Audiophile's Guide to the Galaxy
The Catalog of the Known High-End Audio Universe

Collected & Compiled by
Audio Federation
The Best and Nothing but the Best
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Audio Federation
Sights & Sounds
Copyright 2004 Audio Federation, Inc.

The 2004 CES and T.H.E. Show Reports

High-end Home Audio Conferences
Las Vegas, Nevada
January 2004

 

This is a highly opinionated review - this is what we heard, at a show, in a hotel room, from a hastily set up system.

This show report emphasizes the rooms that either sounded the best or exhibited very high-end equipment, the tip-top state-of-the-art. If we had time, we would have loved to visit each and every room and spend the time to play our test CDs and chat with the exhibitors. But because time is so limited compared to the large number of exhibits, we decided to sample the icing (yum!) and leave the cake for another time. This approach is fraught with the peril of missing something significant -- not being exhibitors (who usually just want to go home after the 4 grueling days), we wish that CES lasted long enough for us to hear every room.

We are dealers for Acapella Audio Arts, Accustic Arts, Acoustic Dreams, Audio Aero, Audio Note U.K., Edge Electronics, HRS (Harmonic Resolution Systems), Lamm Industries, Loricraft, Lyra, Magic Design Blue, Marten Design, Nordost, RixRax, Shunyata Research, Sound Lab, and Walker Audio.. We do try to be as honest (and some may say ruthless) as always regards our reporting the sound of these lines at the conferences, whether they sounded fantastic or completely sucked, but we must necessarily hold back (some :-) on our exuberance, or perhaps even disappointment, in the name of good taste, when referring to these lines or their direct competitors.

Introduction

Neli and I are attending the C.E.S. 2004 high-end audio show at the Alexis Park hotel as well as T.H.E. Show (at two hotels this year) at the St. Tropez hotel (next door to the Alexis Park) and at the San Remo hotel; all in Las Vegas very close to 'the strip'. We don't gamble (much) but it is a lot of fun to ogle the sights.

We are staying in the MGM Grand hotel like last year - reportedly the largest hotel in the world (and we believe it). The walk from our 21st floor room to the San Remo is about 10 minutes, to the Alexis Park 20 minutes. Not too bad, but we were planning on staying at the Alexis Park this year - but did not make our reservations in a 'timely manner'. Oh well, walking is supposed to be good for a person. On the other hand, walking along busy streets can have a negative impact on one's nerves, especially the way people drive in Las Vegas.

As usual, we try to come with a plan as to how we are going to 'attack' the show. Many rooms continue to tweak and improve their performance each day of the show, sounding their best on the very last day. Certainly if one goes to a room the first day and the sound is excellent, then one's visit was worth one's investment of time (and, oh yes, there is not enough time to visit all of the rooms, never mind the subset of rooms that one really would like to hear, and so time is one's most important resource at a show, that and a good pair of comfortable shoes). But, in all honesty, we never really follow our plans anyway - shows are kind of intense and befuddling and we end up just doing what we think is the most important thing to do next, and hope that we get to everything that we need to do. Never works, but oh well...

There is still the idea, however, of getting to the rooms with the 'surprise hits', those rooms that are unexpected (to us anyway) 'standouts'. We find that CES has more surprise hits than the Stereophile Show, and overall, has better sound as well. Because of the large number of rooms, word of mouth is a very important factor in finding those surprise hits. For this we also rely heavily on the daily posts on Audiogon, Audio Asylum and EnjoyTheMusic.com).

 

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