CES 2008 Audio Update
The high end audio was once again in the Venetian tower and was even bigger than last year. Word was T.H.E. show was dead and very small this year, it seems many of the smaller companies ponied up and moved to the Venetian. Almost every room was filled with gear and it took us an entire day to get through two floors!
Several companies were off site, including Mark Levinson who was showing off their new amp line, topped by the $25,000 per #53, a 500 wpc DIGITAL mono-block amp, also on display was the new 532, a 400 wpc dual mono amp that hasn't been finalized yet buy may come with some things previously only found in the #33! Levinson reps swear it is simply the best sounding amp they have ever made, and if I can keep from drooling on it will hopefully have one soon to report on!
Joseph Audio was demoing there new RM 55's with a full compliment of Bel Canto electronics and what can I say, there is just something magical about this combination, the speakers were gorgeous and sounded great as well, and those little Bel Canto Ref 1000's are amazing! Andrew has five in his system now and I must admit I'm jealous! His review isn't out yet but from how he was talking about them I'm sure it will be a rave!
Escalante Design had two rooms at the Venetian and were used in another, they had their Fremonts in a two channel set up with Electrocompaniet AW400 mono-blocks. I love these guys, not only do they make some of the finest sounding speakers in the world, but they also showed in multichannel, which they did with their smaller Pinyon and Juniper speakers and Uinta subwoofer on a cool Electrocomaniet system that allowed the preamp to selectively switch the mated amplifiers to function as bridged mono-blocks in two channel and swap back to two and three channel amps when in multichannel! The company is even environmentally friendly! The Fremonts are one of the fastest speakers I've ever heard, and they had the best sound of the show. These speakers are highly efficient yet able to be plugged into a wall outlet without damage! They have been one of my favorites since I first heard them at the now defunct Stereophile show in NYC some years ago and every time I hear them I know why they left such an impression.
Avalon Acoustics was demoing their new Indra and the Diamonds were also on the floor, and both sounded so smooth and seductive. You could get lost listening to these speakers!
King, a chinese speaker builder had a pair of full range electrostatic speakers that were awesome, especially as they were quoted as $4K a pair! I had to practically drag Andrew Robinson out of that room, and am still surprised he didn't leave the show with them!
Meridian was showing the 8000 series loudspeakers with and 808i source, for such a simple system the sound was jaw dropping!
Merlin and Joule were demoing with an Audio Aero source, this is another all time favorite of mine, and I just had to pull myself out of the room quickly or I might never have seen the rest of the show.
Hovland had their big mono's playing and not only are these guys as nice and enthusiastic as they come, their gear is off the charts good! This room sounded fabulous and we also had to go back for more!
I know I'm missing many, and will try to post more of them later as I remember them, but here's a start!
Ken Taraszka, MD
Last edited by kennyt; 01-11-2008 at 08:07 PM..