Report

 

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

 

 

Venetian Floor 29
(Wing B Part 1)

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 the encyclopedic and cathartic Audio Federation CES 2008 Show Report, it is early morning Wednesday [about 10am to the rest of you], the third day of this four day show.

We had just finished Wing A of floor 29 late yesterday afternoon. I did the walkies back to the Alexis Park to get a bite to eat [a very late lunch], uploaded 6GB of photos to the laptop, made a few DVD hard copies, then drove Neli's car back to the Venetian for the meeting with EmmLabs - to which I was late by only about 20 minutes.

The point being that half the show was over and I still had 4 Wings at the Venetian to do, all of the Alexis Park, and most of the St. Tropez.

Today we skipped going the the LVCC, which we had been visiting every morning. The number of rooms here at the Venetian, and having only completed about a third of the rooms at the T.H.E. Show, was making me nervous about getting to everything.

Now we proceed to what we are calling Wing B [which I should have called Wing 200, since all the rooms are in the 200s, but that is water under the bridge now], and this time we are, again, heading from the elevators to the end of the hall, where, if we should be so lucky to make it, we will go UP the stairs this time to the mirror wing on floor 30.

 

 

 

 

 
 
 
Kimber Kable's room displayed shelves of their product. There are more shelves than this displayed here but there were people busy in front of them at the time I was there.

 

 

 

 
 
The Conrad-Johnson and McCormack room had static displays of many of their components. These here are a few... [We've taken photos of these before for previous show reports]
 
 

 

 

 

 

STYLE


Not Sure

 

SOUND


Not Sure

 

 
An iPod-centered system from MSB.
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
The guts of the MSB DAC. It is really interesting to look at all these different circuit boards. Some have mostly discrete components - which are large things like resisters and capacitors - as opposed to lots of little things, which are typically transistors. This circuit here has a lot of transistors and some discrete components - the mix looks to being just about par for this level of DAC.

Some circuit boards have wide traces, which are thought to transmit signals better - but they also introduce potential electromagnetic skin effects [this board appears to have all skinny traces - and I can't tell if that one discolored area is a trace, the ground layer, or just left over annotation layer.

Many, in the hand-made component world, try to have as many wires as possible, for all sorts of reasons the main one of which is lower resistance, as opposed to boards like this that are largely circuit board 'traces'. Those 2 anomalous pairs of 2 orange wires you see in the middle of the board are likely corrections to a flaw in the specifications as submitted to the fabrication company [which more or less builds the boards these days, I think, as well as stuffing it and then soldering it in a wave-soldering machine].

The big four Ladder DACs are very prominent - but I do not know enough about DAC design to know what their inclusion implies vis-a-vis audio performance.

And, lest we forget, there is often the 'other side' or 'underneath'  to these boards / components where more circuitry may be hiding from the camera.

 

 

 

 
 
Well, I had to go in and see what was in the Primedia room. Looked JUST like I expected it to.

I mean, I used to think, when I first saw these rooms at shows, that J.A. and Mike Fremer and the rest might be here resting up from their intense listening sessions up and down the hallways. You know, comparing notes, typing in reports, deciding who has best of show. But, I hardly ever see the major reviewers at shows except perhaps Jonathan Valin [TAS], and Jason Serinus [Stereophile] both of whom I see about once each show, on average.

On the other hand, I ALWAYS see Dave and Carol [except this year not Carol. From Positive Feedback], Danny Kaey [Sonic Flare], Marja and Henk if they are attending [6 Moons], and Steve [Enjoy The Music].

Oh, anyway, lots of free magazines here. Of course, if you grab a few, you have to be up for lugging them around the rest of the show. And me, I'm barely up for lugging me and my camera all over the show.

 

 

 

STYLE


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OK, I know what you are thnking. But music did come out of those boxes and it didn't sound as bad as some other systems here.
 
As it was explained to me, and if I remember correctly, this driver is a full-range driver [more or less] with the coaxial tweeter and midrange using DIFFERENT magnets.
 
 
This is either a brilliant name, or something someone thought of at the last minute because they had to out SOME kind of name on the box.
 
 
These are the Heavenly Sound (or Sound Heavenly, hard to tell from the logo) amplifiers.
 

 

 

 

STYLE


Not Sure

 

SOUND


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The only Escalante speaker system I remember seeing this year. These speakers roll of the highs fairly aggressively, which makes them perfect for people who are really, rally tired of systems with harsh treble [which, fortunately for them, is a lot of people. But over the last five years, if there is one easily recognizable trend, it is that there are fewer and fewer bright-sounding systems at high-end audio shows - however, they are still plentiful at home theater shows].
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Trying to get a show of this KR Audio thing with its top off, to little avail.
 
 
A baby Escalante speaker watching its bigger sibling  perform.
 
Apparently KR makes their own tubes. By hand? Must be like building a ship-in-a-bottle.
 
This is a BIG tube. To help you gauge its size, that is a standard-sized business card on the right there. Can't but think it is not real though. I mean, who makes a tube socket that takes big honking pins like that? Wonder how much this tube weighs... I mean, the glass would have to be pretty thick to maintain a vacuum in that amount of volume. No, I was NOT about to pick it up and see.

 

 

 

STYLE


Not Sure

 

SOUND


Not Sure

 

 
We've talked about this system many times in the past. It is somewhat more musical with the Audio Aero* digital, which they have started using the last few shows - but it has the same old problems with harmonic color and note decay. Though, if a person was do design a system to compensate for these problems, THIS is that system, with Joule electronics and the afore-mentioned digital, Cardas cable, some attempt at vibration control. Yep, this is a well-optimized system.
 
 
Joule Electra Preamp on a Walker Audio vibration damping disk.
 
 
 
Merlin speaker.
 
 
Big Joule Electra amps.

 

 

 

STYLE


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SOUND


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Musical Surroundings always has a few rooms. This one highlighting Pathos electronics on Vandersteen speakers [we had the 2ce, these are smaller, so they must be part of the 1-series].

We always root for Vandy's to sound good, but I was somewhat disappointed here. Kind of dull sounding, and lifeless.

 
 
 
This photo looks really good on a large monitor at 3500 pixels across. Here, it kind of looks like the previous photo. Go figure.
 
 
Musical Surroundings enters the fray with its own components now. Here... a photo preamp.
 
The controller for the Clearaudio turntable [33 speed, 45, etc,]
 
 
 
 
The new Helius Omega arms.
 
 
 
 
The guts of the Musical Surrounding's Phenomena II phono pre.
 

 

 

 

STYLE


Not Sure

 

SOUND


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These are supposed to be the 'new Pipedreams' for people who liked that speaker before it's company went out of business [I think it is back, again, but it is all very confusing and products appear and disappear with great rapidity].

Wonder what effect those placards on the sides have on the sound? Might be OK, I can't tell. It seems like nice times out of ten I am in the room with these speakers there is no sound playing. And I don't remember any sound playing this year, either. though apparently, from the photos, there was.

Either A) people are trying to freak me out by playing the turntable with the volume set to zero, B) the hotel has kept the volumes down so low I can't hear the systems anymore, or C) I am just not paying enough attention to what is going on around me. Neli would say "C" but she is always saying that.

 
 
The Big BAT amps.
 
 
The subwoofer for the speakers.
 
Running Springs Audio power distributors
 
 
BAT electronics and Continuum turntable on a pair of Acoustic Dreams* equipment racks.
 
 
 
 
 
Again, I have NO idea what this is either. Argh! Confusion reigns.
 
This is the smaller of the two Continuum turntables. If you have been following the report so far, you have noticed that there is an awful lot of these at the show this year.
 
 
 
 

 

 

 

STYLE


Not Sure

 

SOUND


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Compared to all the iPod-driven systems at the show, this digital was not half bad.
 
 
 
The Dunlavy patent must have expired, because a lot of manufacturers seem to be treating cabinet edge reflection this way - though none in a resalable product format like this.
 
 
 

 

 

 

 

 

STYLE


Not Sure

 

SOUND


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This room was showcasing a lot of Aesthetix gear.
 
Clearaudio turntable and Aesthetix gear on an HRS* SXR equipment rack.
 
Clearaudio turntable of some sort [well, there is a lot of them, hows a person supposed to keep track?]
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
People are always saying Aesthetix gear has a lot of tubes, but it doesn't look like there is all that many to me. I think the problem might be that some people who are used to solid-state gear just don't know what to think about tubes  - because tubes wear out. Yep. And I think we are all in agreement that this does kind of suck.

 

 

 

 

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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