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CES

2011 CES Show Report IV

Marten/EAR, Pen Audio, PSI Audio

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Marten/EAR

I walked into this room by mistake, and what a wonderful mistake it was. Though I did not hear the smaller system in the room, pictured above, the larger system was fantastic. The smaller system comprised of the EAR Acuete III CDP, EAR V12 integrated amplifier, and Marten Duke standmounts.

The larger system, Marten Getz, EAR/Technics 1500 Tape Deck, EAR 890 amp, and 912 per amp with laptop (sorry didn’t get the DAC) playing from iTunes with no mods. This was fantastic to listen to – not because the sound – it did sound well worth the money, but we were able to hear a variety of different sample rates and masters of the same Beatles cut. From 16bit lossless, 24bit remasters lossless, 24 bit rips from the original tape, and from the tape deck itself. It was interesting to hear the different level of detail and staging each format brought to the game. The analog, 24bit, and rip from the original tapes all sounded more natural, relaxed, and a bit more on the physical level of the speakers. The sound seemed to stay with the speakers. The 16bit CD version popped out and was in your face, as well as being less detailed. Fantastically it was good to hear it, as these younger ears, having listened for years to distortion and noise music, could hear more detailed in the distortion between the tape rips and 24 bit remaster, while the guy who owned what was demoing couldn’t really pick it out. Hey, not all distortion is the same! Anyhow, it was a great time, a great demo and I have a lot of respect for EAR and continued respect for Marten speakers. I didn’t hear as much variety in any other room at CES. And the only change was the source.

Sorry, I don’t have much to say here other than I finally got a great photo of the best looking amplifier I’ve never heard. This is a true combination of music and art. What a fantastic piece of equipment that I bet would look sick driving some of these Pen Audio Speaker I heard in the Pen Audio room.

Pen Audio

After the show on Friday night I was at an event – which honestly was kind of boring and the music was tamer than tame – but I had a long and very interesting conversation with another audiophile who was more interested in how good a system you can make without running out a 2nd or 3rd mortgage on your house. He suggested, based off my experience with the PMC TB2i speakers (read review here), that I give these a listen. I was very happy he did.

The Pen Audio Cenya speakers I heard were paired with the slick looking Sonneteer Morpheus music center. A sleek and modern looking music center, with integrated 100W digital amplifier, with unfortunately a horrid looking component stand, but thankfully it can be separated from the stand and placed on a shelf or table top. Simple design of the Sonneteer Morpheus and Pen Cenya speakers worked very well together. Though I bet if you paired the Cenya speakers with the Pathos amplifier above you’d have car wrecks in the hallways of the Venetian. Anyways, the sound from these misleading speakers was very large, smooth, detailed and produced bass with authority. I say misleading only because from the front on profile you can’t tell how deep these boxes are. When you hear the bass at first you have to say what? How did you get that clean and big a bass out of such a small box? But in fact it is fairly deep when viewed from the side. Hopefully we’ll have a full review of these speaker here on Dagogo in the next couple months.

PSI Audio

Tim from Simplifi Audio was showing another innovative speaker. An active floorstander? Really? And with some fancy engineering to correct for phase issues. They sounded very nice. Punchy and dynamic with rock and crystal clear. They were being run off the Resolution Audio Cantata music server – by far the best looking server I’ve sent to date. Made in Switzerland, the Master A215-M do a lot of things well, but can be pushed to their limits and the dynamics can collapse with seriously complex music that ask a lot from a speaker. Continuously rolling drums and blasting horns, can ask a bit too much for 5 ¼ drivers. Other than that the speakers did so many other things right. Plus the ‘sweet spot’ is huge. You can be sitting a seat off, sit up, and you’ll hear almost the same thing you’ll hear in the center. Back and to the left a couple seats, stand up, and it sound basically the same as closer. I think these, with a cross over and sub, would be fantastic in a 5.1 set up for your home theater. They had a clean and detailed solid state sound that may border more along the lines of what you’d hear in a mastering studio than in a tube driven audiophile system. That made vocal and lyrics easy to discern. A deep black background and super fast high transients. Well worth an audition if you get a chance.

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