Publisher Profile

2010 CES Coverage 8

Usher Audio/JPS Labs cables/Power Modules, Sonus Faber/ Rel/Audio Research, Gradient, Atacama Stands, Conrad-Johnson, Shunyata, Benchmark/Studio Electric

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Usher Audio/JPS Labs cables/Power Modules(David Belles)

There was quite good sound coming from this room. I sat down and could relax to the excellent recordings from the folks at Puget Sound Studios using some of the highest sampling rates available. I’m less enamoured with the techno-babble and more interested in the results, and the Usher room was already one of the best at CES even though they were still not fully set-up when I went in. My intention was to go back but I simply ran out of time. I auditioned the system with their big BE-10 Loudspeakers ($16,560/pr, the outer pair pictured below). The result was impressive indeed.

Sonus Faber/ Rel/Audio Research

These are three stacked Rel G1 subwoofers for each Sonus Faber Stradivari to add considerable bass.
These are the Audio Research Ref 610t monoblocks rated at 600 watts per channel.
Some big sound in a big room here with a large stage. Some slight treble hash was noticeable and while there was deep bass, it wasn’t quite as dynamic as some of the best rooms at the show. Integrating the subs with the main speakers may have been the culprit as the ear is drawn to different areas making both stand out rather than being completely coherent. Nevertheless, I enjoyed the music being played in this room. The Stradivari is a refined, classy sounding speaker that I have heard a few times over the years. Even here not at its best it never sounded poor.

Gradient Helsinki 1.5

Unfortunately, at the time I was in this room they were not playing any music. Still, they look quite intriguing and it’s an excuse to make another CES or RMAF trip to take a listen.

Atacama Stands

What a great idea. Why not have some stands that serve the purpose while looking cool. Would this help the wife acceptance factor?

Conrad Johnson

They were on static display

The Hydra V-Ray on static display.

Benchmark/Studio Electric
It’s fun to be surprised. Walking into this room there is absolutely nothing that visually impresses you. Sure, the cute little eyeball speakers in the Cabasse-like appearance but all too often the cute stuff sounds poor. Not with Studio Electric and Benchmark. I was unfamiliar with the speakers but if Benchmark decided to use them so I figured there must be something to them. I sat and listened and was impressed in a not “impressive” way. The sound was unforced natural and rather beautiful. Male vocals (Sinatra) was stellar – everything was coherent, the right amount of detail but not in a hit-you-over-the-head sort of way. The designer’s goal was to make a speaker that lacked irritation and that you could just play your tunes and enjoy – he succeeded. This is a small outfit and I get the impression they build to order. This goes to show that the massive makers don’t necessarily rule the day. They look nice and they have a seductive sound with their own amplification and Benchmark’s Digital front-end. Speakers are $7,900 and one of the best I heard at the show around this price.

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