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CES

2012 CES, Part VI

Accuphase, Vandersteen, Avantgarde, ESS, Genesis, Kingsound, Legacy, MartinLogan, Musical Surroundings, Qualia, Scientific Fidelity, Telwire, Triode, HiFiMan

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The Accuphase room was sounding warm and lush with the equipment complemented by the excellent Focal Scala Utopia Speakers.

The Vandersteen room was touting Richard Vandersteen’s latest creation, the entry-level Treo. These sounded very well balanced and threw a huge soundstage. The AMG Benz turntable from Musical Surroundings that was playing in this room was one found in a few excellent sounding rooms. This is probably not a coincidence.

The huge Avantgarde speakers pulled a disappearing act despite their size.

A blast from the 70’s re-emerged to make a statement. ESS, the original Heil Air Motion Transformer speaker is back and with a full line of speakers. This room was truly difficult acoustically, but I look forward to exploring these speakers in the future.

Genesis was showing their new G7.2f speakers. These are a $9k-pair entry-level speaker that stick to the Genesis formula of delivering big full sound through the use of integrated active servo-controlled bass units s and their famous ring ribbon tweeter.

Electronics were Genesis and the SMC preamplifier from Steve McCormack. The turntable is the now-very-familiar Funk Firms turntable that seemed to have been the go-to choice for many at the show.

Kingsound had a separate room on their own where they showed several different models of their electrostatic speakers. The full range electrostatic King III was sporting new feet that are said to stabilize the speaker better than ever.

A surprising entry is the new entry-level diminutive Queen III electrostatic hybrid. At $4,000/pair retail, they were sounding particularly good through the MBL equipment. The footing designed for these seemed a little bizarre for panels but it seemed to work well.

Another interesting little entry from Kingsound is the Princess II electrostatic hybrid bookshelf. Unfortunately, it was only in static display so I did not get a chance to hear it, but at something less than $2k/pair, they certainly are intriguing.

Legacy and Ayon were rocking the house in a relatively small room with the Legacy Focus SE and the Legacy Whisper.

In a demonstration of contrasts and “family values”, MartinLogan was showing their top-of-the-line full range CLX Art electrostatic alongside the newly released, diminutive Martin Logan Motion 40 speakers. It was clear that there was a deep family resemblance in their sound despite the presumed cost differential . The CLX’s are $25,000, and the Motion 40s are $1,900 the pair.

Over at the Musical Surroundings exhibit, all of us analog geeks were abuzz over the new AMG turntable by Benz Micro which included some very useful features such as a built-in bubble level and what appeared to be dial-up VTA built into the tonearm board/pod. It was shown with the Graham Phanton Supreme and the new Benz Glider SL cartridge.

Qualia electronics, the Spiral Groove turntable and VTL’s MB450 Series III monoblocks teamed up to yield a great sounding room. The speakers are the “Allegra” from Sonics.

Scientific Fidelity was seemingly back in the game and showing the very cool Trillium amplifier, Aurora DAC, Irene Preamp, and the Style-Lust /Crown-Joule speakers.

Telwire was in static display an the Venetian.

Triode teamed up with Acoustic Zen to produce some lush sounds.

Over at “The Zoo” (CES main floor), HiFiMan was showing their excellent sounding planar magnetics -based headphones with a full complement of electronics, including a vacuum tube amplifier.

That’s about it for me for this year. Certainly this picture over at the “zoo” kind puts it all into perspective. CES is a real work out.

This was my first venture to the CES in many, many years and I think I am cured for a while. This truly is a world unto itself that is completely detached from reality. This picture I snapped from my hotel bedroom pretty much says it all. (INSERT Hotel-Room-View).

I will not miss the wall of cigarette smoke that assaults the senses upon entry to any hotel casino or stairwell. I will certainly not miss the pressing crowds of people wherever I ventured either. Sure, there is a level of excitement around the new gadgets and toys, but well, I’m over it! I guess I’m at an age where I think I can satisfy my audiophile jones with the regional shows instead.

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