“Mos Eisley Spaceport. You will never find a more wretched hive of scum and villainy. We must be cautious.”
Obi-Wan Kenobi, Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope
As we were pulling up to the Venetian, my host, chauffeur for the day and fellow Dagogoan Gary Lea says: “oh, just to warn you, the porn convention is in town”. I’ve never seen a more motley and diverse group of people in my life. And that’s just the CES attendees.
After fighting Dallas traffic, getting lost at DFW airport (one of the worst in my opinion), spending two hours on a jet, fighting Vegas traffic, walking through a casino and getting an eyeful of scantily clad porn stars, my brain was in terminal overload. Thursday was pretty much a lost cause. I didn’t even remember to grab my notebook from my luggage. However, I did unwind enough to enter a few rooms.
The sight of large panels attracted me to KingSound, being distributed by Roger DuNaier of Performance Devices. KingSound is a product of King’s Audio Limited, hailing from Hong Kong. The model playing was The King, which is aptly named; its specifications are impressive: 32Hz-24kHz, 450 watts maximum recommended power (nearly impossible to arc according to the designer—takes serious power without damage), decent sensitivity for a large electrostatic at 83 db/watt; 6 ohms load and 15V at 120mA on the plates, 28” wide by 1.6” thick by 71” tall. 1.6” make them incredibly thin.
Roger told me that KingSound had worked hard to develop new technologies for electrostatic designs. The 15V 120mA supply is truly different form the old defibrillators of yore. No dead animals! Judging from the thin profile, high power capability and low voltages used, I agree with Roger that KingSound has made a major contribution the electrostatic speaker art. Besides the sound, the best part is this: only $8,000. I thought that was dealer price, but no, it says “suggested retail prices” and Roger confirmed it.
The sound was rich and smooth, as you would expect of a full range ‘stat. Bass extended very low and is only limited by the width of the speaker and its position relative to the room boundaries. I found the speaker’s dynamic capabilities and high frequency extension remarkable. The highs sound more ribbon-like than electrostatic. Dynamic snap of percussion instruments was among the best I’ve heard from a full range ESL. Soundstage width and depth were nearly state-of-the-art, another calling card of good ‘stats. If you are in the market for a full range electrostatic, you should do everything within your ability to hear these before they decide to charge more. If $8,000 is still too much, they had the Prince II at $5,600, The King Tower for $3,900, The Queen II coming in at $1,800 and The Princess II priced at a scant $1,000. Stay tuned for more.
When it came to the “eyes-popping-out-of-head” experience, nothing in Vegas could outdo the amps being shown by Win Analog. They were playing their LS845a Vacuum Tube Preamplifier and WA833a Tube Monoblock Power Amplifiers. They look slightly retro-ham-radio, but also graceful. There is a touch of Art Deco perhaps. The LS845a uses two 12ax7 driving two 845 (yes, that’s right). It uses two EM84 as VU meters and one 5R4 “potato masher” voltage rectifier. It is direct-coupled (no capacitor) and has an output impedance of 300 ohms. $15,000 according to web site.
The WA833a really puts on a light show. The slightly cherry red plates of the huge 833 triode dominate the chassis. The 833 is driven by a triode strapped KT66. The input tube is a 12AU7 and two 3B28 tubes handle rectification chores. $28,000 according to web site.
Build quality is very good. The custom made tube sockets for the massive 833 look beefy enough to survive years of service. The machine work on the chassis was very well done. Win Analog states that all work is done in California. I didn’t get to hear as much as I would like in this room. However, the midband was very clear and soundstaging was well done.
That was all I managed to really hear the first day at CES. I was ready to decompress after an eventful day. Later that evening Dagogo writers joined Constantine for a nice meal. It was the first time most of us had met each other, but the chemistry was good and we had an enjoyable time.
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