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2009 CES & T.H.E Show Coverage 9, The Most of CES Part 2

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Most Monumental: Ypsilon Electronics and Rockport Technologies ▼

Ypsilon Electronics and Rockport Technologies

Two solid performers, the Ypsilon and Rockport combo was stunning. The word prodigious comes to mind recalling the prodigious nature of the Rockport Altair. The Altair struck me as monumental sounding, even though its cabinet appears sleek enough to disguise the fact that it is a hefty speaker. The trio of SET 100 amps were nearly the size of the Rockport speakers; well, ok, that’s a bit of exaggeration. Having spent some time with the Ypsilon CDT-100 player and the DAC-100 D/A converter I expected superb sound from these monstrous 120-Watt SET amps and I heard it.

Most Anticipated Update: Ayon Audio CD-2 ▼

 Ayon Audio CD-2

Ayon has several new products seen here: Polaris two-chassis preamp (upper left), Triton Integrated (upper right), and the Typhon monoblock amps flanking the new CD-2 player. The power conditioner is from Clarity Cable and the cabling is Echoe Cable.

Having spent plenty of time with first the CD-1 and then the CD-3, I know how good Ayon is at Redbook. I like what designer Gerhard Hirt is doing with his designs; I hear a vibrancy and beauty in this equipment. From the short time I was able to spend at the show listening to it, I am very interested in further exploration of the CD-2’s capabilities.

Most Pleasing Planars: KingSound’s The King and The Prince II ►

KingSound’s The King and The Prince II

There were two notable Electrostats: The Sanders Sound system at T.H.E. Show, and the King’s Audio “The King” speaker at CES. This newest comer to the planar party, King’s Audio, offered two versions of its heavy-hitter. The “King System” is a two-tower-per-channel full-range hybrid. The “King” (just to confuse things) is a full-range true electrostat. I spent enough time with the King and the Prince II to know that these speakers are special. They have gorgeous, deep and wide voices in sub-$10K packages.

King’s Audio has an entire “royal line” which includes the even more upscale tri-panel Emporer, the Prince II which falls just below The King, the Queen, Princess and their lowest model, the Peasant. Just kidding about the Peasant.

Most Gracious: Jeff Rowland Design Group ▼

Jeff Rowland Design Group

Demur, gentle, velvety… these are descriptors I would use to identify this room. Jeff had soft music caressing his visitors, as he strolled about answering questions. The new Criterion Preamplifier and model 312 Power Amp was in the system with the Thiel 3.7’s and Nordost cabling. No pretension or posturing; it was mature, refined audio. Having worked extensively with Rowland gear it was no surprise to me that it sounded sumptuous, and that the all SS rig did not sound brittle or etched in the least.
Jeff Rowland (right)▼

Most Difficult Integration with Room: Scaena Iso-Linear Array ▼

Scaena Iso-Linear Array

It is tough enough to get great sound when given fairly normal layout in a hotel room. Try getting acceptable results when half the system is in a different room!

The stackable subs were situated down in the lower half of the “bi-level” room; they can be seen peeking over the railing between the mid/high towers. I was impressed at how good the result was given the inconvenience of the situation. Scaena showed with VTL amplification, Nordost cables, and if I recall correctly, the dCS Scarlatti transport/ DAC combo along with Purcell Upsampler as source.

Most Intriguing Source: Acoustic Precision Diffusion’s NeoDio ►

Acoustic Precision Diffusion’s NeoDio

I love the rust orange tone cabinet of this transport/DAC combo. I also love what it sounded like with the Lamm amplification and Wilson speakers. It had an analogue sensibility to it not seen to such a degree in many CD players. This was one room I sat in for an extended session, as the sound was intoxicating.

Eliana Lamm shared with me that NeoDio is a French concern looking for distribution in the U.S. I certainly hope they find it, as the player struck me as eminently engaging.

Most Svelte System: Lamm/Wilson/Acoustic Precision Diffusion ▼

Lamm/Wilson/Acoustic Precision Diffusion

I may as well keep gushing about this room, as I’ve already complimented the NeoDio digital source. Lamm, known for its exquisite amps, showed the ML3 Signature and ML 2.1 mono amps with Kubala Sosna cabling to the Wilson Maxx Series 3; this combination and set up was stunning! I have heard the Wilson products before on several occasions and their form was as good as I have heard from them.

There was no slouching, no second-class about this rig. The monotone black color of the amps and speaker evoke from me an oxymoron, “austere decadence” – no frills, just serious opulence. One of my favorite sounds at the show.

Most Inscrutable: Da Vinci Audio Virtu Speakers ▼

 Da Vinci Audio Virtu Speakers

There is little conventional about these speakers, as they are described on the Da Vinci site as being, “half-active,” and having field-coil drivers and cones decoupled from the baskets! An unorthodox design with an atypical sound, the Virtu’s looks are also intriguing, as the open-backed cabinet is asymmetrical. A true enthusiast’s speaker!

Most Compelling Monitor: Symposium Acoustics Reflection ▼

Symposium Acoustics Reflection

I am not often wowed by smaller monitors, as I feel they give up too much in the bottom-end and size of soundstage. However, I was moved by the performance of this one by Symposium, which is in development, showing with AMR’s CD-77 player, the Emotive Audio E-Linear Integrated and cabling from Essential Sound Products and Siltech.

The Symposium belied its size with impressive bass output. Coupled with similar planar magnetic drivers to the flagship Panorama speaker system, its sense of scale caught me off guard. I find it interesting that both the Magnepan “Mini Mag” and the Symposium Reflection utilize smaller magnetic planar elements and both were compelling in their unique fashion.

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