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CES

2017 CES Report, Part 1

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Golden Ear

My old friend Sandy Gross was showing off his latest and most expensive speaker, the Triton Reference ($8,500/pair). Considering his Triton One Tower was a bargain at just under $5k, I was expecting a lot for the extra $3,500 and I have to say I was not disappointed. It had an impressive bottom end, smooth mids and a clean top end. No splash, good depth (but I would have liked a deeper sound stage) and good overall tonal balance.

When he switched to a choral recording, the overall smoothness of the voices stood out. Impressive sound but the big question is whether it is worth the extra $3,500 over the Triton One. For me, I would rather have a pair of Triton Ones and spend the difference on supporting equipment. But hey, that is just my opinion. If you have the extra money and think you need the extra low end or you have an extremely large room, then the difference may make sense.

 

Dayton Audio

I am very familiar with Dayton Audio, but I always thought it was simply the private label line for Parts Express because that is the only company that sells the line of drivers. They were showing their CBT-24, a rather bizarre looking thin tower loudspeaker that arches back. CBT stands for Constant Bandwidth Transducer. It uses 24 3-1/2″ Aluminum Cone Full-Range Drivers set up in groups of eight. The bottom eight are full range, the next eight are damped down 3.5db, and the top eight are damped down 8db to reduce bounce off the ceiling.

“Fanfare for the Common Man” was smooth but the bass really needs equalization or the addition of a woofer system. I also felt it had a limited top end. Personally, I think this system really needs tweeters. I would pull 3 or 4 of the speakers out and replace them with ribbon tweeters and give the system the open top end I personally prefer. But the system is a good buy at only $2,000 per pair assembled ($1,000 as a kit). I am not the proprietor of good taste, so it will come down to personal choice. I see this as a hard sell in the WAF (wife acceptance factor) department.

 

Audioengine

Audio Engine is known for their wireless technology as well as producing some very popular amplified speakers. They were showing their new HD-3 3” 2-way 30w/ch speakers with built-in class AB amp and headphone and RCA (w/high pass) outputs. This allows them to connect with a sub-woofer and make a complete system. The speakers have a somewhat limited top end, but still represent a good value and a very flexible product for their retail of $400/pair.

 

Elac

Andrew Jones was demonstrating his latest speaker design for Elac. His new Adante is an 8” tower speaker designed to be more like the TAD line he designed for Pioneer. Priced at only $2,500 per pair, they are significantly more expensive than his first designs for Elac. In the past year, Audio Alchemy merged with Elac, so the new Adante line is meant to marry the two brands more closely. Driving the speakers in a bi-amp configuration was the Alchemy stack of DD-1 preamp, DPA-1 stereo amp, DPA-1M monoblocks, DMP-1 Digital Media Player, and PS-5 power supply upgrade.

I listened to Bill Cantos “When I Fall in Love” and the piano was practically in the room with us. The pace and tempo of the system was equally convincing. The voice appeared from a still background and the high end was very convincing. Overall a distinctively High End system at half the price you would expect to pay.

 

Klipsch

For those of you who remember them, the three-way Forte was first introduced in 1985 and manufactured by Klipsch until 1989. Now, almost 30 years later, Klipsch has brought back the Forte as the Forte III, priced at $3,600 a pair. They have totally redesigned the speaker with big improvements, including switching to the new Tractrix™ Horn tweeter, up-sizing to a 15” rear firing passive resonator, a pulp cone woofer and upgraded bi-wireable cross-over. The net results make for huge improvements in the sonic character of the speaker. They were demonstrating the new Fortes with a Cary Audio SLI-80 Signature KT-88 based tube integrated amp, with a Cayin SCD-50T CD player. I listened to Stanton Moore’s “Conversations” and they were way better than what I remember from listening to the originals. I have to admit I really didn’t like the sound of the originals. What I remember is they sounded honky and nasal. The new MKIIIs were surprisingly smooth and detailed with out any of that nasality and horny quality. Piano had good attack without any harsh overtones. The bass track was well centered and voices appeared well above the top of the speakers. Symbols and the High-hat were not splashy at all. I did find  the sound a little too soft, but I attribute that to the Cary, not the Klipsch.

 

[End of Part 1]

Click here for Part 2

 

Copy editor: Dan Rubin

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