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International CES 2009 & THE Show Report
Consumer Electronics Show 2009 Report & Coverage   The Home Enteetainment Show
CES & THE Show 2009 Report
Part 3 By Rick Becker

 

 

 

I was excited to discover the Davone Rithm loudspeaker, driven here by Bel Canto electronics. I had seen the literature that my friend Tom Lathrop had brought back to me from Denver and was very curious if it sounded as good as it looks. It does. Constructed of laminate panels, the bowed surface is actually stronger than typical flat panels of most box-shape loudspeakers. A single coaxial driver is covered by a round grill cloth that complements the oak or walnut arch. At a little under 28-inches tall it is not imposing because of its size, but rather catches your attention and then releases it to allow you to enjoy the music. Obviously, it falls into the upper level of lifestyle products at $5500/pr but it should have a huge appeal for people who are into contemporary décor. The Bel Canto gear was well matched, both stylistically and power wise, since the Rithm's sensitivity is 85dB/W/m. Not surprisingly, I noted that it is now distributed by Chris Sommovigo, who not only has a personal interest in the contemporary style, but his Signal Collection is a source for top shelf gear.

 

The Audience ClairAudient Line Source Array 16 produced an incredibly deep soundstage that held together even as I walked from side to side in this room. I also note the Stillpoints Component Stand under the monoblock amplifier.

 

The Qsonics display was more than fun and eye candy. This $15k juke-box style server has a built-in CD player that rips your music to the hard drive. A wide variety of search modes are available to recall your music. There are multiple outputs to feed additional rooms and a digital output if you wish to feed your own external DAC. You can also connect to the internet to download music from say, Music Giants. “Fun, Fun, Fun, 'til your daddy takes the T-bird away"!

 

       

Looking not unlike their SQ-38FD integrated amplifier of 1970 vintage, Luxman was showing their new SQ-38u tube integrated complete with wood cabinet. It puts out 30 watts into 6 ohms and 25 watts into 8 Ohms with EL34 tubes. And yes, those are tone controls! You will also find a step-up transformer for MC and a phono stage for mm/mc. Point to point wiring? Of course! And it's even been updated with a home theater by-pass and a remote control for volume. Buying a mint condition T-bird of 1970 vintage may not make sense today, but $6k will get you one of these. Luxman also showed a DU-80 Universal Player for $10,500 in a decidedly more modern chassis. The big irony was that the Luxman gear was teamed with the ultra contemporary Vivid B-1 loudspeaker in silver for $15,000. I've raved about this loudspeaker in past show reports and it was sounding just as good here. This is a product that is waiting for its target customer to grow up and land good jobs. The host recounted a story of seeing a bunch of children all excited about the loudspeaker when it was featured on the cover of a magazine at a newsstand. It was a very inviting sound in combination with the tube powered Luxman amplifier. On silent display in metallic red was their new flagship Giya G-1 loudspeaker that should rank right up there with B & W's Nautilus in terms of unique design, at the very least. Vivid Technical Director Laurence Dickie holds patented innovations for the Nautilus and numerous other loudspeakers. The Giya is selling so well in the Far East that I'm told they can't keep up with demand. It was demonstrated by appointment only over at the Mirage so I didn't get to hear it. Someday, maybe I'll get lucky and have a chance to hear this award winning loudspeaker.

 

Hearld was showing their large floorstanding H4M-773 loudspeaker that bears a resemblance to the B & W Nautilus just mentioned. This was an active version of the H-774 passive model I have seen in New York with 400 watts in the bass and 125 watts for the mid/treble drivers. The bass is a transmission line design with a bottom port. It goes for $12k. Seen on the wood stands on the floor are Herald's CD4M-734 CD player and P4M-754 preamplifier, each priced at $1300. The CD player has a tube analog output stage and the preamp can be configured in several ways. Tube on the top end, solid state on the bass. All tube output or all solid state output to give you a lot of flexibility for a wide variety of loudspeakers. There is a lot to play with at reasonable prices with this line.

 

 

LaFleur Audio from Montreal was on hand with a variety of models. This was the company that set up shop in the Press Room with a large conference table in the sweet spot at Montreal last year. It was a pleasure to meet Andre Labbe once again. I heard the X-1 two-way with dedicated stand for $13k and it sounded quite good. The cabinet is made with layers of laminated birch; similar looking to the Magico Mini, but it is much smaller than the Mini. I was put off at first by the dark finish, but then remembered that a lot of accent tables for living rooms are done in espresso finish. The X-1 finish was richer looking than the flat espresso finish due to the laminations of wood and the inconsistent way they absorb the stain on the end grain, but it would fit right in with espresso occasional tables. Also on silent display were the larger floorstanding X-2 model ($17000) and a less expensive two-part loudspeaker built of MDF. The MX-1 ($8900) is a two-way monitor in its own right, but it can be placed atop the MX-B bass reinforcement unit for a wider range loudspeaker. The MX-B was shown in prototype form and will be about the same cost as the MX-1. I look forward to hearing them at Montreal in a couple of months.

 

 

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