whatever. Or, and this can’t be it, that it is the best at doing EVERYTHING compared to all the other systems at the show.

Most likely it is, like our old Best Of Show, the system they would most like to have in their posession. And in this case it is also the system most like the system in his possession. πŸ™‚ [JV has an MBL-based system these days].

Well, that’s it. Hope it was fun for everyone. If not, well, hope we will do better next time.

‘Til then, then.