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CES 2014 Show Report   T.H.E. Show Las Vegas 2014 Report
CES 2014 Show & T.H.E. Show 2014 Report

Pass Laboratories Point 8 Series

  Pass Laboratories is celebrating their 23rd year with their new Point 8 Series, X.8 and XA.8 series of amplifiers. These units operate is a higher Class A amplification and are designed for audiophiles and music lovers alike. Seven years in the making, the Point 8 Series demonstrates Pass Laboratories' belief that "the best products must be carefully adjusted until their components operate in harmony ó then subjectively fine-tuned". The output stages of the larger Point 8 amplifiers bias more deeply into the Class A operating region. Their larger push-pull Class A operating delivers low distortion and additional loudspeaker control at ordinary listening levels. Higher power MOSFETs, and many more of them, are used to increase the amplifiers' Class A operation while running at fractions of their stated output power specifications. This aid in both performance and reliability. Each model in the 8 series has a front end specifics to its output stage so that the nine units' front ends vary in size, voltage, bias current, dissipation, and single-ended versus push-pull bias distribution. The directly coupled front ends, which house the input and voltage gain stages, maximize each model's output stage performance. meanwhile the company admits this imparts each model its own subtle and unique sonic signature. Below is a rundown of the various models and pricing of Pass Laboratories new 8 series of amplification:

XA200.8 200 watt Class A mono block $40,000 /pr
XA160.8 160 watt Class A mono block $26,000 /pr
XA100.8 100 watt Class A mono block $19,300 /pr
XA60.8 60 watt Class A mono block $12,800 /pr
XA30.8 30 watt per channel stereo $6,500
X600.8 600 watt mono block $26,000 /pr
X260.8 260 watt mono block $12,800 /pr
X350.8 350 per channel stereo $13,500
X250.8 250 per channel stereo $9,600
X150.8 150 per channel stereo $6,400

 

Westone AC Series 10 and 20 IEM

Westone is here at the International CES 2014 launching AC Series of high performance earphones designed by musicians, music professionals and audio lovers. Handcrafted in the same custom lab alongside the Westone ES Series, the AC Series uses balanced armature drivers to accurately reproduce live playback and performances. The AC Series 10 and 20 ($350 and $480 respectively) are custom-fit comfortable sound monitoring and playback devices. The AC10 features Westone's latest single armature driver while the AC 20 features multiple balanced armature drivers with multistage crossover design. The drivers are encased within a cold-pour acrylic earpiece housing for increased durability and enclosure stability. Westone's Dual Bore technology allows for the AC20 IEM high and low frequency sound components to be channeled through separate passages in the sound port and sum within the user's ear canal instead of the earpiece. This approach is claimed to result in a more convincing and transparent transition between frequency ranges. Each AC Series in-ear monitor is supplied with Westone's EPIC removable cable constructed of bifurcated, high-flex, ultra-low resistance tinsel wire, reinforced with a special aramid fiber. The new EPIC cable is removable and attached to the IEM by a single connector allowing for use with other premium cables from Westone. The AC Series is available in an assortment of colors with Westone etched on the faceplate.

 

Bang & Olufsen BeoPlay H3

Bang & Olufsen's BeoPlay H3 ($249) has been updated with a touch of golden colors. The sleek and comfortable headphone is now available in 4 colors that include the Golden Edition that joins the already existing Black, Silver and Red Editions. Their BeoPlay H3 ensures both a tight and comfortable fit. This is due to significant studies in the shapes and curves of the human ear carried out to obtain the geometry most suitable. Super soft rubber ear buds in different sizes are included with the headphones to guarantee an excellent fit for almost any shape and size of ear out there. BeoPlay H3 incorporates a custom-designed 10.8 mm driver and an acoustic design that includes a miniature bass port in an internal cabinet. This provides better low frequency output. The precision-drilled holes in the metal housing function as air vents, for when the driver is moving and the music is playing - but the design was made so you get minimal sound leakage both in and out. The in-line remote and microphone gives you the ability to control your device right from the cord which ensures an optimal ease-of-use and flexibility.

 

Harman's Luxury Audio Group is at CES 2014 showcasing its new Mark Levinson № 585 integrated amplifier ($12,000). Harmon's brand Mark Levinson № 585 is designed to deliver ultimate-quality music reproduction from analog and digital sources including computers and music servers. The Mark Levinson № 585 integrated amplifier produces 200 watts per channel @ 8 Ohms and 350 watts @ 4 ohms. It offers six digital inputs including USB, optical, coaxial and AES/EBU XLR, to accommodate a wide variety of digital music sources. The DAC can decode 32-bit/192kHz computer audio and DSD over PCM via USB. The № 585 incorporates exclusive Harman Signal Doctor processing, which employs proprietary signal-enhancement techniques to provide what the company feels is the best possible sound quality from compressed digital audio sources. The Mark Levinson № 585 provides a subwoofer output with a selectable 80 Hz high-pass filter for use in a properly implemented 2.1-channel system, and includes Ethernet, RS-232, IR and 12V trigger ports to facilitate its use audio/video installations with integrated systems control. Within the unit are discrete analog circuitry throughout, optimized for maximum sonic purity as evidenced by its symmetrical, clean interior design with no visible wires or cabling. Its high-current Class AB power amplifier section utilizes a robust 900VA custom toroidal analog power supply and SMPS digital power supply and is capable of driving even the most demanding exotic loudspeaker loads with ease. The casing is made from extruded and machined aluminum front panel has a two-tone brushed black and textured silver finish, accented by the company's iconic red panel display and LED indicators.

 

Enjoy the Music.TV interviewed Audiofly and world renown DJ TiŽsto as they announced their new "Club Life by TiŽsto" range of in-ear headphones. This range was designed in close collaboration with TiŽsto himself; known globally as the "Greatest DJ of All Time". Available in the Spring of 2014, the "Club Life by TiŽsto" in-ear headphones will set a new standard for the company in of excellence for music enthusiasts. This new line will be pre-released to the millions of loyal TiŽsto fans, and then to select retailers around the world. Initially, there will be three styles to choose from. The first is the ultimate, high-end flagship product, which will be an advanced hybrid in-ear headphone featuring a balanced armature and a dynamic custom voiced driver expertly tuned to TiŽsto's exacting specifications. It will deliver full spectrum sound, long term listening comfort, quality feel and "Club Life" style. The second roadworthy model offers exceptional sound quality, and noise isolation, and reflects the richness, design and overall quality of the TiŽsto brand. The third is a step up to a quality in-ear headphone, which features a custom-voiced dynamic driver, noise isolation, and the "Club Life" high end feel, comfort and trendsetting style. "I travel so much and usually listen to new music on my mobile devices" said TiŽsto. "It's imperative that I hear the detail in the music, so when I heard the authentic sound quality and saw the workmanship of Audiofly in-ear headphones, I knew wanted to collaborate with them to create my "Club Life by TiŽsto" range. I worked closely with Dave Thompson and the Audiofly team to create in-ear headphones that provide state-of-the-art performance for music lovers who demand the finest in detailed sound. We paid close attention to long-term listening comfort and developed a roadworthy Club Life design style." You can find our interview with TiŽsto within Enjoy the Music.com / Enjoy the Music.TV's YouTube channel.

 

  

Meridian is celebrating 25 years of their digital loudspeaker innovation. In fact the first digital loudspeaker in the world, model D600, were produced by the company back in 1989. Their new Special Edition (SE) Loudspeakers have specialized DSP digital active technology. The loudspeakers feature a beryllium domed tweeter, new electronics and driver clamp rings to deliver the highest-performing Meridian DSP Digital Active Loudspeaker available. Meridian is previewing the new models at CES 2014 and Special Edition DSP8000, DSP7200 and DSP5200. They also offer models G55 and G57 power amplifiers to extend the flexibility of Meridian Digital Theatre and stereo components. Meridian is re-introducing 5- and 2-channel amplifiers, enabling their surround controllers like the new G65 to drive third-party passive loudspeakers. The G65 is specifically designed to operate with the HD621 HDMI Processor, which separates out high-definition video and audio, thus said to increase the quality of both. The company's G65 Digital Surround Controller is joined by the Prime Headphone Amplifier & Prime Power Supply.

 

Korg's new DS-DAC-100 and DS-DAC-100m ($600 and $350 respectively consists of Korg's proprietary AudioGate 3 software, plus a choice of the DS-DAC-100 or DS-DAC-100m hardware interfaces. Both are USB DAC converters that will allow any Windows (ASIO) or Mac (Core Audio) user to play back their audio files including DSD 2.8 MHz and 5.6 MHz. The DS-DAC-100m oand DS-DAC-100 includes both unbalanced RCA and balanced XLR outputs. Users can play back their existing audio from CDs, downloads or other sources, as high-quality DSD audio on their computer or laptop. The benefit of audio conversion via AudioGate software is claimed to be a purer sound as it was originally intended. The audio passes through without the hardware filtering or modulation present in other available D/A converters, thereby eliminating potential noise and distortion. There is also a 1/4" stereo headphone output with the DS-DAC-100. Both the DS-DAC-100 and DS-DAC-100m support ASIO, WDM (Direct Sound, WASAPI) and Core Audio drivers. Installing the Korg USB Audio Device Driver will allow native 1-bit DSD playback on either Mac or PC. Supported audio input sample rates range from 44.1 to 192 kHz for PCM; both 2.8224 MHz and 5.6448 MHz are supported in the 1-bit DSD realm.

 

High-end audio company Valve Amplification Company (VAC) has exended an automatic bias system to their new moderately-priced model of amplification. Their active exhibit at CES 2013 features VAC's Statement Series Preamplifiers and Statement iQ Power Amplifiers. Founder Kevin Hayes states, "While more than 100 years old, vacuum tube technology is still embraced by musicians, recording engineers, and audio aficionados because of its ability to produce superior sound. The revolutionary patent-pending VAC iQ System, the result of 18 years of VAC R&D, is a major breakthrough in the application of tube technology. For the first time, each power tube can be held continuously and precisely at its optimal operating point, regardless of how loudly or softly the music is playing. The benefits are strikingly superior sound, and the elimination of worry and drama in maintaining tube amplifiers. We are excited to offer this sound experience to the attendees at CES." Debuting at CES is a new moderately priced model incorporating many cutting edge technologies developed for the cost-no-object Statement Series products: the Master Signature Preamplifier.

 

As the leading provider of audio enhancement solutions, with tens of millions of consumer product units already on the market, Waves is demonstrating its comprehensive audio offerings for consumer electronics at CES 2014. Waves Audio, the world-leading developer of audio DSP technologies and recipient of a Technical Grammy award, continues to leverage its pro audio expertise to bring premium sound to consumer electronics via its Maxx brand. Working closely with OEM partners such as industry giants DELL, ASUS and many others who are implementing Maxx technologies across their product lines, as well as leading semiconductor partners, Waves is pursuing its corporate mission to set new audio performance standards for consumer electronics. With one of the widest range of audio tools in the industry, the Waves Maxx line of processors for input, output and Automatic Speech Recognition performance enhancement is a true one-stop-shop for sound solutions. Waves offers three suites of professional sound processors, each of which consists of numerous individual technologies. MaxxAudio gives end users "clearer highs, enhanced bass and increased volume, MaxxAudio provides a better listening experience on any device. Now, MaxxAudio 6th generation includes environment-sensitive technologies as well as new features designed specifically for enhanced output performance for online streaming...".

 

While audiophiles are not generally keen on the brand Sharp Electronics, what is interesting is that we are seeing more devices using WiSA, a technology that easily handles 96kHz/24-bit multi-channel wirelessly. The Sharp Universal Player and Wireless Bridge, the first Wireless Speaker and Audio (WiSA) Association-compliant Universal Player system. The WiSA-compliant Sharp Universal Player SD-WH1000U ($4000) and the WiSA-compliant Sharp Wireless Bridge VR-WR100U ($600) will soon reach the marketplace. The Sharp Universal Player SD-WH1000U is the first component to transmit uncompressed sound at 24-bit/96kHz and video at Full HD 1080p wirelessly. The Sharp Universal Player has already been named a 2014 International CES Innovations Design and Engineering Awards Honoree in the High Performance Home Audio category. The Universal Player can be set up as part of a complete WiSA-compliant ecosystem -- in which this player uses internal transmitters to connect with up to 8 WiSA-compliant speakers (up to 7.1 channel surround sound) or install a Sharp WiSA-compliant wireless bridge system (VR-WR100U) that pairs with a consumer's own amplifier and speaker. The player can handle SACD and CDs, Blu-ray discs and DVDs and offers three HDMI inputs, two USB ports and an internet connection to bring a wealth of online and portable device options to the consumer. The player's ultra-rigid disc drive mechanism accurately reads Super Audio CD and standard DVD discs as well as delivering all the data from the even more challenging Blu-ray format. The combination of a dual-core insulated base system and the expanded structure printed circuit board topology eliminates interference from external vibrations and stray signals. New power supply components including custom-tuned enhanced stability capacitors and a powerful yet efficient R-core transformer ensure precise and stable operation.

 

As another wildcard that virtually no high fidelity audio magazine will cover, Pioneer Electronics Inc. unveiled NEX (Networked Entertainment eXperience) that is an innovative and powerful new user interface controlling a combination of on-board features with connected services and FLAC support. The five NEX models, four navigation and one audio video receiver, are designed for smartphone-driven lifestyle. Along with NEX connectivity and the enhanced UI, the new models also feature large touch panel displays with the flagship AVIC-8000NEX, boasting the industry's first 7" capacitive screen on a navigation system. Benefits and features in the lineup include AppRadio Mode, AVICSYNC Networked Navigation, iDatalink Maestro support, MirrorLink compatibility, Siri Eyes Free mode, expanded Bluetooth capabilities, Pandora, SiriusXM-Ready, HD Radio Technology, FLAC file playback, dual camera input and more. Pioneer's AppRadio Mode provides both iPhone and Android users the ability to access and control dozens of apps directly from the navigation receiver's large touchscreen display when connected to iPhone 4 and higher or a compatible Android smartphone. With Pioneer's MirrorLink technology, it enables consumers to connect compatible smartphones to NEX receivers using Pioneer's optional CD-MU200 USB cable ($35). Users can access music and map applications for a more convenient and safer in-car experience. Similar to AppRadio Mode, MirrorLink is now integrated into all five NEX receivers and offers a vehicle-specific interface and connectivity with MirrorLink certified devices from smartphone manufacturers such as Samsung, Nokia and others. The integrated HDMI port built into the AVH-4000NEX, AVIC-6000NEX, AVIC-7000NEX and AVIC-8000NEX models can be used for smartphone connectivity. For audiophiles, there is FLAC file support Ė first in the industry to support internal decoding and playback of FLAC lossless digital audio. A built-in Auto EQ and Time Alignment provides tailored audio adjustments specifically for the car and user preference. A 13-Band Graphic Equalizer with touch panel swipe setting and built-in high/low pass crossover with adjustable points and slopes. There is also a customizable GUI for adjusting color themes, background images, clock display preferences, and source shortcuts for quick access and convenience. The AVIC-8000NEX ($1400), AVIC-7000NEX ($1200), AVIC-6000NEX ($900), AVIC-5000NEX ($750) and AVH-4000NEX ($700) will be available in the beginning of February 2014.

 

VPI Industries JMW 3D Printed Tonearm

VPI Industries is at the International CES 2014 showcasing their JMW 3D printed tonearm. The groundbreaking JMW 3D printed tonearm Offers high performance for VPI's Classic Direct Drive, HRX, Aries, and Classic Series turntables. VPI's Aries 3D turntable package now includes the 12" version of the JMW 3D printed uni-pivot tonearm. "The 3D tonearm is manufactured on a $300K SLA machine using a proprietary epoxy resin" said Mat Weisfeld, President of VPI Industries. "The build process utilizes a CO2 laser to cure each layer of resin at four thousandths of an inch (0.004") thick, eliminating any chance of voids or porosity. The resulting material is very similar to the epoxy resin in carbon-fiber-reinforced polymer and not like injection molded plastic." Carbon-fiber has a crystalline structure which helps the transfer of vibrations. The epoxy resin used in the 3D tonearm is non-crystalline, which impedes the transfer of vibration up the tonearm. The shape of the tonearm shaft also adds rigidity to the structure and further prevents the transmission of surface vibrations. The result is a low resonance, lightweight tonearm. The 3D tonearm has a moderate effective mass of 13.8 gm, which is a good companion for moderate to low compliance cartridges. The Aries 3D turntable/12" JMW 3D printed tonearm package is available now for sale through VPI's select network of dealers ($9900). The JMW 10" 3D printed tonearm is $2500 and the JMW 12" version is $3000.

 

THIEL Audio introduced their TM3 two-way bookshelf loudspeaker ($2999/pair and optional stands are $599/pair) at CES 2014 and Enjoy the Music.TV has an exclusive live video from THIEL Audio within our YouTube channel! The TM3 represents a new design approach for the company, featuring high performance proprietary components and ground-up engineering by THIEL's Director of Product Development Mark Mason. The TM3 employs a re-imagined industrial design that emphasizes sleek, modern lines while adhering to the acoustic principles of reduced diffractions and extreme rigidity ó both important attributes of an ultimate performance loudspeaker. The core industrial design ethos of the TM3 will be carried forward to future products. The TM3 project began as a vision for a compact speaker with superior on and off axis frequency response uniformity, high power handling capabilities and ultra-low levels of distortion. These characteristics help make the TM3 ideal for traditional music applications as well as the rigors of movies soundtracks. The TM3 delivers excellent dynamic capability in a sculpted multi-ply wood enclosure. The two-way design utilizes a proprietary 6.5" cast basket woofer and 1" tweeter, both optimized specifically for the TM3 project. Frequency response is from 45 Hz to 30 kHz, sensitivity is 87dB/W/m and it presents an 8 Ohm impedance.

 

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