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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



Chord is ever innovating and here showed their new Indigo DAC with iPod adapter for $8000 ($7500 without the iPod reader). The little black rabbit ears seen here at the back of the unit are antennae for a Bluetooth type receiver of very high quality developed by Nokia of Sweden for receiving signals from a laptop or presumably a server. The Indigo DAC is accompanied here by the attractive looking CPM 3350 integrated amplifier.



Entering the Lamm Industries room is like entering a cloister; a solemn event. It was the only room at CES in which I regretted not wearing a tie. The sign on the wall between the Wilson Maxx Series 3 loudspeakers at the far end read: an amplifier with the power to alter your beliefs about what is possible. They were talking about the ML3, a 32 watt per channel, four chassis tube amplifier that has received critical acclaim over the past year. The L2 preamplifier and LP2 phono preamplifier had supporting roles as well. A NeoDio Transport and DAC and a Clearaudio Innovation turntable with Universal tonearm and titanium cartridge held down the front end. Critical Mass Systems racks and Kubala-Sosna Emotion cables kept the vibrations controlled and the equipment connected. Except for the Maxx 3 loudspeakers, it was a rig not unlike what was presented at Montreal . The room here was smaller, however, and that prevented a lot of moving around. I had to stand at the back. Mostly people just kind of listened reverently to classical and easy jazz. Vladimir Lamm would kneel down and softly converse with aficionados from time to time. There was a flyer for the NeoDio NR 22 CD player which may have been in the rig rather than the separate transport and DAC. It uses multiple reading and playback from memory buffering, a technological approach first developed by Mark Porzilli with his Memory Player some years ago. The NR 22 is laden with damping technology and attention is paid to eliminating magnetic coupling on the back panel. It upsamples to 24-bit/192kHz. The music here was very well reproduced, and I certainly respect the man who is the brand, but were my beliefs altered? I'd have to slide into that room late at night, slip in a disc with Eric Clapton and BB King and let them mix it up with a little "3 o'Clock Blues" to answer that question. Maybe in Montreal ...and I'll be sure to wear my Jerry Garcia tie.

Almost to accidentally prove my point in the Lamm room, I dropped down to the 30th floor as it was well after the closing hour of 6 pm. and was sucked into a home theater presentation of the highest order presented by Wisdom Audio. Admittedly, there was the additional visual stimulation of excellent video here, but the concert videos they showed had people glued to their seats in rapt attention and moved me emotionally as well. Apparently I was not the only one so affected as they subsequently published a list of the videos they presented and emailed it to anyone who was on their mailing list — by overwhelming request. It was a lot more pop and blues oriented. The Wisdom system incorporated in-wall models in fake walls they used for the demonstration as well as floorstanding models for the rear channels of this surround setup. Besides the planar magnetic point source hybrid loudspeakers the system has an electronic crossover system and dedicated amplification. They stress the importance of having the whole system. It certainly worked for me. Big time! Sitting in the second row the soundscape filled the room, but did not extend beyond the front speakers as is typically experienced in stereo setups with the speakers placed out into the room. I tried to get an answer about two channel presentations, but they seemed to be a lot more knowledgeable about surround sound. Also presented here was their "suitcase" subwoofer that looks like a suitcase with a handle on top to carry it around. In the room two of these were placed inconspicuously behind curtains up against the wall. There was plenty of tight bass, never overdone. Their speakers come in three basic sizes starting at $16k/pr for the small size with electronics on up to $43k for the big pair with electronics. Obviously this becomes serious money when you expand to a full surround system, but I'm unaware of anything that sounds better.

Another unusual stop found me at the International Rectifier room where another display of Class D amplifiers that you can hold in the palm of you hand were driving a pair of Revel Ultima Salon 2 loudspeakers all day long on a third of the capacity of a 12 volt car battery. International Rectifier (stock symbol: IRF) is a huge company that is involved in a lot of technology beneficial to the Greening of America. Stay tuned.

At this point I was getting tired and hungry, having eaten only a few granola bars since coffee and a muffin at the Press Room before the show opened. I descended to the main floor and walked back through the casino to the shuttle back to the Alexis Park only to find that it stopped running at 6:30. Damn quitters! I inquired about getting to the most direct route to walk back, but was told that I didn't want to go down that street. OK. I decided I could walk over to the Strip and go sight seeing on the way back.

But wait! Wasn't that the YG Acoustics room I had just passed? And the guy was just sitting there... I walked into the otherwise empty room where Dick Diamond, Director of Sales & Marketing indulged my pleasure of listening to almost my entire compilation CD. The YG Anat Reference II Professional loudspeakers transformed the large barren room into an auditorium. And I was the audience for a very amazing concert of my own choosing. That I chose to stay and listen that long on an empty stomach at the end of a ten hour day should tell you what I think of these speakers. Of course a lot depends on the room in which you put a loudspeaker, but if they fit your décor, the Anat is certainly among the very best in the world. Huge, deep soundstage, excellent transparency, great dynamics, musical, emotionally engaging — and this praise coming from a guy who generally prefers tube gear. The rig had a dCs front end with Krell pre and power amps. Two 400 watt stereo amps were used to vertically bi-amp the Anats which also had a built-in power amplifier in the lowest bass module. $107,000/pr for the Anat. Whew!

I turned up my collar in the cool air and hiked over to the Strip. Half-way down I stopped into McDonalds to inhale some protein and struck up a conversation with a guy who was also wearing a convention badge, except his was for the Adult Entertainment Show at the Sands. He was a photographer from Seattle who had come down to work the event. Nice work if you can get it, I guess. I proceeded down the Strip to the Harley Davidson Café and turned left, stopping at the convenience store at the corner near the Alexis for a tall can of beer. (Next time I'll remember to bring a church key). I walked past the stretch limos lined up across the street from the Hard Rock and headed to my room for a few moments of serenity before retiring, figuring I was about a third of the way through the show so far.



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