Some audiophiles cherish tubes, and even modestly powered tube amplifiers. From Napa Acoustics (which appears to hail from China, not a valley in California) comes the 40 watts per channel MM4 hybrid integrated amp (tube input stage, solid state output stage), at the amazingly low price (for those who know how much these things can cost) of $699. A larger, 35wpc all tube MT34 will set you back $1199.
Like most cable manufacturers these days, Kimber Kable's top speaker cables sell at "If you have to ask" prices. Shown here is how they are internally constructed, which looks like a braided mesh of cables over a flexible inner core.
Energy has long been one of my favorite speaker companies, not least because of my long term reference Energy Veritas v2.8 speakers, circa 1994 (an eon for an audiophile to favor anything). But the brand has fallen on hard times since its acquisition (along with Mirage) by the Klipsch Group. Hopefully better days are ahead. There are, apparently, some new Veritas models in the lineup, but you'd never know it from Klipsch's CES kiosk that features subwoofers and soundbars.
Funny, it looks a lot younger with the introduction of a new integrated amp, a CD/SACD player, DAC, and preamp. All of them are 2-channel only, of course. The first three are expected to come in at $10,000 or under when they appear in mid-2012. The preamp, however, will set you back $25,000. All four offer a full complement of digital inputs (including asynchronous USB). The preamp and integrated amp also have analog inputs. The player has external digital inputs, and both it and the DAC have volume controls and may be used as digital preamps for direct connection to your power amps.
TAD was again showing its high-end speakers and electronics. But there's been a new delivery to the family, the E1 floorstander (the smaller of the two shown in the picture). For TAD, it's now the company's "entry level" consumer mode. Like all TAD speakers, it exhibited a tremendous dynamic range—which you should expect for those bucks but don't always get.
Good things come in threes, and in this case it's Parasound's new three-channel Halo A31 amplifier ($3000, available soon). It's essentially a three-channel version of Parasound's highly-regarded Halo A21 stereo amp, and a cousin to the company's Halo A51 five-channel design. Why would you want a three-channel amp? To locate your front channel amps up front and your surround amps in the rear where they can benefit from shorter cable runs to the surround speakers. Or perhaps you don't need as much power in back, or already have a decent stereo amp you can use there.
In an adjoining room, Thiel was demonstrating the new CS1.7 (estimate $5500/pair, available early in 2012), a replacement for the well-received CS1.6. They use the same woofers as the MCS1.2, below, and sounded superb driven by Bryston electronics. But I might add that Thiel has used this same room for the last three CESs, and it hasn't produced anything short of audio magic there yet.
Two years ago I prodded for a new Thiel center channel to match the company's flagship CS3.7 speaker. Now it's here—or will be later this year. The MCS1.2 uses the same coaxial midrange-tweeter driver as the CS3.7, along with a pair of smaller, newly developed woofers. In addition to use with the CS3.7s, the MCS1.2 can also be used as left and right front speakers and/or surrounds. Pricing TBD.
Myspace CEO Tim Vanderhook, and co-owner, Justin Timberlake announced Myspace TV at the Panasonic CES press conference. Available on Panasonic TVs as part of VIERA Connect on their next generation of Smart VIERA TV HDTVs, Myspace TV allows users to share and comment on the TV shows that they’re viewing.
Vanderhook began by explaining,“Historically, TV has been a shared experience, as people gathered together to watch their favorite programs.” Viewers can make comments on programming creating a group conversation that will show up on their friends’ Myspace TV.
Turntables are alive and well, thank you very much. A-T has a well-deserved reputation for making solid turntables, and keeps hope alive with the introduction of a new model. The AT-LP1240-USB is aimed at both the DJ and home markets.
While it’s always a party at CES, this year was something special for Audio-Technica. They’re here celebrating “50 Years of Passionate Listening” with five limited edition headphones and phono cartridges debuting here.
PSB's Imagine T2 tower can be mentioned in the same breath as the brand's world-beating Synchrony line. The titanium tweeter and polypropylene midrange are backed up with three polypropylene woofers crossed over at 500Hz, 250Hz, and 80Hz, making this a five-way speaker. All drivers live in separate chambers to prevent them from interfering with one another. The result of all that scrupulous construction and ingenuity is a genuinely fantastic sounding speaker with powerful bass, a musically adept midrange, and just the right amount of top end. The number of audio demos at the show that came close can be counted on the fingers of one hand. Price is $3500/pair in veneer or $3850/pair in gloss white or black.
Monitor Audio's Shadow on-walls come in four sizes, all with four-inch flat mid-woofers and the famous C-CAM tweeter used in company's other speakers, built into tough extruded aluminum enclosures. Prices range from $849 to $1649 per pair. They sounded mellower than is typical for Monitor and were home theater worthily dynamic.
Cardas is best known for bleeding-edge cables but is moving into earbuds with the EM 5813 Ear Speakers. Their heavy and lustrous metal casings are brass in the $425 model and steel in the $325 model. Despite their weight, they fit well and don't fall out easily if you pick the right cushion size (took me a couple of tries). Cardas went to a lot of trouble to make the tube mimic the shape of the cochlea, in proportions that adhere to the Golden Ratio, a longtime Cardas design obsession. (It seems to have resulted in a long string of great-sounding products.) The diaphragm is about the size of the eardrum.