Full Report Coverage by Contributor
Mike Masztal at the Howard Johnson Special Exhibit
Although not part of the official CES, this site had some fine systems from some of the smaller companies. In my experience, many of the finest products come from small companies who arent driven by the idea of product diversity. For those who missed it this year, make sure you get to the off-site show next year.
Scientific Fidelity, Digital Entertainment Systems (DES) and Placete shared rooms. The first room was a bit strange. With lights out, they played some sound effects, reportedly to demo the $1,800 Sceptre speakers. The soundstage was quite deep and detailed. After the lights came on, I was shown that the sound came from the $5,000 24-K Signature speakers facing each other eight feet apart and intersecting about four feet in front of me. Kind of weird, but they got their point across. The second room sported the Placete preamp and DES CD player mated with the $20,000 Apparition DAC, and $5,000 Scientific Fidelity Trillium ampall played through the $3,000 24 Karat Joule loudspeakers. This was some of the best sound I heard while at the Show.
Argent, Berning, and Rosinante shared a room featuring the nearly $12,000 Rosinante Gabrielle speaker, the $5,750 Berning Seigfried 811 amp, and Argent Room Lens. CD source was an Audio Alchemy transport going through the Elise DAC, a prototype design by David Gill. Each Room Lens is reported to work like a broadband Helmholtz resonator. Again, very fine sound reproduction that filled the room.
Greybeard, a new speaker company, had their $5,500 KB/2/2 two-way stand-mounted speaker. The stand is integrated into the speaker cabinet and contains the front-firing port. The crossover is placed in the stand to isolate it from vibration. Finish comes in two choices, black tile or black slate, and each speaker/stand combination weighs in at 110 pounds. Using ScanSpeak drivers, this speaker showed off an excellent representation of space and impressive soundstage.
Montana displayed their huge $15,000 XP floorstanding speaker. Using a Sony XA7-ES CD player going through a Threshold T2 preamp, DAC2 DAC and T800D amp, the XPs put out some solid sound, handling dynamics quite well.
Wisdom Audio had two rooms showcasing their Adrenaline systems, including the new $14,000 (estimated price) Tom Thumb system. Resembling the Monopole 50, the Tom Thumb system uses a 10-inch bass driver (with the same motor assembly as the 12-inch unit) and 40-inch ribbon. Running through Krell KAV components, the speakers achieved the sort of excellent sound Ive experienced from others in the Wisdom Audio line. The big brother Adrenaline 75s were driven by four Aronov monoblocks and Aronov preamp. The sound was great.
Art Audio and Metropolis got an expansive soundstage from the $5,500 Art Audio Diavolo amplifier using VV32B tubes played over the $4,000 Metropolis Imagination speakers (which resemble the JMlabs 6.1, but with better cabinet construction and crossover). Digital source was an RCA DVD player. A very synergistic combination.
Edgarhorn was getting some musical sound from the $5,500 System 75 Plus mated with the $3500 subwoofer. Mons Audio Labs provided amplification with the $2,295 300B OTL amp. This system played loudly and cleanly, but you should know that the system is the size of three 21-cubic-foot refrigerators.
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