CES (Consumer Electronics Show)
T.H.E. Show

Las Vegas
January 5th, 2006

Track 1

The Swedish Statement - Marten Design*, Bladelius room

The EAR, Marten Design* room

The Venture, Lamm*, Metronome room

The McInstosh, Dali room

The Nola speakers, ASR electronics room

The Shanling room

The EPOS room

The DaySequerra, Avalon, Rowland room

The IsoMike, Lipinski, Pass Labs room

The MSB room

The Manley room

The Viola room

and more...

* Denotes a product carried by Audio Federation


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All pictures in this report are freely copyable and distributable.

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Alexis Park... uh... Villas is about 1/2 way through a facelift as it gets invaded by 1000s of audio geeks. No snow this year, just nice days and chilly nights. Attendance seemed about average for the first day of the show.




The front entrance to the Alexis Park. When calling for a taxi, the bell-men step to the front edge of the overhang and blow a loud whistle. The resulting backlash on the ears of those hapless souls standing near the front entrance is memorable.




Buses run from here to the main conference. It seems like it would be a lengthy trip - even though the convention center is rather close - but we have never taken the bus so do not know for sure. Hi Wes!








There is now the pale-orange iron fence around all the swimming pools. Speculations abound as to why these were put up. My guess - too many people were accidentally walking into the pools, perhaps after a beer or six?




Outside the Globe Audio Marketing room (hence the barely legible Audio Aero* sign). It was a beautiful time of year in Las Vegas.




The first room we stopped at. The Swedish Statement system - The Marten Design* Coltrane Supremes, Bladelius (Bleh-dee-lee-us) electronics, Nordic Concept turntable, Jorma Design* cabling and World Power's PowerWing power conditioning. This was the only system which did not have any flaws that I could hear... but one could wish it was in a larger room!

More about the 'true-to-life' sound in this room in the final report, but suffice it to say for now that this is the kind of sound we like- like that you would experience in the studio or at the concert.

These speakers are actually prototypes - the final version will have active bass towers (built-in amplifiers), the main towers, at 93dB sensitive, can be driven with just about any amplifier to tailor the sound to the owners taste. The bass towers will also come with digital room correction capabilities.




The Coltrane Supremes are the first loudspeaker to use the diamond midrange driver (2nd driver from the top on the left speaker in the picture. The top driver is the diamond tweeter, used in the top speakers from Avalon, Kharma, Lumenwhite, and of course, Marten Design). Given the cost of the diamond midrange ($25K a pair wholesale) there will be few if any other speakers using it in the future.








































On to the next room. Actually, there were more people than this at the Alexis Park - they just went and hid behind trees or something during these shots...




Marten Design* Miles III, EAR electronics, new EAR turntable, and a reel-to-reel tape deck owned by the distributor but heavily customized by Tim dePavarcini of EAR. As expected, the tape deck sounded good :-)

The sound in this room varied. It started off sounding kind of like it was the morning of the first day of the show (like all the other rooms - watch those ears the first day everybody!). I thought it sounded really pretty good by the end of the first day.

However, others who visited during successive days thought the sound had deteriorated some. It didn't help that Mr. dePavarcini likes to play historically relevant and energetic music that was recorded very badly - or at least with no expectation that it would ever be played over nice equipment like this - and play it very loud at that.

Let's see, who else do we know plays quality music like this at shows? :-)








The Marten Design Miles III in its new piano black finish.




The Marten Design Miles III in its new piano black finish.




The Marten Design Miles III in its new piano black finish.




The Marten Design Miles III in its new piano black finish.








Looks like both Sound Applications and World Power's Power Wing are used for power diustribution.




The new, and only I believe, EAR turntable.








The EAR 912 preamplifier




The EAR CD player




The new EAR turntable.




The new EAR turntable.












A final picture of the room as a whole.




Acoustic Precision had an attractive room: Venture speakers, Lamm* ML2.1 amplification, Lamm* L2 preamplifier, Metronome digital source. This was a pleasant sounding system, though it had its limits in terms of dynamics and coherency. These are Venture's $15K speakers. They also had another room with some of their larger speakers - mostly on static display, if I remember correctly. It is good to see this fine line of attractive speakers finally making inroads into the U.S.




The beautifully crafted Venture speaker.












The rear of the Venture loudspeaker.












The Metronome Kalista CD transport. This was found in a number of room, including the Lamm room.








The Metronome C2-A Signature Tube DAC




Looks like the power supplies for the Metronome gear.












McIntosh amplifiers and Dali Megaline loudspeakers. Damn those amps look awesome - reminds me of the Krell (no pun intended) power supply equipment in the Fantastic Planet movie. The sound was typical McIntosh - an enjoyable sound front with little relation to reality.




The line of McIntosh speakers.








Nola speakers, ASR electronics, Nordost* cables. The ASR mates very well with these speakers. A little more even handed than the usual CAT tube amps that Nola uses at CES, with a bit more clarity and 'jump' (even though the ASR is one of the more laid back solidstate amps out there).




























Just pictures of the nice carpentry work done on the Nola Pegasus Reference loudspakers.




This room just had static displays of the Acoustic Signature line of turntables and photo stages.




















Shanling electronics and Music Hall turntable, Whest phonostage. Not sure what speakers these are... Spendor?




Music Hall turntables: MMF-7 $1199, MMF-5 $620, and not sure what is on the end there.








No price has been set for these to-be-released Shanling amplifier and CD player.








New Shanling CD player and amplifier




The Creek room




The Audes room




The Angstrom room




















Sound Lab* speakers, Parasound JC-1 amplifiers, CTC Blowtorch preamplifier, EMM Labs* / Meitner DAC, Tascam DSD tape source.

Never a fan of the Parasound JC-1 or the CTC Blowtorch, this room struck me as very dry and harmonic-free. Sound Lab keeps updating their speakers and this is a new speaker in their line, introduced at the show.








The Tascam DV-RA1000 DSD player.




The CTC Blowtorch, designed and built by the same folks who designed the Parasound JC-1




The EMM Labs / Meitner* DCC2 DAC




The power supply for the CTC.




The EPOS room




A display of EPOS speakers




The Creek room




The Cary Room




The Cary Room








IBI Co., LTD. I thought the sound in this room showed some speaker box resonances in these speakers.









Avalon speakers, Rowland amplifiers, Cardas cables, EMM Labs digital front end and DaySequerra digital tuner. The sound here was actually not too bad - not very emotional, but not digital and for all the digital and solidstate in the room one could expect a lot worse (though the Cardas will also help filter that stuff out, along with a lot of other stuff...). Not a big fan of the Rowland, either, in terms of its transparency or truth or emotive capabilities - but they drove the wonderful Eidolon (Opus) well-enough.

The way this room worked, as I understand it, was the Meitner CDSD was playing CDs, and the signal went down a cable to the other room in the suite, which was then run into a transmitter, and transmitted the music in high-definition over the air... which the tuner then picked up and forwarded to the Meitner DCC2 DAC / preamplifier to the Rowland and out the speakers.

Neli disagrees with this description a little and says the transmitter broadcast the music in HD over a cable back to the tuner - which makes sense... getting permission to setup a micro broadcasting station with the FCC might be a little intense for just a 4 day conference...but it is not what I think they said was happening.

Our local Jazz station, Denver's KUVO, is broadcasting HD.... on the same frequency as the standard FM signal.... and is apparently one of the stations working closely with DaySequerra.




The DaySequerra tuner, the EMMlabs / Meitner CDSD transport and DCC2 DAC.




Cardas cabling, Jeff Rowland amplification




Poster for tuner





Close-up of DaySequerra Tuner. Sounded fine in this room - but really need to do a sit-down listening session to scope this puppy out. I like the way it will just pop into the digital chain. Having a Meitner to do the D to A duties can't hurt :-) What appears to be green fuzz in the blue screen here is actually some kind of active oscilloscope.

Cards will be available for the tuner in the future to handle things like HDTV etc. The tuner is priced around $5K without the oscilloscope display.




Rear view of the DaySequerra / Meitner setup.




IsoMike, Lipinski, Pass Labs, EMM Labs* / Meitner Design

Well, this system didn't get one of our 'worst of show' this time. The Lipinski speakers aren't nearly as forward and aggressive as the TAD speakers this system was shown with at HE2005 in NYC. That room was plain painful.

I always so much want to like the IsoMike rooms - the front-end equipment and source material is always 'to die for'. But the lack of correct timbre, micro-dynamics, rhythm, separation and an overall compression to the music just is not enjoyable to me. Yeah, it does gunshots really well... But I just want more from my system than that - even when I am playing movies with gunshots, I want the other audio content to be rendered well also.

I think if you really care primarily about soundstaging (though in this case without much solidity and coherence, just direction and distance) and macrodynamics and put everything else in a 'nice to have' category, then you will like these kind of systems.




IsoMike, Lipinski, Pass Labs, EMM Labs / Meitner Design




IsoMike, Lipinski, Pass Labs, EMM Labs / Meitner Design




IsoMike, Lipinski, Pass Labs, EMM Labs / Meitner Design. Lipinski subwoofer and speaker.




IsoMike, Lipinski, Pass Labs, EMM Labs / Meitner Design DAC8 Mk IV, Genex GX9000 - static display




IsoMike, Lipinski, Pass Labs, EMM Labs / Meitner Design - static display (obviously :-)




Opera loudspeakers / Unison research




Sinfonia amplifier




Sinfonia amplifier




Sinfonia amplifier




MSB Technologies has some new speakers. These speakers were on static display.




MSB Technologies has some new speakers. These speakers were on static display.




MSB's cool-lookin' amplifiers that are not sliver or black








MSB speakers, amplifiers and digital front end. They were chatting during the time I hung out in this room and not playing music. OH well, I would have liked to hear this system.
















This is the top-end MSN transport / DAC pair that is reputed to be a lot better than the digital in the rest of their line.
















Kronzilla DX tube amplifier (no, it does not amplify tubes)




Down below is a KR Electronics 'preamplifer model 150 remote'.




Manley, Coincident speakers, Audio Aero* Prestige CD / SACD player, VPI turntable and phono stage. I so want to hear a great system with the Coincident speakers - being really partial to high-efficiency speakers lately. Not that this system was all that bad or anything, it just didn't wow me.




Manley, Audio Aero* Prestige CD / SACD player, VPI turntable and phono stage.




Coincident speakers in the Manley room




Manley room alter




These look like the Totem speakers.




Primare from Sweden/Denmark and what looks like Sonus Faber speakers standing by.




Van den Hul turntable (contributed by Adam Mokrzycki, Senior Contributing Editor, AUDIO, Poland) a special limited edition version of the Rolf Kelch Reference II.




Jaton Corporation




Murata tweeters on the top of the Fab Audio Model 1 speakers.

I do  not remember how this room sounds - but it looks like an interesting design, don't it?








Van Den Hul b.v. room. Sorry about the lack of photo quality - if people are milling about in front of the system when I happen through, I make a mental note to try and come back later - but I often just do not get back, too many rooms.




TaCT room




The Viola room. I was hoping for great things in this room - but nope. Not too memorable actually, except I wasn't wowed by any of a number of things I listen for.

I wonder if this room suffers from the 'Burmester Syndrome', where individual pieces from a manufacturer sound pretty darn good, but put them all together in a single-manufacturer system and you get something that is less than... uh... what an individual piece can do. Not that this was as disturbing as the All Burmester System - but it seems no one can do this single-manufacturer system thing right except Audio Note (both U.K. and Kondo). Am I right?




The Viola room. I bet these speakers are heavy.




The Viola room.




The Viola stereo reference preamplifier.








The Viola 'Cadenza' preamplifier power supply.



















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All pictures in this report are freely copyable and distributable.

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