Publisher Profile

CES 2014 – Most Interesting Rooms

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Audio Arts

Audio Arts is the importer for Zellaton speakers as well as Trinity, Koda and CH Precision electronics. At the time that I visited the room they were playing the Zellaton speakers with the CH Precision electronics using a Sperling turntable and Durand tone arm. The sound was remarkable with excellent depth, imaging and focus. Tonality on vinyl was spot on. The top end was extended and clear without any brightness or glare.

Audio Note of Japan/ Kondo

Audio Note of Japan - Kondo - B&W 801 speakers at CES 2014

Audio Note of Japan – Kondo – B&W 801

Audio Note of Japan - Kondo - B&W at CES 2014

Kondo at CES 2014

The only real surprise here was the their use of B&W 801 speakers rather than their own. This represented what I would consider very nice tube based sound with all the associated positives. Resolution was somewhat less than that offered in some of the other rooms but tonality was again very accurate. The top end was a bit soft and transients somewhat truncated. The amps did a nice job of controlling the bass; however, I would like to have heard the Kondo electronics on a more revealing speaker or at least one better mated to the tube electronics.

Acapella/ Einstein/ Technodas

Acapella - Einstein - Technodas at CES 2014

Acapella Atlas speakers at CES 2014

Acapella Atlas speakers

Technodas Air Force One turntable at CES 2014

Technodas Air Force One turntable

The system was comprised of the latest versions of the Einstein preamp, OTL amplifiers and CD player, the Acapella Atlas speakers and Acapella cabling, the Technodas Air Force One turntable with a Graham arm and Einstein cartridge which is built for them by Ortofon. The sound was delicate, extended and very extended at the top. The amps did an excellent job of controlling the dynamic woofers of the speakers. The designer of the speakers (Herman Winters) explained that unlike some of Acapella’s earlier speakers, the Atlas presents an 8 ohm load from 20 to 20,000 HZ which presents an ideal load to the OTL amplifiers. This certainly seemed to be the case. There was a bit of stridency with massed voices during very loud passages which suggests that more power would have been beneficial. While the sound was good with digital media, it really came alive when vinyl was played. Particularly nice was Paul Simon’s Graceland and All Electric by the Roy Herrington Band. “Tin Pan Alley” from Stevie Ray Vaughn’s Couldn’t Stand the Weather (Epic 25940) was also quite stunning as was Albert King’s I Want to Get Funky (STS 5505).

Kharma/ DCS

Kharma - DCS at CES 2014

Kharma was playing their DB Elf 5 (the largest speaker in their Elegance line) with their Exquisite electronics and a DCS Vivaldi Transport and DAC. The room clearly had bass response problems but the speakers were otherwise quite nice. Detail and imaging were excellent. Piano was good but not really great. The speakers set a nice stage but there was not much depth. Triangles were nicely produced with a good leading edge but the tail was somewhat truncated. These speakers were capable of producing very deep bass with exceptional power.

Most Interesting Rooms (THE Show)

THE Show was held at the Flamingo and was smaller than in past years with noticeably fewer exhibitors; however, the mood was upbeat and the staff were friendly and enthusiastic.

Merrill/ Zesto/ TAD/ Wy Wires

Most of you are already aware of the Zesto preamp and phono stage and have seen the reviews in Dagogo. The new product at the show was their BIA 120 class A amps which are priced at $12,500. Likewise, the Merrill turntable has garnered much praise here and elsewhere as have the Wy Wires. The sound of combining these products in one system was excellent and extremely cost effective. In fact I would be tempted to say that this would be a superb entry to high end for anyone. We listened initially to Steely Dan’s Gaucho followed by Acoustic Sounds re-issue of that RCA warhorse Scherazade. String tone was excellent.


You will note that there are no pictures of Magnepan’s newest speakers which were concealed behind a scrim. Reviewers were asked to guess the price of the speaker. The winner would accompany Magnepan after the show to a ceremony donating the speakers and associated electronics to the Wounded Warrior’s Project which would presumably sell the equipment and use the money appropriately. My son is a captain in the Marines and I have a soft spot in my heart for Wounded Warriors. The new speakers have phenomenal bass and dynamics. Tonality was also very good. There was a bit of smear on cymbals but I would attribute that to the electronics. Imaging was a bit diffuse but the speakers created a nice stereo spread. Given the performance I would have guessed that I was listening to one of their more expensive speakers. As yet, the speakers remain a mystery. When I questioned Wendell Diller he did say that the new speaker did not contain special capacitors or magic wire so that any improvements were solely the result of technological advances.



What can you really say about a speaker that sells for $6950 that has not already been said? There is a great deal of competition at this price point and many good products, all of which involve inherent tradeoffs. In this case the designer was one of the founders of Ede Electronics who had a number of innovative designs. The cabinet is relatively large, solidly built and veneered with a wood finish. The tweeter is a proprietary dual neodymium magnet 30 mm textile dome. The woofer employs a composite cone consisting of Egyptian papyrus and other materials and handles the region below 2600 HZ. There are two switches on the rear panel, one governs where the tweeter begins its roll off: one position is flat the other a 2 db roll off per octave beginning at 16K. The second switch which the designer calls “presence” affects the midrange. The speaker is ported but has response into the mid 20’s. All of this would be academic except that the speaker actually sounds very good, with low distortion, well controlled bass, nice top end extension and no bass boom. Female voices and piano were nicely handled. The speaker does best with a solid state amp.

Final Thoughts

If I were asked to choose my two favorite rooms, they would be at widely disparate ends of the price spectrum. At the lower end of the price spectrum would be the Triode Corporation/ Acoustic Zen. Kronos Turntable system which at $70,000 was sounding better than other systems at three times to price. At the other end of the price spectrum was the tour de force Marten Supreme II system driven by Pass Xs series electronics which was clearly and by a rather wide margin the best sound I heard. In terms of products I would love to hear in my own system, there are many but near the top of the list are two turntables, the Technodas and the Kronos Sparta.

One Response to CES 2014 – Most Interesting Rooms

  1. Glen says:

    Thanks for the tour. So nice to see and dream of such fine components.

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