Venetian:   2 A B    29 A1 A2 B1 B2 C1 C2 C3   30 A1 A2 B1 B2 C1 C2   34  35  

  Alexis Park A B   St. Tropez A B C



Alexis Park
(Part A)

CES 2008
T.H.E. Show
Las Vegas

January 2008

* Denotes a product carried by Audio Federation

Copyright Audio Federation, Inc.. All rights reserved.
All pictures in this report are freely copyable and distributable
if attribution is given but may not be included in multi-room show reports without written permission.





Previously, on this high-end audio pilgrimage also known as the CES 2008 Show Report, it is Wednesday late, late afternoon, the third day of this four day show. and we had finished the 'B' Wing on floor 30. We have only the two 'C' Wings left to do, one of floor 28 and one on floor 30.

It is around 4:30 pm, the camera is out of memory cards and I am hungry. So the plan is to walk back to the Alexis Park, drink some water, eat some lunch, and take photos of the Alexis Park, including our rooms.

Photographing our rooms always takes conscious effort - I can see them whenever I want, I have already spent a lot of time [relatively] in them, so the curiosity and passion that drives me to photograph everyone else's just does not apply in this case. So I fall back to the 'desire to share what is happening' with people who cannot attend - which is what drives the actual creation of the show report itself - and it is all good.

I am someone who carefully manages my motivations - otherwise I would just hang out and BS.

Unexpectedly, the Alexis Park photos expanded into two full webpages - there was more here than I thought. As for sound - it was a mixed bag, like the Venetian actually, and we will usually just comment on things that stood out in some way or another.

Bet you didn't know that the top of the Alexis Park Building 21 is a landing strip.

This is what the Alexis Park is all about. Green. Fresh air [such as it is]. Sunshine [ditto.]



This is where the music vendors setup their booths. More at the end of the Alexis Park section of the report.





Impressive Sweet   Enjoyable Emotional Sophisticated   Natural Workhorse Real/Truth  Magical/Spiritual
This system sound appeared to meet the goals of this style of system.
This is the configuration of our room on the first day [actually, Sunday afternoon, as it looks like the amp on the right is not on, and we are waiting for a tube to arrive to replace one that did not make it over from the U.K.].

Everything, except the speakers, is on HRS Nimbus Couplers coupling them to an M3 Isolation Base, and some of the bases are on the new SXR equipment rack.

We are using Elrod power cords and an Acrolink 7N-DA6100 power cord [on the DAC5, it just sounded significantly better there than on the transport, which was the other place we tried it], with stock power cords on the turntable power supplies.

The speakers, new high-efficiency hemp drivers with the new ALNICO tweeters, the first of their design ever, were not broken in, Saturday night was the first time we had applied power to them [and then only one at a time as we swapped the working tube from amp to amp]. The KEGON Balanced were also not broken in, as I understand it.

And yes, those speakers are not exactly the same distance from the walls - why bother with spending too much time on setup when you can only hear the left OR the right channel? Right?

In this photo, we are still waiting for the M9 Phono two-box preamplifier to arrive, so we are using the little Audio Note M1 linestage. That little M1 did great! No, it had nowhere near the magic of the M9 - but we listened to the [one channel :-)] system for almost two days - and it was melodic and tuneful and we really enjoyed playing our test discs and discs we play all the time at home and are very familiar with.

The key is, I think, that the Kegon Balanced are extremely good amplifiers - with both extreme control and extreme musicality. The new speakers are very efficient and the new tweeter is much better than the previous generation - anyway it just allows one to hear what the amp is doing. As far as I could tell, and we did play ALL of our CDs here, is that the amp scored a 10 in all the ways I know of to exercise an amp. And then some.

Particularly, it excelled in control of the note development and decay, and in shades of harmonics [does it do the same thing the Lamm ML3 did, where it controls the harmonics with an iron grip? I hope to be able to answer that question - hoping that the moments were so seared into my ears in the Lamm room with that particular Johnny Hartman song that I will be able to do a mapping from there to here].

More about the amp [and speakers] when we get it here and exercise it in a controlled environment. [i.e. check the blog].

We were happy with the sound here. Very much so. However, the depth of the soundstage was not what we have come to expect from AN, which creates a very deep and accurate portrayal of what was recorded. My thoughts are that this is because the speakers were very un-broken-in, and the hemp drivers are very stiff drivers until they are broken in, so much so that some nano details were not coming through that go into communicating this information to the listener. 

We also did not work hard enough on the positioning of the speakers - if just to see if we could get an even better sound for, uh, no money and little effort. I wanted us to try to move them back a few inches. Neli wonders about moving them forward a couple of inches. Peter wondered about putting them up against the left and right walls. All good ideas - but our room was actually almost always busy - and we just didn't find time. Next year, when we bring these speakers, they will be broken in and we will know a lot more about their particular characteristics and setup [and some of the other issues that occupied our playing-with-the-speaker positions time will also be handled upfront - because 60-70% of the system will not be hot off the U.K. presses.... right everybody? Everybody????].

Our room, the more uptown of the two Audio Note rooms, was not like our usual room at RMAF. Peter Qvortrup, founder of Audio Note, has a lot of friends and business associates who come to visit. He will also just sit down and talk to dorky people like Neli and I [well, like me, anyway]. So there would be lots of times when no music was playing, Neli was talking to someone with questions and I would be gone doing the show report or in the room uploading photos. So there would be quiet times, talking about what have you.

Then it would be 110dB. Unusually, someone would request this or that, and then this, that and the Other Thing would be played. I think next year we need to have a sign that says, "Want to hear something? Ask!" because some people just did not want to interrupt and Neli was busy and so they did not get to hear the system.

It was great to hear Peter's selection of music. I heard some of the most emotional, poignant music I have ever heard - some of it very noisy, it was so old. I also got to enjoy a lot of Tool and Dream Theater. And as far as Acid Bath goes... well, I hardly ever listen to lyrics anyway - my brain does not process verbal streams well, to start with, so it was all good. 


This is Friday night... a riot of boxes and crates.
A little further along. Neli is still leveling the rack. There are some thing you just don't get in the way of, and one is Neli and the leveling of things. Yeah, it is nice for things to be level - but I personally consider myself way to lazy to spend much time doing it.
This is the third day of the show. We spread out the turntable motors away from the step-up transformer, swapped the transport and M9 Phono preamp's power supply, all to see if we could reduce the noise floor a little bit more.
Audio Note TT3 turntable and M9 preamp and power supply on a Harmonic Resolution systems (HRS) SXR equipment rack. We ordered this rack with 3 shevles - but we will be expanding it to at least a double wide, 3 by 3, when we can find the space here at Audio Federation to put it.
The turntable controller box and the three power supplies for the three motors.
New Audio Note AN/E SEC Signature speakers in Madrone finish with high-efficiency driver and new ALNICO tweeter.
New KEGON Balanced monoblock amplifier. Very simple 300B amplifier circuit, three directly heated triodes, all transformer coupled. Neli says, before you ask, you should know this: it uses a VT-25 in the gain stage and 5U4G rectifier.
Beautiful circuitry. That is a Elrod power cord in the back there and the amp sites on a HRS M3 Isolation Base.
M9 Phono preamplifier and power supply
The Audio Note DAC5 Signature DAC.
CDT Three transport. Our transport. And it is dusty, Neli. If I was rich, I'd hire someone to go around to all the rooms right before I get to them and dust off everything. Of course, the relations between the sexes being what they are these days, this person would have to be male. Heck, might as well have them take the photos too. :-)
A sample ALNICO tweeter, about 5 to 10 lbs.. heavy enough to be surprising when you try and pick it up.




Impressive Sweet   Enjoyable Emotional Sophisticated   Natural Workhorse Real/Truth  Magical/Spiritual
This system sound appeared to meet the goals of this style of system.
I really didn't spend much time in this room. After all, this is the ... fourth?... time we have taken this system to a show, more or less, and it is sitting in one of our listening rooms here the rest of the time. At its price point it delivers an Enjoyable experience, similar to that of the [relatively] budget priced Von Schweikert + Audio Space and EPOS + Creek rooms at the show this year. But different of course. I would say that the Audio Note is better performing: more real sounding, better transparency and separation, etc. than the perhaps more Impressive VR system or the perhaps more Enjoyable EPOS system.
AN/E SPe HE speakers in apple.
DAC 0.1x with USB input for laptops.
The Oto Phono SE integrated amplifier.
CD 2.1x/II CD player
Audio Note TT2 with Arm Three and IO1 cartridge.





The speakers look like beefy clones of an older style of Sonus Faber speakers.
This system was in the 'bedroom' of the suite.
OK. This certificate must be required at shows in China? But it is in English. Anyway, 'fascinating' as Spock would say.




Reference 3A speakers, Antique Sound Lab amps, EMM Labs* digital.
I got more photos of these amps. There appear to be six of them in the room... They all appear to look more or less the same in the photos.
EMM Labs* CDSA CD / SACD CD player





My digital camera's shutter release (Canon 20D) is kind of noisy, and every show it seems someone actually objects to its sound [and flash] as being distracting. And it is distracting - no doubt about it, and it is a testament to the tolerance and friendly environment of these shows that only one person objected at RMAF out of about 160 rooms, and only one here, a reviewer that was in this room, out of 200 rooms.

I do try to get done with my business quickly, and apologize to the room if they are trying to enjoy a quiet interlude of some piece of music [or more often, just wait until the quiet interlude is over]. But, in fact, all of us photographing bumble bees flitting about are annoying.






After getting a little unnerved by the kind of rude objections of the reviewer in the previous room to my camera - it was nice that the very next room, also an April Music room, was hosted by a woman with a welcome and a smile.
Yeah, fingerprints. Tell us about it. But hopefully you can all see that this player is pretty darn cool looking - strictly from an audiophile point of view, of course.





Proprietary. Yeah, you and everybody else. For some reason, going up against Apple, Amazon and Microsoft in the consumer arena just doesn't appeal to me as a great business model. BWTFDIK.
Let's see. This power conductor looks familiar... could it be.... The World Power 'Power Wing'? I can never remember the name but I can always remember the name of the website well enough for Google to find it at :-). [See, for those of you below 30, after a few more years, you have a more difficult time remembering things, and it is a pain, and then, finally, you just learn to go with the flow and work with what you CAN remember. OK. Where was I?]

Oh. I could have just looked at the photo of the sign on the door. OK. You people under 30? Along with age comes stupidity. Well, looking at myself as the example I am most familiar with, it certainly does.

Red Dragon digital amps
Looks like an equalizer - with a rather interesting user interface.
The famous Audiodharma Cable Cooker - the only competitor I know of to the Nordost* cable cookers, which are no longer for sale to the public.
A closer close-up of the AudioDharma cable cooker 2.5 burn-in device.





This is always a fun room, with a company willing to try new designs.
This cone is the volume control, and you turn it left and right to change the volume.






Copyright Audio Federation, Inc.. All rights reserved.
All pictures in this report are freely copyable and distributable
if attribution is given but may not be included in multi-room show reports without written permission.

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