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The Home Entertainment Show 2004
Consumer Electronics Show 2004

Report By Dave Glackin

The Home Entertainment Show 2004 (T.H.E. Show)      2004 International Consumer Electronics Show

Music, Sound and Personalities:
The 2004 CES and T.H.E. SHOW

Page 1


  This was my twentieth CES, and my twelfth as a member of the audio press.  Am I jaded yet?  Not a chance.  And that’s mostly due to the people who populate this rabid madness called high-end audio.  If it weren’t for people like Arnis Belgalvis, Brooks Berdan, Stig Bjorge, Cy Brenneman, Coleman Brice, Richard Broida, Vince Bruzzese, George Cardas, D. J. Casser, Ole Christensen, Dave Clark, Byron Collett, Ted Conger, Ric Cummins, Tim deParavicini, Les Edelberg, Bruce Edgar, Mike Garges, Duane Goldman, Frank Hale, Kevin Hayes, Roger Hassing, Keith Herron, Bob Hovland, Hart Huschens, Clark Johnsen, Alan Kafton, Chad Kassem, George Kielcyznski, Stan Klyne, Joe Knight, Barry Kohan, Robert Lee, Winston Ma, Mike Maduras, EveAnna Manley, Luke Manley, Peter McGrath, Philip O’Hanlon, Bobby Palkovic, Robert Pincus, Shane Rich, Stan Ricker, Lila Ritsema, David Robinson, Steve Rochlin, Kal Rubinson, Martina Schoener, Toy Shigekawa, Gus Skinas, Saul Sokolsky, Paul Stubblebine, Bruce Thigpen, Victor Tiscareno, Jeff Tonkin, Albert Von Schweikert, John Ulrick, Ron Welborne, and many more, this show would just be a soulless pile of hardware.  But it’s not.  Far from it.  Thanks, folks, for making this such a blast year after year.

This was the seventh CES that I attended with Stan Ricker, musical and mastering maven extraordinaire, and an incredible friend to boot.  Stan is like a heat seeking missile for good sound, and his company, good humor, and occasionally off-color remarks added immeasurably to the enjoyment of the show for me.  Here’s to many more to come.


Mike Maloney is to be congratulated for his production of T.H.E. SHOW this year.  The quality of this maverick show has been like night and day compared to yesteryear when it was in other, far less capable hands.  Mike moved the bulk of T.H.E. SHOW back to the St. Tropez this year, right beside the CES high-end show at the Alexis Park, making it much easier to cover.  I’d like to give a special thanks to Mike for continuing to keep T.H.E. SHOW open for press day on Monday, since this is the only thing that allows me to cover the high-end audio in all three hotels with any depth.  Providing meaningful coverage in just four days is something I find to be impossible.  I made a special point of thanking all of the exhibitors who stayed for Monday, and would like to encourage the rest of the exhibitors at T.H.E. SHOW to do likewise next year.  It will help to ensure them of better press coverage, especially from those of us who try to cover the whole show single-handedly.  I’d also like to say that the large rooms at the San Remo were a boon to T.H.E. SHOW.  Last year I called one of the San Remo’s rooms the “Best Symphony Hall Experience” I’ve heard in my 25 years of listening to high-end audio, and that experience was convincingly repeated this year.  I’m not sure that would have been possible in any of the rooms at the St. Tropez.  You hit a home run this year, Mike.


Fun and Exciting Highlights

 George Cardas of Cardas Audio takes the award hands-down for the Most Creative New Technology.  This excited me more than any other technical development in the show, and George kindly gave me an exclusive.  The concept behind the “Golden Ellipsoid Microphone” is to make a microphone capsule that mimics the ear.  The active cavity looks like the inside of a chambered nautilus, and it uses the golden ratio geometric progression that has served Cardas so well in other applications.  The operating principle is that sound is progressively absorbed along the active area, and most significantly, it is absorbed by surfaces that are at equal tension.  Most (but not all) microphones act like the head of a drum under compression.  They tighten up under increased pressure, and they can make singers sound like their throats are tightening up.  George has built a E49 dual-capsule prototype version of his microphone that he was proudly displaying.  This is probably the first really new concept in microphones in some time.  The company that is my choice for interconnect, loudspeaker, and power cables in my reference system continues to come up with innovative ideas.  Godspeed, George.


D. J. Casser of Black Diamond Racing exhibited the Most Exciting Turntable Modification.  D. J. has always been inventive when it comes to the application of his carbon-fiber-and-epoxy-resin vibration control devices.  Black Diamond Racing shelves, cones and pucks are firmly ensconced throughout my reference system.  D.J. was exhibiting a modified Teres turntable, using a beautifully constructed Black Diamond Racing plinth.  It was impossible, of course, to evaluate the effects of that modification under show conditions, but judging from what one of his shelves did under my turntable, the effects may be very significant.  D. J. is also considering making replacement plinths for VPI TNT turntables.  If that happens, I expect it to generate a lot of excitement (as well as controversy).  D. J. was exhibiting with Mike Maduras of the Glass Amplifier Company.  It was great to see you both this year, gentlemen!


The Best New Small Loudspeaker was being shown by Dr. Karl Schuemann of AudioMachina.  Dubbed “The Ultimate Monitor,” this stand-mounted speaker sports a carbon fiber enclosure and three drivers in a d’Appolito configuration.  Each comes with a heavy-duty ATA case for ease of transport.  The sound from these babies was extraordinary.  I am recommending these to my esteemed editors for a full review.


The Best Subwoofer at the show was in the Cabasse room.  Designed by Dr. Bernard Debail, it uses a modified version of the 21-inch driver that is used in all OmniMax theaters in Europe, and it includes an integral 1000-watt amplifier.  The cone employs a honeycomb structure that only weighs 100 grams total.  Its reproduction of male voice chest tones was demonstrated to great effect using a Fairfield Four recording.


My Favorite Headphone Amplifier, now in its tenth year, was being displayed by Hart Huschens of Audio Advancements.  The EarMax, a tiny tri-triode tyke, is an OTL amp that drives my Sennheiser 580 headphones beautifully.  Hart was also exhibiting a great new small floor-standing loudspeaker, the Om model from the manufacturer fJ (für Johanna), whose modest appearance belies its excellent sound quality.  Another new (to me) line for Hart is TRON electronics.  The units I saw had very high build quality, and deserve further examination.  Visiting with Hart is always a highlight of the show, and this year was certainly no exception.


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