January 6-9, 2011
All prices in US dollars unless indicated otherwise
Companies featured in gallery below: Simaudio Moon, Differential Technology, Copland, Audience, Clearaudio, Musical Fidelity, GutWire, Peachtree Audio, Roksan, Audio Technica, Sennheiser, Sonus Faber, Sony, Totem Acoustic
Companies featured in gallery below: Crystal Cable, Anthony Gallo Acoustics, Focus Audio, Vitus Audio, Esoteric, Bel Canto Design, Zanden Audio, Eximus, Convergent Audio Technology, dCS, Constellation Audio, M2Tech
Companies featured in gallery below: Alpha Design Labs, Furutech, DH Labs, Essential Sound Products, Genesis Advanced Technologies, Estelon, MSB Technology, Venture, Volent, Beyerdynammic, Sherbourn, Cambridge Audio, Audio Aero, Avalon Acoustics, Boulder Amplifiers, Hi-Fi Tuning, EgglestonWorks
If you were at CES and saw a shiny, non-descript integrated amplifier with a sexy remote and simply passed it by because you thought it was too pretty to be a serious audio product, you probably missed one of the most exciting product debuts in Las Vegas this year.
Polk Audio has significantly redesigned their top-of-the-line LSi series of loudspeakers and dubbed them LSiM. Even with all of the new upgrades, the price of a pair of bookshelf speakers starts at only $1500 and goes up to $4000 for a pair of their largest floorstanders.
Back in 2008 I reviewed the Crystal Cable Arabesque all-glass speaker and found it to be the most thrilling product that I've ever covered. It sounded fantastic, and just look at the thing -- it’s drop-dead sexy and absolutely unique!
We'd just finished presenting the crew from Ayre Acoustics with the 2010 Product of the Year award in the electronics category for the MX-R mono amplifiers and KX-R preamplifier when we noticed the new VX-R stereo amplifier, which is sure to be a hit with audiophiles worldwide.
SoundStage! Network contributor Roger Kanno goes by the nickname Mr. Las Vegas. He knows every slot-club and coupon deal in the city, he's mapped out shortcuts through each casino, and he's established quality ratings for every hotel buffet. So when it comes to CES meals and event planning, he's our man.
Rarely do I hear anything at a show that makes me sit up and take notice like the PSB Imagine Mini did. But after hearing it, I couldn't wait to get back to my SoundStage! Network colleagues and tell them how good PSB's new Imagine Mini sounded.
You would think that someone would have figured out a way to future-proof surround processors and receivers. Most surround-sound components become obsolete as soon as a new type of audio or video processing is introduced, requiring the consumer to upgrade by purchasing a new unit if they want to remain at the leading edge of technology.
There's a fine balance between humility, genius, and arrogance. High-end audio is full of people who profess to genius, who make their careers by claiming to have special insight into electronics or speaker design.
The world is perverse and it thrives on irony. Today I went into the Venetian hotel, home of CES's high-performance exhibits, looking for the rich vein of analog gear that I just knew would be threaded through the entire show.
CES 2011 doesn’t start until January 6, but the key to creating a timely, relevant show report is to make sure you’re prepared well ahead of time. We arrived in Las Vegas on January 3, and we started work on January 4 to get a quick head start.
You have to admire aspiration and vision. The renderings for Verity Audio's new Monsalvat loudspeaker ($325,000 per pair) show truly inspired thinking. It's simply beautiful. Not beautiful as in a really good-looking loudspeaker, but beautiful as art in and of itself.
In some ways, the Tidal line of speakers looks quite conventional and some of the materials they use may seem common. But when you hear Tidal speakers, you know there's far more going on under the surface than might be obvious to casual onlookers.
As we presented the SoundStage! Network Product of the Year award for stereo loudspeakers to Richard Vandersteen for his Model Seven design, it was obvious to me that this model represents a top choice for a discerning audiophile seeking a state-of-the-art time-and-phase-aligned speaker.
Those were the days: You could build a "high end" loudspeaker by purchasing off-the-shelf drivers, tinkering with the crossover network in your garage, and building the cabinet with a table saw and a few bar clamps.
I flew into Nevada on a crisp, cloudless night. The air was dry here in the desert. That dry air endows landscapes with a lucid quality that's almost hallucinatory. I'd look out a hotel-room window and there in front of me would be a rugged, austere, almost lunar landscape that was totally at odds with the madcap ring-ring-ring casino frenzy.
One hundred and ninety-nine thousand dollars isn't quite enough to buy a detached home in my city any longer, but it is enough to buy a decent condo or a townhouse, and it's way more than enough to buy one of the most amazing sports cars you can imagine and be envied by almost every guy in the city. It’s also enough to buy one of the worst loudspeakers I’ve heard in years: the Venture Xtreme, priced at exactly what I just said for a pair.
Mirage's original M1 loudspeaker was released in about 1987 and is considered by many to be a legend. Back then, the Mirage brand was owned by Canada's Audio Products International (API), and the M1 looked like the Monolith from 2001. All that's changed.
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