Full Report
CES HIGH-END AUDIO

VENETIAN TOWER PART 1
January 8th-11th, 2007

 

* product carried by Audio Federation

Copyright Audio Federation, Inc.. All rights reserved.
All pictures in this report are freely copyable and distributable.

 

 

 

 
This is what you see when you walk in to the Venetian. The dome overhead, which my meager 16mm lens could not take in, is done in the style of the Sistine Chapel. Check-in is over on the right, out of sight in this photo.

There were no signs indicating 'This Way to High-End Audio Exhibits', so I asked the nice women at the Concierge Desk. She didn't know either, but indicated that IF there were a show going on, THEN it would be at the Sands-Expo on the other side of the casino. Which was true, inasmuch as half of the High Performance Audio show was indeed at the Sands-Expo. But the access to the exhibits in the hotel rooms in the tower was off to the side in the middle of the casino - which it took awhile to find.

 

 

 

 
Here we are looking towards the casino from the lobby. Those tiiiiiny little lights at the end of the hall are the automated ways to lose money.

 

 

 

 
Not sure what this board is for. I wanted to head to Lamm's room first, to see the new ML3, and they weren't on here. Some things on here look like the times of presentations, others look like just the hours their exhibits are open. Anyway, on my search for the Lamm room this was no help, and some what discouraging.

 

 

 

 
These big orange signs make one feel like one has arrived, but it turns out to be more confusing than that. There are two large halls running in parallel, one of which goes from the casino to the Sands-Expo, the other of which connects to a number of named passageways, like the Veronese and Titan. There was not a spec of literature in the halls, i.e. a map or directory.

 

 

 
Registration was prepared for massive crowds, huh? The only maps I was able to find [actually quite excellent, in fact, and readable by me without my granny glasses] was way over on the left here. I had to come back here to this room once more to pick up another map on a subsequent visit - it is like the Venetian clean-up crew removed all traces of the conferences from the area on a continuing basis - like the Jetson's vacuum cleaner.

By referencing the map, and discovering the signs on the ceiling that pointed to various things, like the Venetian Tower Rooms, I was able to make some headway.

What they did is divide up the High Performance Audio show at CES into two, wildly separate locations and environments. One, down here, was three floors of somewhat disparately located rooms in semi-permanent structures. The other, in the Towers, were in hotel rooms with solid walls, but with furniture that could not be moved [unless you want to be charged $10K to your credit card, to have $9700 returned in the furniture was returned to its original location scratch free]. Some of this furniture was right in front of the left or right channel.

By this time my schedule was blown, as I was supposed to spend two hours at the LVCC, two hours here, and four at THE SHOW. Now I was running an hour behind.

 

 

 

 
Here we are at the Lamm room. More pictures can be found on the first day's dailies: Lamm ML3 and room at CES 2007.

When I got here, they were running the Wilson Watt / Puppy 8 loudspeakers with the Lamm ML2.1 18 watt SET amplifier [the ones in front]. From casual listening it sounded good, dynamics, and tonally pure and rich - something that is very difficult to get from the Wilson speakers. I did not listen intently enough to talk about the lowest frequencies - and it was not played loud enough to be able to answer the question about how far the ML2.1 can drive the speakers. At this volume, it was lovely.

 

 

 

 
The new $126 ML3 Signature amplifiers were on static display. They are a four box amplifier. More details at Lamm ML3 Announcement. Only one amplifier was working and they did not play it until the last few hours of the show [which Neli got to hear! More later].

 

 

 

 
The Lamm ML3 Signature from above.

 

 

 

 
The front of the power supply box.

 

 

 

 
The ML3 main box. When Neli asked Vladimir, the designer, in what circumstances one would use the options to add various amounts of feedback using the switches there on the top right side [see dailies for a better picture], he indicated that some speaker's have crossovers that sounded better with some feedback turned on. Which speakers, and why this would be, and how does the sound change, are questions that still need answering.

Somebody needs to get these and perform some experiments and listening tests. Let's see, who do we know that we could trust to understand what they hear and report what they actually heard...?

 

 

 

 
The equipment rack. Not familiar with the Critical Mass vibration control. They seem to take the same approach as HRS with removable re-deployable platforms for shelves, but their rack is not mass-loaded, so HRS would say it is a completely different approach :-)

 

 

 

 
Another ML3 amplifier was turned upside down and its electronics displayed for all to see, and photograph.

 

 

 

 
More photos are in the dailies, but here are some more for those who enjoy this kind of thing. Us? We have been in the EE software business for decades, but being able to 1)  recognize design as pure genius, or 2) what I consider to be impossible, like looking at code for a software program and telling whether the user experience will be enjoyable or not, is how a amp will sound by looking at its electronics.

 

 

 

 
 

 

 

 

 
The rear of the ML3 power supply. The remote is back [missing from the ML2.1].

 

 

 

 
The rear of the ML3 Signature amplifier.

 

 

 

 
More photos on the internal guts.

 

 

 

 
More photos on the internal guts.

 

 

 

 
The Anthony Gallo Acoustic room.

 

 

 

 
The Anthony Gallo Acoustic room.

 

 

 

 
Close-up of the new Anthony Gallo Acoustic speaker.

 

 

 

 
The rear of the new Anthony Gallo Acoustic speakers.

 

 

 

 
Wilson Audio Watt Puppy loudspeakers with all Esoteric front end. Somewhat uninvolving - but one has to figure that this was just an opportunity to display all the Esoteric pieces and not going for the ultimate in performance.

 

 

 

 
The electronics.

 

 

 

 
A few Esoteric pieces were on static display. The P-01

 

 

 

 
The D-01.

 

 

 

 
Teac's VRDS mechanism aka CD / SACD transport

 

 

 

 
The SA-10

 

 

 

 
The SZ-1 [best name of the bunch, if you ask me]

 

 

 

 
The UX-3SE and G-25U. Who comes up with these names?

 

 

 

 
The DV-60.

 

 

 

 
This Tascam was on display also, the DV-RA1000HD. Did Teac buy Tascam?

 

 

 

 
 

 

 

 

 
The IsoMike, Kimber Kable room with Soundlab loudspeakers and Pass Labs amps and Emm Labs digital front end.

 

Resolution    
Level of detail: 5=perfect   6.5
Micro-dynamics   5
Midi-dynamics   8
Macro-dynamics   7
Harmonic resolution   5
Harmonics    
Body / richness   5
Tonal accuracy   7
Dynamics    
Separation   5
Consistency top-to-bottom   7.5
Control   4
Authority   6.5
Imaging    
Correctness   3
Separation   5
Transparency   5
Depth   N/A
Width   9
Off axis behavior   N/A
Solidity   6
Character    
Enjoyability   7
Emotionality   6
Reality   3
Magic   7
Impressiveness   9 [not in the definition's terms of bass slam or midrange detail, but in terms of SCALE]
Sophistication   6
Comments    
This room was smaller than the similar setup at RMAF, and so the room was able to be filled with sound. Instruments still were in strange places and center fill almost non-existent. The ethereal nature made one's head do more magically weird things. If nothing else, the IsoMike rooms make one think about how we reproduce sound and that perhaps there are other ways to accomplish this.
Legend    
N/A means Not paying Attention [I wasn't paying attention to this]

For most scoring, 9 = best we ever heard. On Level of Detail, less than 5 implies a rounded note presentation, greater than 5 implies a distinct note presentation.

These impressions are just impressions, and apply to the whole system in combination to the room. Please do not misconstrue it as something else, especially you speaker manufacturers.

Impressive - Exaggerated bass and/or detail and/or dynamics
Sophisticated - Detailed and with finesse
Enjoyable - Nice to listen to, pleasant
Sweet - Exaggerated harmonics and/or warmth
Emotional - Music often pulls at heart strings
Real/Truth - Transparent, accurate
Magical/Spiritual - Precipitates psychological effects other than what might be expected


 

 

 

 

 
The Pass Labs doing the duties for the rear channels. Looks like different 4-wheel dollies are being used this year for the amplifier stands. These are black and have fold up handles so one just needs to left up the handle and wheel them away. How conveeeenient. Looks like these will not just fall apart after 100 tours of duty to and from the truck like our $45 dollar one... :-)

 

 

 

 
Here we have the Emm Labs CDSD transport under the equalizer that plays the IsoMike-mastered CDs and SACDs.

 

 

 

 
One of the front speaker's X350.5 Pass Labs amps

 

 

 

 
The rear speakers.

 

 

 

 
The TAD room with Pass Labs. A system designed to be dynamic.

 

 

 

 
The story being told here, as I paraphrase it, is that there is a 85dB limit to the sound in this room as mandated by the Venetian. It was unclear to me if that was just outside the hours of the show or all the time. And whether because on this floor there were a lot of ordinary people staying and not a lot of exhibition rooms. Anyway, the Venetians came in with their professional demeanor and pronounced that they were playing too loud in this room. The TAD folks said that OK, they will check with their own SPL measuring device and see if they were over or not. The Venetians responded with questions about the accreditation and quality of this new device. So out comes the $2K chunk of electronics that TAD had brought along to measure SPLs amongst some presumably other more interesting attributes. It turns out that the Venetians were using the Radio Shack SPL meter that we all seem to have stuffed in a drawer somewhere.

In the end, they were indeed over 85 dB, the Radio Shack was wrong - but not THAT wrong.

[I am a lousy story teller, even when someone else comes up with the story. I think I'll stick to show reports...]

 

 

 

 
 

 

 

 

 
Up on the 34th and 35th floors, there are very few rooms.

 

 

 

 
Bolzano Villetri. This room was very dark, and the other room was full of people and no music, so no pictures.

 

 

 

 
Sophia Electric. They build tube amps and sell 300B tubes to Mike and Neli.

 

 

 

 
Avantgarde Acoustic. Can you say l-o-u-d?

 

 

 

 
See that cabinet over on the right? Most of the rooms up here had that there [or they paid $300 to be able to move it]. It can't be doing anyone any good.

 

 

 

 
Capativa Tech / Legenburg. We did a massive photo montage of their cables at the Stereophile Show report for the show in L.A. in 2006.

 

 

 

 
Their display this year.

 

 

 

 

 

* product carried by Audio Federation

Copyright Audio Federation, Inc.. All rights reserved.
All pictures in this report are freely copyable and distributable.

 

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