Companies featured in gallery below: Silverline Audio, Verity Audio, AudioQuest, TechDAS, Vertere, Genesis Advanced Technologies, Auralic, Vitus Audio, AVM-Tec, Chord Electronics, Van den Hul, Zanden Audio Systems, Kondo Audio Note, Jamo, Polk Audio
All prices in US dollars unless otherwise indicated
Silverline Audio's Alan Yun showed an updated version of his Minuet loudspeaker -- the Minuet Supreme Plus. The MSP retails for $699/pr. and is a two-way design featuring a 1" silk-dome tweeter and a 3.75" custom-made midrange-woofer. This new Minuet has a heavily braced cabinet that is 2" deeper than the original one.
Verity Audio introduced the Lohengrin II S loudspeaker, which is said to have some significant improvements over the previous Lohengrin design. New for this iteration is a constrained-layer-damped platform designed to isolate the speaker from the floor, along with some crossover enhancements. The Lohengrin II S is priced at $100,000/pr. in standard finishes.
AudioQuest introduced the DragonTail, a USB 2.0 USB extender. Like all of AudioQuest's cables, it uses solid-core conductors, and its construction is said to be at the same quality level as AudioQuest's Carbon-series cables. Although the DragonTail can be used with any USB-type device, its primary purpose is as a mate to AudioQuest's popular DragonFly DAC. The DragonTail has a retail price of $16.95.
The TechDAS Air Force One is the biggest turntable we saw here, as well as one of the most expensive -- the people in the room didn't know the exact price, but said, "$100,000 is safe." The One supports two tonearms and has a massive, two-part 30kg platter with vacuum hold-down. The chassis and "superstructure" are designed to eliminate all internal and external vibrations. The tonearm on the right is . . .
. . . the Vertere Reference. The Reference features "split-geometry vertical and horizontal movement using non-rotating bearings," as well as a number of materials in its construction: titanium for the headshell and arm, aluminum alloy for the bearing structure, and stainless-steel and tungsten carbide for the counterweight. One other feature is the "cueing light," which shines on the record. The Reference's price is $35,000.
The 6'-tall, 220-pound G2jr is the largest Genesis Advanced Technologies loudspeaker that the company could fit through the door. The G2jr features a line array of 12 tweeters; a 48" ribbon midrange driver; and two servo-controlled 12" woofers, each with its own 1000W amp. The G2jr sells for $80,000/pr.
China's Auralic showed their new Vega preamplifier-DAC, which supports PCM-based playback up to 32-bit/384kHz resolution, as well as native DSD. All incoming PCM streams are upsampled to 1.5MHz. Another of the Vega's features is a precise "femto" clock, which indicates very low jitter. The Vega's price is $3500.
Auralic also showed the new Merak mono power amp, a hybrid class-A/class-D design with a linear power supply. The Merak is said to deliver 200W into 8 ohms or 400W into 4 ohms. Each mono Merak is $2500.
The build quality of the Merak and the Vega look exceptional for their prices.
Denmark's Vitus Audio unveiled the RE-100 preamplifier-DAC. Chief designer Hans-Ole Vitus said that when people ask him if the RE-100 is primarily a preamplifier or a DAC, he replies with "both," because both sections received equal attention. One interesting feature of the RE-100 is that when either of the analog inputs is selected (there are two), the DAC section completely shuts down to eliminate interference. The RE-100's volume control has a relay-controlled, fixed-resistor network. The RE-100's price is $13,000.
Hans-Ole Vitus owns Vitus Audio. His son, Alexander V. Mogensen, is the owner of AVM-Tec, which, like Vitus Audio, is based in Denmark. AVM-Tec markets to the consumer side under the Alluxity brand. The first two products are the Pre One (top) and the Power One, which retail for $8000 and $11,000, respectively. Both components are fully balanced, have modular construction, and feature touch-screen controls. The Power One is rated at 200Wpc and "nearly" doubles into 4 ohms.
The UK's Chord Electronics introduced the DSX1000 music streamer. The DSX1000 uses Chord's proprietary FPGA DAC technology, and supports PCM-based playback up to 24-bit/192kHz resolution and native DSD. The analog control circuit is the same as their CPA8000 reference preamp, and the front panel holds a 3.5" full-color TFT display. The DSX1000's retail price is $13,000.
Van den Hul showed their new Ultimate USB cable, which features silver-over-copper conductors and high-quality connectors. The Ultimate's price is $550 for 1.5 meters.
Zanden Audio Systems of Japan showed their first-ever solid-state analog component -- the 120 phono stage. The 120 features five user-selectable equalization curves and a polarity-inversion switch. According to the company's literature, they paid strong attention to RF noise absorption. The 120 on display was a prototype, but the company estimates the price to be $7500 when it's released later this year.
Zanden also showed the 8120 all-tube stereo amplifier, which is said to deliver up to 120Wpc into 8 ohms. The 8120 uses four KT120 output tubes and is a fixed-bias design. The 8120's retail price is $20,990. Balanced connectors with input transformers are optional, at an extra cost (no pricing was given). The 8120 is available now.
As we walked into the Kondo Audio Note room, Roger said, "This stuff is crazy expensive." The KAN Kagura mono amplifier is a single-ended triode design they claim is capable of 55W (at 5% distortion!) into 16, 8, or 4 ohms. The Kagura has three transformers, high-voltage oil capacitors in the power supply, and "newly designed filament circuits [that] guarantee pure sound quality." We ultimately didn't find out the price because the Kagura shown was a prototype and still at least nine months from hitting the market.
Kondo Audio Note also showed the Biyura, which they describe as a "field-coil speaker system." They say that the field-coil magnet is used on the woofer for the "best absorption of back EMF." The tweeter is a horn-type design made of "instrument-grade brass" and has a diaphragm of pure silver. The Biyura's frequency response is rated at 45Hz-28kHz, its impedance is said to be 8 ohms, and its sensitivity is rated at 90dB. As for the price, Roger was right: $75,000/pr.
Ever wonder what happened to Mirage's Ominipolar technology? Klipsch, the company that swallowed them up, also owns Jamo, and a derivative the technology has been implemented in their new 360-series speakers, which comprise a couple of speaker sizes. The smallest one (above), the S25, has a .75" aluminum-dome tweeter that fires downward into a 2.5" aluminum-dome woofer. The S25s are priced at $649 for five speakers. There is also a matching subwoofer to flesh out a theater system, the Sub 800, priced at $599.
We have to admit that Jamo's 360 speakers aren't only colorful, but kinda cute. In fact, this little speaker looks like it can actually speak.
Polk's design goal for the Woodbourne was a speaker system with a small form factor that could provide a rich-sounding, room-filling experience. The Woodbourne is a fully powered design that features two 1" silk-dome tweeters and two 5.25" midrange woofers. The built-in amplifiers provide up to 70W into each midrange woofer and 20W into each tweeter. DSP optimizes the output. The Woodbourne operates wirelessly (AirPlay and Bluetooth compatible), and also has optical digital and mini-jack analog inputs. The Woodbourne's price is $599.