Amir's CES 2015 High-end Audio Report and Picture Thread

amirm

Banned
Apr 3, 2010
15,813
19
0
Seattle, WA
The high-end CES show at the Venetian seems slow to me. Attendance seemed half as much. There were almost none of the long lines at the elevators and it was easy to walk into most rooms and find a good seat. I also thought there were less companies in attendance. Caelin of Shunyata told me a lot of Europeans had decided to sit this show out.

Not much stood out for me at this show. The usual hit and miss was going on relative to whether the content was exceptional to my ear vs not, as opposed to equipment capability.

The main highlight was meeting my old colleague, BoB Stuart of Meridian and discussing at length MQA and his latest listening tests. More on this later.
 

amirm

Banned
Apr 3, 2010
15,813
19
0
Seattle, WA


Can you say big sound?


Reinforced by the imposing Focal speakers and Naim amplifiers.



The business end of the Focals:




Interconnects:


Beautiful Cross-overs:



Not that visible in this picture but for transistors, these looked pretty beat up:



Another look at the Focal driver:
 

amirm

Banned
Apr 3, 2010
15,813
19
0
Seattle, WA


When I walked in, they were playing some old piano recordings full of pops and clicks. It was flat with no dynamics. No doubt it is some fantastic rendition that classical fans love and worship :). But for me it sounded like a clock radio.


Fortunately the next track which was digital :D, playing through EMM Labs sounded excellent. Very nice resolution and warm sounding.





Same large room as always. Last year every seat was taken and it was standing room only. You can see that it is much more sparsely populated this year:



Took multiple angles just in case Steve needs more than one to pin up on his walls:


 

amirm

Banned
Apr 3, 2010
15,813
19
0
Seattle, WA
Smaller Lamm room with solid state electronics and Wilson speakers:




Don't hear much about their transistor amps. Are they popular? Was not too impressed with what they were playing here.



Here is a pin up for Steve again:



Nice beefy look:



Is that the Air Force One?
 

amirm

Banned
Apr 3, 2010
15,813
19
0
Seattle, WA


This Melco Japanese video server caught my eye:


Specifically the "audio optimized" SSD drives in there from Buffalo. At first I thought it was some nonsense but from talking to the designer of the box, he said they had modified the firmware so that it would not have sharp fluctuations in power. Makes sense in theory.



Another beauty:



 

amirm

Banned
Apr 3, 2010
15,813
19
0
Seattle, WA


It was a pleasure to finally meet Caelin in person! He was showing off their new MPC-12 power distribution. He said the main deal was that it had two isolated bars, one for noisy computer type equipment and the other, for audio:






 

amirm

Banned
Apr 3, 2010
15,813
19
0
Seattle, WA


Love the clean industrial design of Constellation Audio:







Looks like they are rubbing shoulders with Boulder's big amp:


Pink Floyd playing. Sounded fine.
 

amirm

Banned
Apr 3, 2010
15,813
19
0
Seattle, WA
Pass Labs with TAD speakers. This too sounded "OK."

Their usual show-and-tell stack right when you walk into the room:





Technics turntable:
 

amirm

Banned
Apr 3, 2010
15,813
19
0
Seattle, WA
MBL:


I must admit, I don't "get" these speakers. They were omni-directional of course. They sounded tubby to me with plenty of cabinet resonances.






Pretty electronics though:
 

amirm

Banned
Apr 3, 2010
15,813
19
0
Seattle, WA

So time for the controversial Synergistic Research thingy with MacIntosh electronics:



Magico S-series speakers:


And the "star" of the show in the middle:


I heard the best sound of the show in this booth. No, it was not because of this thing but the selection of material. It was the track Down in the Hole from Howling Mercy album by John Campbell:


Tremendous ambiance which even comes across in the Youtube video. Replaces Chris Jones No Sanctuary for this type of music.

Anyway, the demo person started with the device on. He played a minute or so then stopped the music. Turned the device off. And played again. The drop in ambiance was substantial. Try as I might, I could not push all the improvements out of my head. Still, I wanted a more proper test and asked him if he would turn the device off and on as the music played. He refused saying it would not show off the device as well! Fishy....

He went on to explain some nonsense about "RF" signals being generated by the thing starting at 8 Hz or some crazy thing. 8 Hz is not RF.

Anyway, I can see how people can walk away very impressed. He could not have set up a more convincing demo and demo material.



He has a more conventional passive absorbers around the room:


List of his music:
 

amirm

Banned
Apr 3, 2010
15,813
19
0
Seattle, WA
OK guys. Have to take a break. Fingers hurting. :). Will have to keep the thread closed until I put the rest of the pictures up as otherwise they will be disjointed. Sorry about that. I will do my best to finish them tomorrow. Looks like I have half as much to go.

Good night. :)
 

amirm

Banned
Apr 3, 2010
15,813
19
0
Seattle, WA
Our favorite "amplifier from hell" company: Boulder


They were showing off this player with its beautiful wide-screen display:



Not touch though. I wonder the usability of such displays when the control is really in a touch device. Still, nice to look at. The box is far from release though. It is not yet "alpha."

Cool thing is all the connectivity including HDMI:






OK, enough with small stuff. Let's go back to amps. :D




 

amirm

Banned
Apr 3, 2010
15,813
19
0
Seattle, WA
Avantgarde


Pretty speaker but tons of cabinet resonance. Female track they were playing sounded good though:




 

amirm

Banned
Apr 3, 2010
15,813
19
0
Seattle, WA
Gamut et al.



Pretty low-end build quality. Cabinet resonance pretty bad. Sounded decent though:





Sorry about the shakey image. Most of these rooms were pitch dark. I took my tripod but of course forgot it at the hotel room! Manufacturers need to pay more attention to lighting. If the stuff doesn't come out good in report images, they miss on nice marketing opportunity:



Now this XLO speaker is cute!

 

amirm

Banned
Apr 3, 2010
15,813
19
0
Seattle, WA
KLIPPEL, the speaker/acoustics measurement company, was showing their robotic measurement mic which replaces the Mic array:

 

amirm

Banned
Apr 3, 2010
15,813
19
0
Seattle, WA


It is always a pleasure to see Vince showing his Totem speakers. This time it was the on-wall:


The woofers are crossover-less. The sound was surprisingly big, confusing you to think it was the floor standing ones.

And his ads and images on the walls speak for themselves as usual :).

 

About us

  • What’s Best Forum is THE forum for high end audio, product reviews, advice and sharing experiences on the best of everything else. This is THE place where audiophiles and audio companies discuss vintage, contemporary and new audio products, music servers, music streamers, computer audio, digital-to-analog converters, turntables, phono stages, cartridges, reel-to-reel tape machines, speakers, headphones and tube and solid-state amplification. Founded in 2010 What’s Best Forum invites intelligent and courteous people of all interests and backgrounds to describe and discuss the best of everything. From beginners to life-long hobbyists to industry professionals, we enjoy learning about new things and meeting new people, and participating in spirited debates.

Quick Navigation

User Menu

Steve Williams
Site Founder | Site Owner | Administrator
Ron Resnick
Site Co-Owner | Administrator
Julian (The Fixer)
Website Build | Marketing Managersing