JV’s CES 2016 Show Report

This is our traditional report about JV’s CES 2016 Show Report.

We only do these reviews of what JV said because he is one of the few reviewers who has ears and can actually report what his ears hear.

Not that he always does this.

For example, this year his report seemed near random.

Yep, the MartinLogan Neoliths are light years beyond their other speakers, and are competitive in a general sense. But, like all panels, the sound is a little prettier than real life, a little hifi sounding. Not that there is anything wrong with that. It’s just that JV typically does like this kind of sound.

It was nice that he liked the big Lamm / Kharma room. Wonder what day he heard them; the speakers were changing radically day to day, if not hour to hour. That first day… ūüôā

But what is this about nearly every room not having ‘realistic sound’?

The biggest difference between reproduced sound and real sound is primarily in the area of non-percussive dynamics. So he should favor horns and high-efficiency speakers paired with amps that have good control over the speaker.

But no.

I think he is referring to the ‘clipped note sound’ that pure solid-state and dull tube gear has as being ‘real’ vrs the¬†‘extended decay sound’ that better tube gear has (reality being somewhere in-between).

And what is this about ‘dark sound’? So many rooms having a dark sound?

Exhibitors have done us all a favor and often use accessories that help tame a system from being too bright: some cables, all power conditioners, and some kinds of racks roll off the highs a little bit. Our ears at shows are over stimulated as it is and this helps us all actually hear the music. Personally, I think show reports should ignore this along with standard but typically minimal bass-overhang issues that are also common in hastily setup hotel rooms.

It is always nice to see our room reviewed by someone else [thanks JV]:

“This was not a rich sound but a very coherent and lively one.”

Hmmm…. It was not an ‘overly’ rich sound, and¬†both the Audio Note U.K. digital (CDT-5 transport and DAC 5 Signature), one of the most naturally rich¬†digital in the world, and The Beast music server, which tips up the harmonics in a very audiophile-pleasing manner, did keep¬†the harmonics colorful but under control.

Otherwise, I think ‘coherent’ [the Cellini High speakers this year even more coherent¬†than last years standard Cellini speaker – the solidity of the presentation was really fun to listen to] and ‘lively’ [dynamic and responsive] ¬†characterize the main [audiophile-esque] strengths of the system well.


So where does stuff like this

“The $15.9k Wilson Sabrina with VTL electronics was, simply put, the best Wilson loudspeaker I’ve ever heard at a trade show‚ÄĒand would‚Äôve been a Best of Show contender were it in my price category.”

which insults both 90% of Wilson’s product line that costs more [sounds better] than this speaker and the reader who knows Wilson has shown their flagship speakers numerous times at shows… come from?

I do not understand such blatant hyperbole. I know many, if not the vast majority, of reviewers frequently say stuff like this Рwhich is great. It lets us immediately rule them out as serious reviewers [not that their reviews are not still gobbled up by audiophiles starved for information].

But JV is not one of these. So…?

What is really working in the U.S. right now is selling to the ‘beats headphone’ generation and ignoring the grand-old guard of the high-end audio industry. Check out Indiegogo and Kickstarter. I expect TAS, and Stereophile, to shift their primary emphasis to this demographic. The 1%¬†can only buy so many magazines.

This was a hard show to report on, no doubt for JV as it was for us. A lot of this is just plain distressing when comparing to years past. For me, and I think many others, an overwhelming feeling of sadness hit and stayed with me. First as, starting day one, I found room after room not playing music, but instead groups of exhibitors standing around talking to other exhibitors. Then, on the second day, as I looked down a hallway on 29 (which was busier than 30) and only saw two people and for a moment thought there were no exhibitors down there, only to then see a couple dozen exhibitor signs adorning doorways. Spooky.