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CES

2012 CES, Part VII

Brodmann Acoustics, Purist Audio Design / Stah-Tek / Peak Consult, Kingsound, Von Gaylord, Episode Audio, George Warren Audio, Koon, Zesto Audio

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Brodmann Acoustics

As my friend Ron and I were approaching the Brodmann Acoustic room at the end of the hallway, we thought a piano manufacturer had piggy-back ridden the show to exhibit pianos. The presentation was so realistic that it was mistaken for a life-sized grand piano.

As we entered the room, it occurred to me that the Brodmann speakers resembled closely to the Bösendorfer speakers. DI Bernd Gruhn (Division Manager of Brodmann) explained that the Brodmann speakers are designed by the same gentleman (Hans Deutsch) who designed the Bösendorfer speakers.

The JB-155 is the lower model in the company’s flagship Joseph Brodmann series, it retails for $55,000 the pair.

Model VC-7 shown with two speaker drives in the front and piano black finish, retails for $24,900. The smaller model, Festival F2 with a single driver in front, retails for $8,900.

Purist Audio Design / Stah-Tek / Peak Consult

Purist Audio Design is one of my favorite cable brands. They are one of a few companies (the others being Siltech or Stealth cables) which employs alloys for their conductors rather than just simple copper, silver, or plated variations of such.

They have cables in every price category, starting with the $175 Vesta 1m RCA cables, to the $30,000 per pair, Purist Audio Design 25th Anniversary Bi-wire speaker cables.

Sharing the room with Purist Audio Design is Stah-Tek and Peak Consult Speaker. The setup was making nice sounds with the Stah-Tek Opus CDT ($37,000), the Opus DAC ($35,000), the Vitus RI-100 Amplifier ($ 12,000), and the Peak Consult speakers.

Kingsound

Kingsound celebrates their 10th year anniversary with the release of the KS-10, 10th year anniversary edition full range electrostatic loudspeaker ($29,000). The low frequencies on the KS-10 extends to 28 Hz, on paper this is much lower than the Martin Logan CLS which dips down to 45 Hz. You will probably need a very powerful amplifier to drive these as the sensitivity is rated at 81 dB. Still, the KS-10 seems to be doing well with just 100W coming out of the Jadis Defy 7.

At the opposite end of the room, they were showing the Price III ($8,000), and the smaller Queen III ($4,000). Sensitivity is 83 dB and 84 dB respectively.

Von Gaylord

One of the most impressive sounding setup I discovered at the T.H.E Show belongs to the Von Gaylord room. Ray Leung of Von Gaylord audio was giving me a full demonstration of his new Uni monoblock power amplifiers ($12,000/pr). Using only four KT120 tubes per channel, the Uni is capable of delivering 180W of power which makes them one of the most powerful triode amplifier on the market. Ray further explains that because the tubes are biased very conservatively, they are expected to last approximately 10 years, they run so cool during operation that you can even lay your hands on them. We have the picture to prove it.

“Are you ready for a full demo as to how powerful the bass can get?”, said Ray.

Both my friend and I were caught off guard by the bass drum track which ensued, it literally knocked us off the chair! The bass was powerful, clean, tight, and chest pounding. If I didn’t know these are tube amps, I would have guessed the sound was coming from a very powerful solid state amplifier. The transient response on the Uni is almost as fast as transistor amps, and yet they retain that smooth and silky presentation which normally comes from lower power tube amps. If you are looking for a powerful tube amp which combines the best of both solid state and tube characteristics, the Uni KT-120 may just be your ticket to nirvana. I like the system so much that I have asked Ray Leung for a review sample, so watch for my review on the Uni KT120 together with the Uni Preamp.

Connected to the Uni Monoblocks, was a pair of the New Legend speaker system. They are called a “Speaker System” because they are actually two speakers stacked on top of each other. The top unit called “The Legend” ($12,999), is a two-way bookshelf speaker rated with a sensitivity of 91 dB. The bottom unit, called the VG-1 ($5,999) houses a 10-inch bass driver also rated at 91 dB. The rest of the system includes the Uni Preamp ($12,000), the Uni Digital DAC ($9,995), and the Von Gaylord “Live Performance” power line conditioner ($4,500).

Episode Audio

The Episode 5 speakers ($12,500) features a recessed tweeter sandwiched in between two driver units firing directly at each other in the vertical position. According to the designer, the forward firing design of conventional speakers is by nature directional and limited in dispersion pattern. By incorporating an upward and downward firing speaker driver, the Episode is able to achieve a much wider dispersion pattern over a wide frequency range.

One of the biggest regrets I had at the T.H.E Show was that I was running out of time to cover all the rooms which I wanted to visit. I regret not spending more time in the Episode as I believe they truly have an innovative product on display but my time was cut short due to a lunch appointment so I did not get the chance to listen to them in detail.

George Warren Audio

George Warren’s Precision Sound turntable was found in a few different rooms at T.H.E Show. Price at $4,500, the table comes with loads of features. The tables comes with an acrylic platter with ten separate chambers which are filled with an equal number of lead shots. The massive platter spins on a polished stainless bearing which is in contact with a sleeve of UHMD polyethylene, which eliminates the need for metal-to-metal contact. The table is powered by a Maxon DC motor, and the speed controller monitors the platter speed automatically. The table even comes with a Rega 301 tonearm.

Koon

For $13,900, you can take home this cocoon shaped speaker named “Cokoon”, made by Koon in Japan. The Cokoon can be ordered in other colors with an upcharge of $600. The speaker is rated at 86 dB sensitive and has a power handling of 300W.

In case you are wondering about the dimensions, each Cokoon unit is slightly larger than a basketball.

Zesto Audio

Over a casual dinner conversation with fellow reviewer Ray Seda, he was raving about Zesto Audio’s Andros PS-1 phono stage and said I must go back to check it out.

At $3,900, the Andros comes with loads of features. Inspired by one of RCA’s tube circuit designs from the 1930s, the PS-1 uses two 12AX7 tubes per channel to provide 45 dB of gain for the MM stage, all without using negative feedback. The MC stage provide 65 dB of gain, through the use of an internal step-up transformer as the first gain stage. A switch at the back of the unit provides the user with seven load impedance choices. The unit even comes with the choice of Balanced or RCA inputs.

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