Denmark's Vitus Audio has continued to flesh-out their Reference Series line with the introduction of the RCD-100 CD player ($13,000) and RL-101 preamplifier ($11,000), shown at CES in striking white. These are the highest-value components Vitus Audio has ever released. [www.vitusaudio.com]
Rockport Technologies' new 220-pound Avior is a sleek-looking, high-tech loudspeaker. Although the Avior ($29,500 per pair) looks similar to previous Rockport designs, the Avior differs in that . . .
. . . Rockport designed and built its midrange and woofer drivers from the ground up. The tweeter is Scan-Speak's well-known, highly rated beryllium dome design. The three-way Avior is rated to play down to 25Hz and is available now. [www.rockporttechnologies.com]
TEAC's new Distinction line of electronic components resembles its Esoteric brethren in many ways. The AI-3000 integrated amplifier is massively built (69 pounds) and powerful (200Wpc into 8 ohms), just like some of the Esoteric products. But it's not massively priced -- the AI-3000 retails for only $2999. This looks to be a knock-out product at that price. [www.teac.com]
If you think the TEAC Distinction products present high value, wait until you see the UD-H01 USB DAC, which features 24/192 asynchronous digital audio transfer via its USB input. It also has a toroidal transformer power supply. The price for the UD-H01 is only $549.99. [www.teac.com]
Vandersteen's Treo loudspeaker is a high-value affair featuring a 6.5" woofer, a 4.5" midrange, and a 1" alloy-dome tweeter. Vandersteen is one of the few companies producing speakers that are truly time and phase coherent. The Treo is rated to play down to 32Hz and retails for $5990 per pair. [www.vandersteen.com]
Pass Labs showed their new Xs-series power amplifiers. The Xs 300 monoblocks ($85,000 per pair) are rated at 300W (into 8 ohms) and come with a separate power supply per channel. There is a less-powerful Xs 150 (150W into 8 ohms) also available for $65,000 per pair.
Denmark's DALI released a new flagship loudspeaker named the Epicon 6. This new model is distinctive because it's the first DALI loudspeaker to feature drive units that are all designed and built by DALI in-house. The tweeter section is . . .
. . . a hybrid design that combines a ribbon and a soft-dome unit to reproduce the high frequencies. The Epicon 6's retail price is yet to be determined.
Mark Levinson released a slew of new products at CES 2012, the most we've seen from them in several years. From left to right are the No560 DAC ($6000), No519 SACD/CD player ($8000), No585 integrated amplifier ($10,000), and the No52 Reference preamplifier ($25,000).
There were a number of new Revel products as well (Harman International owns both Mark Levinson and Revel). These new Revel Performa3 speakers were clearly a hit among our staff, as the team went back several times to listen, with Roger Kanno ultimately writing "Roger's Revel-ation." From left to right: the F208 floorstander with dual 8" woofers ($4500 per pair), the F206 with 6.5" woofers ($3000 per pair), the M106 bookshelf design ($1700 per pair) and the smallest model, the M105 ($1200 per pair). Two center-channels, one surround speaker, and two subwoofers are also in the line.
Cary Audio introduced a pair of new headphone amplifiers that look the same. The solid-state SH-1 (left) is priced at $995 and utilizes a monolithic JFET device in the input stage combined with a discrete class-A output stage. The HH-1 retails for $1495 and uses a pair of 6DJ8 tubes in the input stage while opting for a single-ended current-sourced MOSFET operating in class A at all times for the output stage. Both products should be available in March.
Switzerland’s Soulution was showcasing their brand-new 501 mono amplifier. Based on technology used in their 700 and 710 amplifiers, power output for the 501 is rated at 125W into 8 ohms, doubling successively in power into 4 and 2 ohms. The 501 is said to be highly biased for class-A operation that takes place in three stages. The attractive aluminum chassis houses a total of six power supplies per chassis, two of which are switched-mode and rated at 1200VA. The price for all this technology is a cool $50,000 per pair.
Germany's T+A revealed their new S-10 two-channel fully balanced amplifier, which is rated at 230Wpc when driving an 8-ohm load, rising to 500Wpc into 4 ohms. This is now the company's flagship amplifier. There is a selectable High Current Mode that allows the amplifier to provide 35Wpc of class-A power. The S-10 is actually a hybrid amplifier using . . .
. . . four 6SN7 tubes in the input stages and no fewer than 20 ring-emitter bipolar transistors in the output stages. The S-10 is available now for $16,500 and can be ordered in either silver aluminum or titanium finishes with your choice of gray or blue acrylic-glass options.
Bel Canto Design recently released a new receiver called the e.One C7R. Designed to be a "one-stop shop" for all your digital and analog needs, the C7R hosts a slew of features including five digital inputs (two coaxial, two optical, and one 24/96-capable USB), a pair of analog inputs (RCA and MM phono), a 24/192 DAC, an FM tuner, and a headphone amp. The amplifier section is based on technology used in their e.One REF150 power amp and is rated at 120Wpc into 4 ohms. The e.One C7R is available now for $2995. [www.belcantodesign.com]
DH Labs is now offering a Silver Sonic USB cable that features silver-coated OFHC copper conductors. The conductors are shielded with an innovative low-density, gas-injected insulation in an effort to maintain waveforms, especially in the high-frequency range. The Silver Sonic USB cable is available now at a cost of $70 for a 1m length.
Attracting a lot of attention at the Venetian were two greatly anticipated products from Dan D’Agostino Master Audio Systems: the Momentum stereo amplifier priced at $25,000 and the Momentum preamplifier (pictured above) priced at $28,000. Both products are fully balanced, zero-feedback designs featuring fully discrete circuitry. The preamplifier uses a resistor-ladder volume control governed by an optical controller. It's operated by the large solid aluminum ring around the display that indicates the volume level. Unlike the power amplifiers, the preamplifier houses its 300VA power supply in a completely separate chassis (not shown). Both products will be available in April.
AudioQuest showed their new Bridges & Falls line of single-ended analog cables, which are available in a wide variety of configurations and priced from $30 to $1000 for a 1m length, depending on model. Shown is the top-of-the-line Diamond 1/8" mini-plug-to-RCA stereo interconnect, which features the company's patented battery-biasing system. [www.audioquest.com]
Divergent Technologies, the North American distributor for Denmark's Copland, showed the new CTA506 power amplifier, which uses . . .
KT120 output tubes to deliver 50Wpc into 8 ohms. The CTA506 retails for $6500 and is available now.
Without question, LP playback is alive and well in high-end audio, with turntables that continue to offer more features and higher performance. The Kronos turntable features floating suspension along with a counter-rotating platter system that's said to significantly reduce vibration during playback. The Kronos is made in Canada and retails for $28,000 without a tonearm or cartridge.