Gabi van der Kley holds her crowning achievement: the as-yet-unnamed flagship of the Crystal Cable line. She and husband Edwin (the president of sister-company Siltech) explained how these cables produce ten times less distortion and seven times lower inductance than normal audio cables. There are numerous design and material advances in these new cables over their previous cable, one of which is the pure mono-crystal silver conductors. These jewel-like cables . . .
. . . are impressive down to the very smallest details, which include "Crystal Cable" engraved on one side of the barrel, the serial number on the other. [www.crystalcable.com]
Crystal Cable had on display their Arabesque Mini loudspeakers in a new striking white finish ($25,000 per pair with stands). What makes this color all the more impressive is when you realize it's not painted wood, but in fact is anodized aluminum. Want to make the Minis even more attractive? Then . . .
. . . pair them with Devialet's D-Premier integrated amplifier, which is now available in a high-gloss white finish, as well as . . .
. . . matte black. Of course, the original chrome finish is also available. Each person will have their own preference as to which new finish is better. Doug Schneider favored the white finish, while Jeff liked the black. Regardless of the finish, the D-Premier's price remains the same: $15,995.
JL Audio showed prototypes of their new lower-priced subwoofers. The E112 (shown) and E110 will be priced at $1600 and $1300, respectively, in black-ash vinyl veneer, or a real-wood veneer for $100 more. The E112 features a massively built 12" driver and is rated down to 20Hz. Of course, both subs have . . .
. . . built-in amplifiers. The E112 has a 1400W RMS class-D amplifier with a regulated switching power supply and has a 24dB/octave crossover for two-channel systems, but it lacks JL Audio's ARO room-optimization system featured in their more expensive subs. The E110 and EE12 are expected to be available later this year. [www.jlaudio.com]
Definitive Technology's new SuperCube 8000 subwoofer has a feature that we wish more subwoofers had: a large front display that shows the status when it's being adjusted via its remote control. There is an 11" front-mounted driver powered by a 1500W digital-tracking amplifier, along with two side-mounted 12" passive radiators. The SuperCube 800 will be available in April or May at a price of $1499. [www.definitivetech.com]
The Audioengine D2 two-piece digital-to-analog converter system can wirelessly stream up to 24/96 digital audio signals that start at your computer. The base unit has USB and optical inputs and can broadcast to up to three receivers. The receiver uses the Burr-Brown PCM1792 DAC chip and has RCA stereo analog and optical digital outputs. The D2 is available now and is priced at $599 (with one transmitter and one receiver), with additional receivers available for $349 each.
The Audioengine D1 is a high-quality, low-cost digital-to-analog converter that utilizes the AKM AK4396 DAC chip. It has a 24/96 USB input and a 24/192 optical input, along with stereo RCA outputs. The D1 can also be used as a high-quality headphone amplifier and is available now for $169.
When we visited their booth, NuForce's Jason Lim told us that a new unannounced product had just arrived not ten minutes before us. The U192S USB-to-S/PDIF converter will accept signals with resolutions up to 24/192 and will output them as coaxial or optical S/PDIF signals to a DAC. Front-mounted lights indicate the incoming sample rate. The U192S will be priced at $149 when it becomes available later this year. [www.nuforce.com]
NuForce also showed their new Air DAC, which can stream a digital audio signal wirelessly from its USB dongle and output an analog signal through stereo RCA jacks. The Air DAC's price has not yet been determined, but it should be available next month. [www.nuforce.com]
When we visited Samsung's booth at the Las Vegas Convention Center, we weren't surprised to see a whole lot of iPod docks and Blu-ray players in their line-up of products. What did surprise us was that upon closer inspection, a couple of these products actually had . . .
. . . tubed input stages. The tagline on their displays was, "Feel the new era of sound from vacuum tubes." This won't come as a shock to most audiophiles, but when questioned, one of the representatives demonstrating the products explained that Samsung was using tubes because of their "rich, warm sound." There was no information available on the price or availability of these products.
Japan's Zanden Audio demonstrated two new components: the 1300 tube phono stage, which has five selectable EQ curves and retails for $13,750 (top), and the 6000 integrated amplifier, which uses KT-120 tubes to output 100Wpc and retails for $22,000 (bottom). The 1300 is the company's lowest-priced phono stage, and the 6000 is their highest-powered amplifier.
Light Harmonic's DaVinci DAC is capable of decoding a 384kHz digital signal via USB, and it's one of only a few DACs available right now that can do that. The chassis design is also unique in that it breaks down into . . .
. . . two layers that rotate in such a way as to separate the digital circuitry from the power supply. The DaVinci DAC's price is $20,000.
Rogue Audio of the USA played their new Medusa amplifier, which is special because it's a hybrid design that marries a tube input stage and a class-D output stage. Rogue rates the Medusa's power output as 200Wpc into 8 ohms. Rogue was proud to show . . .
. . . the quality of the interior construction of the Medusa. It's packed with what appear to be good-quality parts and is made in the USA. The Medusa retails for $3995 and is available now.
Volent of Hong Kong made great music with their new Paragon VL-3 loudspeaker, which features a twin-ribbon tweeter, an Accuton ceramic midrange, and a carbon-fiber/titanium-cone woofer, all housed in a nicely constructed mid-sized cabinet. The cost of the VL-3 is $11,000 per pair. The driver layout . . .
. . . on the front panel may look conventional, but the tweeter doesn't come into play until 5000Hz, which is quite high in frequency but should blend nicely with the tiny midrange driver. Doug Schneider reviewed the VL-2 Signature Edition speakers on SoundStage! Hi-Fi a few months ago and was impressed with it. We've asked for a pair of these new speakers for review. [www.volent.com.hk]
Peak Consult showed the Kepheus loudspeaker ($110,000 per pair). This model is a five-driver, three-way floorstander with Audiotechnology mids and woofers and a Morel tweeter. It's rated to play from 25Hz to 45kHz, and each speaker weighs 343 pounds. The most striking attribute of the Kepheus is . . .
. . . the beautiful hardwood finish.
South Africa's Vivid Audio introduced the G3, the latest and smallest in their Giya series. The G3 is a four-way design that features all the technical highlights of Vivid's G1 and G2 models in a smaller, more room-friendly size. The Giya G3 retails for $40,000 per pair and will be available by summer.