International CES 2009
& THE Show Report
Meridian presented a concert video that captivated me for several moments. They were also touting their award winning sooloos server. While I prefer to ride behind the cutting edge of home theater and surround sound, this presentation certainly got me thinking about how much fun it would be to combine my interest in live recordings with video in the family room at home. They also had on display their 810 Video Reference projector with D-ILA technology from JVC, I believe. This projector is large enough for you to share your movies with the entire neighborhood if you use your garage door as a screen. Now there's a thought! Why confine yourself to an indoor home theater when you could turn the whole street into a Drive-In? Parental guidance advised, of course.
Moving from the Megabuck to the Minibuck, I stopped into the
Polk Audio room for a Real World
taste of Blue Man Group, listening to their Surround Bar 360 with an AM/FM
receiver and built-in CD/DVD player with HDMI input designed to produce a
synthesized surround experience from a size zero footprint — it is light
enough to place on a wall shelf. It produces a full range sound without a
subwoofer. Like a folding chair for extra guests at the Thanksgiving table,
this solution makes a lot of sense for a lot of people. I was genuinely
impressed. It was not the measure of the
Occasionally I would stumble into an OEM supplier's room. SB Acoustics, a vertically integrated company impressed with their 15-inch honeycomb paper woofer and a ring radiator tweeter with a dimple rather than a pointed cone in the center. They make virtually everything in the drivers.
I found a very interesting looking tube amp that combines elements of aluminum and glass from TAC. It is made by Vincent for distribution in Europe. It uses a 6L6 tube (replacement for EL34) and has auto-bias circuitry.
Pulserod System, an active line stage type loudspeaker with an active
subwoofer, all passing through an external DQEX digital crossover with room
correction definitely fell into the bling category for me being machined out
of billet aluminum. All you have to do is add a source, which in this case was
an Esoteric CD player.
PS Audio Power Plant Premiers cleansed the electricity. The
harmonica music playing when I was in the room was extremely precise and
probably dead accurate, but I had the feeling I would quickly tire of the
precision sound. The loudspeaker system goes for $110,000. I
heard a very pleasant Experience One headphone amp from Trafomatic
In the Angelis Labor
room I met up with Jean-Pierre Boudreau
of Gemme Audio in
Two doors down I had the pleasure of meeting Andy
Payor again and we reminisced about my impromptu visit many summers
ago when I got to see his pride and joy — a 1966 Pontiac GTO. Listening to his
Rockport Technology Akuila
loudspeakers ($44,500) driven by Ypsilon
Between the two rooms above was nestled a stealth Class D
power amplifier from Blueblade, a
company that also makes products for the
Weiss Engineering showed the Minerva, a $5000 DAC with a FireWire input that would allow you to play digital audio right out of your computer... or your HD camcorder, too, I suspect, which would make for some interesting bootleg playbacks.
And Rega showed the new Illicit 80 wpc integrated for $3000 which looked svelte. Next to it was the Rega Ios MC phono stage with dual mono discrete symmetrical circuitry and easily selectable loading and gain at $3200.
Ken Stevens look out. There's a new CAT on the block. But this one is loudspeaker company California Audio Technologies, showing a stand mounted monitor looking suspiciously like an Acoustic Zen speaker, except for the stunning red paint job and the $35,000 price tag... or $40,000 if you wish to include the sealed subwoofers with aluminum cones. Electronics were by Theta including their Enterprise fully balanced 300 watt monoblocks and Generation VII Series 2 preamp/DAC which can also be used as a stand-alone DAC. The rig sounded pretty good in spite of the fact there were no tweaky micro-vibration absorbing racks in sight. But then, perhaps it might have sounded even better.