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CES Report & T.H.E. Show Coverage 2011
CES 2011 & CES Coverage   The Home Entertainment Show (THE Show)
Show Coverage By Phil Gold

 Meridian Audio Core 200 and DSP 3200 Speakers
This elegant system previewed at CEDIA and is now shipping. The Audio Core 200 (1500) is a stereo audio controller with multiple analog and digital inputs. The front panel features Meridian's familiar software-defined piano key controls (like on my G08 CD Player), an OLED display and a headphone output. It is designed to connect to the active speakers over a single wire, and also to interface easily with a Meridian Soolos unit like the Media Core 200 or a Control 15. The DSP3200 (3750) is Meridian's most compact DSP active speaker so far. It can be used either stand mounted or sitting on a bookshelf and comes in a choice of black or white high-gloss finish. The sound quality belies the looks and size of the components, something we've come to expect from Meridian.



Cambridge Audio Sonata NP30 and iD100 iPad dock
Cambridge Audio introduced the Sonata NP30 ($649) to unleash the potential of computer music and over 20,000 Internet Audio stations through UuVol. UuVol manages all your favorite streaming services for instant access without a PC, and you can control the whole shebang with the free UuVol Remote iPhone app. Wolfson 24/96 capable DACs ensure versatility and quality and amazingly the unit weighs less than 5 lbs. Sonata works with wired or wireless (including 802.11N) connections for playback from any UPnP (Universal Plug 'n Play) equipped device. The output from the NP30, either digital or analog, can be fed into the matching Sonata AR30 receiver, which is Sirius Radio ready. For anyone looking to get the best sound out of their iPad, iPhone or iPod Touch, the iD100 Dock ($329) (available in silver or black) will give you direct access to the digits, unlike most docks which can only access the inferior analog output. Outputs include Coaxial S/PDIF, AES/EBU balanced XLR, Toslink optical, plus video outputs in component, S-Video or composite formats. You just hook it up to your DAC or receiver. It is also one of the first units to directly hold the larger iPad.



Dr. Ray Kimber brought his four channel demonstration room back to Vegas. Speakers were the aforementioned Sony SSAR-1's, with EMM Labs electronics, dual Pass Labs X350.5 power amps, GML 9500 Room EQ and Kimber Select cabling (a total of $313,200 for the entire system, far from the most expensive setup at CES). Here you could relax in comfort and listen to some of the extraordinary recordings to come out of the isoMike project centered at Weber State University under Dr Kimber's direction. The sound was spacious and lifelike, among the very best at the show. The major new release this year is a seven disc Mozart Piano Sonata set, on four channel hybrid SACD, featuring the Canadian pianist Robert Silverman. I will be reviewing this important set in an upcoming edition of Enjoy The Music, and I will also be reviewing the EMM Labs Pre2 preamp, shown last year in prototype form and now ready for production. Two of these units were linked together for the four channel system.



Crystal Cables Arabesque III 
After surprising us with the elegant glass-bodied Arabesque speaker at past shows, Crystal Cables introduced the fine sounding aluminum-bodied Arabesque III. I found this speaker even more impressive than the bigger Arabesque and I was able to do some serious listening after the show in a private suite hosted by the North American distributors, Audio Plus. They sound like much bigger speakers than they actually are, and they join the growing ranks of really impressive metal-bodied speakers (think YG Acoustics, Magico). Three unique Scan Speak Illuminator bass-midrange drivers and a smaller Illuminator midrange feature an airflow underhung magnet system, while the tweeter, also from Scan Speak, features a beryllium dome. Internal wiring of course is by Crystal Cables, only this time you'll have to take that on faith, since apparently aluminum is not see-through. The cross-section of the cabinet is a most unusual shape (arabesque) as illustrated here with Crystal Cables CEO, Gabi van der Kley. Arabesque III will sell for around 35,000 and will be joined by a baby brother, the Arabesque Mini, which is expected to sell for about one third of that.


Micromega IA-400 Integrated Amp and AS-400 Integrated Amp
Micromega introduced two new integrated amps at CES. The first is the powerful IA-400 ($3595) which is designed to compete with more expensive separates. Working in Class D, it puts out 400 wpc into 4 ohms and includes a MM phono section. The controls and the vacuum fluorescent display are beautifully designed for ease of use. The volume is controlled by a digitally controlled resistor ladder. The AS-400 Amplifier ($4995) at CES builds on this, integrating a next generation AirStream implementation for AirTunes wireless playback of music from a nearby iPhone or iPad and it integrates fully with iTunes. Full Internet Audio support is also provided. The DAC is a Cirrus Logic 24/192 4351. I will have the AS-400 at home soon for audition. My short taste of its abilities in Vegas leaves me very optimistic for the future of Micromega, once in serious doubt.


KEF T Series Speakers
After a great deal of research, KEF claims a breakthrough in achieving excellent sound from very slim dynamic speakers which can be wall mounted alongside your flat panel television without looking out of proportion. I hear statments like this on a regular basis, and in most cases such claims are simply hype. But KEF really do seem to have something worth talking about here, and I predict a great success for the new T Series. Instead of using a conventional cone in its mid/bass driver, KEF uses a flat diaphragm reinforced by very fine stiffening ribs with the driver as a whole acting as a stressed member to reduce cabinet vibration. The entire suspension system is placed outside the magnet to avoid adding height to the driver. With the aid of a powerful neodymium motor unit and a large long throw voice coil, KEF has achieved a depth of just 1" for this driver. A newly designed vented tweeter with a tangerine waveguide offers high power handling and a wide bandwidth. KEF is showing three 5-speaker AV systems in the T Series, the T105 ($1500), T205 ($1800) and T305 ($2000) designed to cover various screen sizes.



Golden Ear Triton Two Tower Speaker
Sandy Gross, erstwhile founder of Polk and Definitive Technology has started a third company, Golden Ear. The Triton Two tower speaker ($2500 a pair) is the top of the line model, and includes in its slender frame a 1200 watt subwoofer driving twin 5" x 9" sub woofer drivers at the front and two side-mounted 7" x 10" planar infrasonic radiators. A High Velocity Folded Ribbon (HVFR) tweeter is set in a D'Appolito configuration between two Golden Ear 4.5" bass/midrange drivers. The black gloss finish and very slim profile make these an attractive proposition for stereo listening or as the base for an all Golden Ears AV system, a full range of which was on display. The sound is smooth and powerful and represents outstanding value for such advanced technology and performance.


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