As I continued to wind my way through the high-end exhibits at CES, I also had the opportunity to talk to some luminaries in the industry. Look for some interviews in these pages as the series will start with none other than the Vinyl Guru himself, Michael Fremer. I spent the better part of a day with Michael and had the time of my life. He is a great guy and has some pretty interesting answers to my questions.
As for other notable rooms, I was impressed with the sound at the Sunny Cables room. They were highlighting their speaker line with the H2W10 with the soundtrack from Hell Freezes Over, the Eagles’ comeback concert. I requested the opener, “Hotel California” because I am very familiar with this track. The sound was very smooth and very well integrated within the drivers. This is a 2-way system with bass reflex woofer and horn‐loaded mid and high frequency driver. The stated frequency response is 30 to 20,000 Hz with a sensitivity of 91 dB. This should allow them to mate well with low power amps.
US Price is $9,600.00 in the Birdseye Maple finish.
Sunny Cable H2W10►
Next on my list was the Laufer Teknik room where the Boenicke W20SE was playing. Utilizing Behold electronics to drive this interesting speaker, the sound was very inviting. This floor standing unit is carved from solid wood; the model being played happened to be walnut. The lacquered paper diaphragms and voice coils are somewhat unique and the dynamic driver uses an Apple tree phase plug. This is a four-ohm speaker with a sensitivity of 90db and the frequency response is stated as 50Hz to 20 kHz, although it sounded as if it went much deeper. At approximately 38” tall, it was a very attractive and tidy package.
▼Boenicke W20SE with Behold Amplifier
On the same floor as the two rooms mentioned was the most interesting looking speaker I saw at this year’s CES, and it also happened to sound fairly good. This was the $30,000.00 Silbatone Aporia Horn driven by Silbatone electronics. For lack of a more eloquent description, this reminded me of a B&W Nautilus on steroids. The sound was quite captivating though as it truly did seem to go full-range with no noticeable suck out in any particular frequency range. I sat for quite a while trying to convince myself that this would pass muster with Paula on the WAF. Perhaps in a different and darker color it would look a bit better. With the 3-point star at the front of the full range driver, there was a distinct feeling this was a speaker designed by Mercedes Benz. It uses a customized flat-cone Manger driver from Germany, and is geometry-optimized for smooth wave flow and compact form.
Silbatone Aporia Horn►
for today’s listener.
Onward and upward, literally, to the Axiss Audio room to check out the Transrotor turntables. These are some of my favorite tables and I love the magnetic drive technology. They use a platter with magnets that is belt driven. Above it is another platter with metal weights embedded in the bottom of the platter. This creates a magnetic drive so that the actual platter rotating the album comes in contact with no mechanical vibration at all.
I first saw this in the 132lb Transrotor Tourbillon, one of the better looking tables ever built. When I arrived, they were not playing anything but on display was the new flagship Transrotor. Coming to a showroom near you for a paltry $200K! Yes, I said $200,000.00! The technology is pretty interesting and uses a pendulum device not unlike the flagship Clearaudio. Some might say it is more attractive and less cumbersome, but you be the judge. Not sure that I will ever see this again as they are one off, built to order and you pay upfront. Can I please review this unit? Huh? Please? Pretty please??
▼Transrotor Statement Turntable
After that little jolt to my analogue system, I found my way to NuForce / Waterfall room. Have you ever seen glass speakers? I was once told that glass was not a good material for shelving units to hold audio equipment because of ringing problems. The idea of speakers made from the stuff just seemed odd to me and yet Waterfall has not only made it work, they have made it work very well indeed. They were playing the flagship Niagra (get it? Niagra waterfall? Oh that is too funny) speaker and it sounded wonderful.
These speakers, when placed anywhere that sunlight can directly hit them, become large music producing prisms and that is a very nice no-extra-cost bonus. It just so happened that this feature was in play when I was in the room. Until one of us is lucky enough to review these (oh please let it be me). I will just say they sound as good as they look. They employ a glass horn and dynamic drivers including a downward firing passive radiator. Frequency response is stated at 36Hz to 28kHz. Price is set at $53,000.00 a pair. These were being driven by some very interesting electronics that employed absolutely no metal components at all made by Nu Force. See them at http://www.waterfallaudio.com for yourself.
I also went to see Jonathan Scull (another in my series of interviews) who is representing Loiminchay along with XLO and Bel Canto. The sound coming from the Loiminchay Kandinsky speakers was to die for. These are definitely a very interesting cabinet design. Handmade and very labor intensive, they are made from 30mil birch multi-ply laminate. The baffles are shaped into the cabinets and not an add-on. The Kandinsky use dynamic drivers and a wood horn with a beryllium driver unit. The units were being driven by Nagra electronics and who doesn’t love those? These are definitely funky looking units but the craftsmanship is top notch and the sound is right up there too. The $58,000.00 Chagalls were set up in another room and I have heard these before and was mightily impressed.
I found myself stumbling, literally after being tripped up, into the Coincident room. Rocking the room were the $14,900.00 Total Victory IV, and they were smoking. The soundstage was 3D. I was enchanted by how well they drew me into the music. Just lovely and they were being driven by their own Dragon 211 monoblock amplifiers. These amps push out 75 watts per side and sell for $8,999.00 including shipping. But wait. There’s more! If you purchase them with a set of Coincident speakers they will only cost you $7999.00. What a deal!!!
I ended up traveling to T.H.E. Show at Alexis Park specifically to see a few people. One of those was Cole Hatfield of Nawrocka Distributing and his lovely wife Ania. He was displaying the new $20,000.00 Neeper Acoustic Perfection One floor standing speakers. These were being driven by Sovereign and Aaron electronics. They had a very difficult room but the set up was done at an angle and really worked without so much as a single tuning panel. On hand was Kim “Neeper” Rasmussen, the designer of the speaker to talk about his design. It was all fascinating stuff that I will not discuss here but look forward to Dagogo doing a review on these very soon.
Overall, the sound was very dynamic and enjoyable. Kim played a song that all of us fell in love with but no one could identify it. Not even the Shazam application on my iPhone could identify the tune. What a shame. One of the more unique aspects of this speaker is the processing used on the wood veneer to give it the strange, yet very attractive look you see in the picture. It comes in three different finishes all of which are truly beautiful. The electronics seemed to be a great match for the speaker and included the Sovereign Glory amplifier at $17,000.00 and the Aaron No.33 Cineast pre-amp at $5000.00 driven by a $20,000.00 Ypsilon CD player.
Another room at T.H.E. Show was the Wavac room where the MD-805m monoblock amplifiers were doing their usual magic. I am a big fan of 805 amplifiers and was impressed with the sound I was hearing for the short duration of my visit. These puppies put out 55 watts per channel of direct-heated single-ended triode power. They also happen to be very attractively designed. Jack Roberts has already reviewed the MD-300B monoblocks and the EC-300B integrated. At $21,000.00 a pair, the expectations of the 805s is definitely high but if the way they sounded at the show was any indication, they should acquit themselves rather well.
Finally, I stopped by to see Peter Ledermann from Soundsmith. I know that Phillip Holmes already covered the room in his show review so I will spare you. I do want to note that Peter is probably one of the most genuine guys in Hifi and his dedication to the Stolen Childhoods cause through Direct Grace recordings (I did an entire article on this a month ago) is unbelievable. Unfortunately, the project has stalled out for lack of additional funding above and beyond the $125k that he has put in of his own money. So, if there are readers who are looking for a philanthropic cause, please, and I cannot implore enough, contact Peter and offer to help him out. Go to the company website http://www.sound-smith.com or email email@example.com.
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