February 15, 2003
Ultra Audio Goes to CES 2003: Part Two
The final day
The final day of CES 2003 had me scurrying about the Las Vegas Convention Center trying to beat the clock and hoping not to miss my 4:30 p.m. flight back home. A quick stop at Krell Industries found a new line of loudspeakers, the Resolution Series, on static display. They range in price from $3500 for the RS-3, a two-way bookshelf with an 8" driver, up to $9500 for the dual-10" RS-1.
Krell also showed their new SACD Standard. At $4000 in black or silver, the SACD Standard is sure to fly off the shelves upon its April release. Keep your eyes peeled; the new additions to the Krell lineup may well find their way into an Ultra Audio system for review.
Earthquake Sound Corporation subwoofers had a great little trick going on. Their MKIV-15 subwoofer ($2999) was being driven to 120dB by a 14Hz signal. The sight of those longest-of-long-throw drivers pulsing and convulsing without the slightest hint of strain was extremely entertaining.
After a quick stint behind the wheel of a Mercedes E500 that was on display, I had to drag myself away and call it a day. In the end, the majority of what I saw and heard really surprised me. The high end seems to be alive and kicking despite the recent economic woes. There was an abundance of good sound to be heard, extraordinary sound in some rooms, and in the case of the Wisdom Audio room, the best sound I have ever heard. To wrap up this year's report, here is Ultra Audios Best-of-CES list:
Best Sound: Cost No Object
Nothing even came close to Wisdom Audio.
Best Sound: Cost Some Object
For the second year running, Andy Payer and his Rockport Antares speakers ($40,000/pair) prove that nice guys (and great speakers) really can finish first.
Best New Discovery (three-way tie)
The Chateau Research Inc. Uniwave ANACO 2 digital mono amplifiers ($12,000/pair) provided a glimpse into the future of digital amplification done right. The Dali Euphonia MS4 speakers ($7500/pair), elegant and beautifully designed, held me in their grasp for nearly two hours. DiMarzio M-Path interconnects ($150/meter pair) and High-Definition speaker wire ($250/eight-foot pair) were ultra cheap, ultra good, ultra audio.
Most Fun Had
Watching movies after-hours in Wisdom Audios private suite was a treat. All in attendance were in rare form, displaying an abundance of wise-ass remarks.
Missing in Action
Multichannel music demos were few and far between. For all the hoopla and ink spilled over the last few years in the name of multichannel audio, stereo still rules the roost. Could my opinion that multichannel music is merely a curiosity stay afloat upon the sea of hype for yet another year?
Coolest Thing with Springs
New to the States via Sweden, the Solid Tech Rack of Silence (price TBA) is flat-out the coolest-of-all-cool component stand. Having only a limited amount of space, I cannot begin to describe the Rack of Silence aesthetics. I will say this: The Rack of Silence will never be confused with any ordinary rack. An Ultra must-have.
Must-Have Ultra Components (four-way tie)
The Avalon Acoustics Eidolon Diamond loudspeakers ($35,000/pair): Having lived with the Avalon Radian for the last eight years, the newest addition to the line has me praying for a chance to listen to the latest brainchild of Neil Patel and the Avalon Acoustics team in more familiar surroundings. With its diamond tweeter, the Eidolon Diamond may just be the speaker of my dreams.
All the Gryphon Audio components: From what I heard, anything with the winged lion on its faceplate is welcome in my system.
The JMLab Nova Utopia loudspeakers ($35,000/pair): They were only on static display, yet the Nova Utopias, with the new beryllium tweeter, will more than likely take the already killer lineup to the next level.
Finally, the new Linn Unidisk 1.1 universal audio/video player ($8000): This one is due to make its market debut in March, and I will be first in line, shamelessly begging and pleading for a crack at the schizophrenic little front-end from Scotlands first son of audio, Ivor Tiefenbrun.
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