Main Standout Demos
This section features our favorite demonstrations from CES 2010.

Ayre Acoustics

We first heard the Vandersteen Seven speakers at the Rocky Mountain Audio Fest (RMAF) last October in Denver and were bowled over by their precise, smooth, very-high-resolution sound. From what we could glean from the display at RMAF, they seemed capable of standard-setting midrange transparency and soundstage precision. But we were even more impressed here in Las Vegas in the Ayre Acoustics display.

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Anthony Gallo Acoustics

We gave Anthony Gallo Acoustics a Standout Demo award at CES 2009 for basically the exact same setup they had this year: a Resolution Audio CD player and transport, a Spectron amp, and Gallo's own Reference 3.5 loudspeakers. Even the placement is the same. The only difference was that last year's 3.5 was a prototype, and designer Anthony Gallo said that what we were listening to this year was done. The price has been set to $5900 per pair. Basically, not much new. But we liked this year's demo for two reasons.

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Wadia Digital

Wadia Digital was displaying a system based on their 151PowerDAC mini, which combines a DAC and integrated amplifier in a very compact form factor. They also used a new version of their 171iTransport, which features an improved power supply, more solid chassis-mounted connectors, a power indicator light, and official approval for use with the iPhone from Apple. The component sitting under the PowerDAC mini in the photos below is a prototype of a power-filtering unit that wasn't being used.

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Sumiko/Wolf Cinema

Wolf Cinema debuted their new DCL-200FD LED projector in the Sumiko suite. This LED projector is less expensive than their Xenon-based projectors and doesn't require the same ventilation system as models that use hot-running Xenon bulbs. The DCL-200FD is priced at $23,000 with an additional $10,000 for the VariScope FX lens system that was used with the demo system. It uses three LED elements with a Texas Instruments DarkChip3 DLP chip to generate the image.

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Magnepan

One of the more anticipated product introductions from this year’s CES was actually held at T.H.E. Show. Magnepan introduced the replacement for the long-praised MG1.6 with its new MG1.7. While it looks very similar, there are some significant changes that make the MG1.7 an even greater value.

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Paradigm/Anthem

It isn’t often that all of the products used in a home-theater demonstration come from a single source, but this was the case with the Paradigm/Anthem demo at CES 2010. All of the electronics and speakers used in this room came from the Canadian-based powerhouse manufacturer.

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April Music

April Music hails from South Korea, and they are the parent company behind two impressive brands shown in this room: Stello and Eximus. (April Music also owns Aura, but that was playing next door.)

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Nordost

One thing you have to love about Nordost: they don't do boring, passive demos at trade shows. If you walk into a Nordost demonstration, you may have to participate. At the very least, you have to pay attention in case you're asked a question. CES 2010 was no different. This wasn't simply a room to go into to listen to music; it was a room to visit in order to figure out just what matters to the sound.

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Boulder Amplifiers

Boulder Amplifiers produced one of the finest-sounding setups at CES, with their 1000-series components at the helm: a 1021 CD player ($24,000), 1012 preamplifier-DAC ($19,000, DAC section not used), and 1060 power amplifier ($24,000). (No analog was used during our visit, though the new $12,000 1008 phono stage and Spiral Groove turntable are featured in this photo.)

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VTL

We've heard TAD's Reference One loudspeakers ($60,000 per pair) at many shows, but never with VTL's equipment. The result in Las Vegas was thoroughly impressive -- deep, tight bass; superbly extended highs; and a midrange presentation so vivid and detailed that voices sounded lifelike.

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