Report report: High-end Audio, JV and CES 2015

Not too much to say in our traditional response to JV’s $20K+ high-end audio show report this CES.

Agree that nothing stood out this year as being great and, although I thought that by the end of the show our room eeked out a distinct advantage, other rooms no doubt also got better by the end of the show.

We thank JV for his kind words about our (and Acapella’s) room, and he is quite right that there was “a bit of room-induced boom on standup bass” [and other kinds of bass too :-)]. This was fixed the second night after hours at the show by, surprisingly, not by pulling the speakers out an inch or two further from the front wall, but by inserting a AC power device in front of the front end, which removed the excessive bass-room interactions and made the sound more linear top to bottom as well.  This not-in-production and perhaps never will be in production box belies our experiences to this point that all power-altering boxes are evil [still think that pulling the speakers forward a little would have worked too, but I could be wrong. And Neli and Hermann were concerned that it would put the listeners that much closer to the speakers in what is already a rather tight cramped space there].

In general I think JV is being too kind to many of the rooms he writes about this year. Even our perennial favorites: Lamm  and Acoustic Zen, had their issues this year [in my opinion. Neli may disagree… but she would be wrong :-)].  For that matter, the rooms this year were such that the EMM Labs on the severely problematic Sony speakers was one of the better sounds at the show [the EMM  Labs MTRX amps making the Sony sound way better than it should], and, similarly, the rooms  with the smaller Magico S1 and S2 speakers constantly had good  sound [the speaker’s even-handedness and innate forgiveness helping otherwise merely competitive systems rise above their competition].

His report omits at least two rooms that I would like to mention and that were up there with all the other contenders he writes about:

The KONDO and Kaiser Acoustics room

Very musical and extraordinarily engaging, although they were playing, while I was here, music too simple for me to get a good handle on what the overall extent of the system’s capabilities here was.


The Orca Design, Bohmer Audio, Scaena, Silversmith room

The sound here was much more even top-to-bottom and permitted a wider sweet spot than I have experienced previously with Scaena, and along with all the positives: great dynamics and quick responsiveness, I thought this room did very well this year [I visited this room about 2 hours before closing on the last day].

I think these were the only two rooms that were overlooked that immediately came to mind in what, for TAS-constrained JV reports lately, is a wide-ranging show report.