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The Home Entertainment Show 2004
Consumer Electronics Show 2004

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

Page 2


The Best Public Address System at the show (yes, you read that right) was from Von Schweikert Audio.  The loudspeakers used planar magnetic drivers for midrange and treble, and four cone woofers for the bass.  We were treated to excellent sound through this system every day at lunchtime at T.H.E. SHOW, while we listened to the Misty River Band playing live.  Speaking of which...



The Best Sound in the Show was "The A Capella Song," as performed by the Misty River Band in an all-acoustic set at TG Audio/CTC Builders in a small jam-packed room at the Alexis Park.  Doing a combination of bluegrass, folk, and other art forms that they dubbed "Americana," this four-woman group hailing from the Portland, Oregon, area sang and played their hearts out.  Their harmonies blended beautifully.  Bob Crump of TG Audio/CTC Builders was the driving force behind Misty River’s appearance in Las Vegas, following his introduction to their music by Jan Mancuso.  He convinced the band that they should appear, and he convinced Mike Maloney likewise.  Bob had been bowled over by Misty River’s recorded and live performances, championed their cause with Maloney, and funded their appearance at the Alexis Park.  Bravo.  (This session goes undocumented, as my photos were egregious.)

Stan Ricker was fortunate enough to sit in on bass with Misty River several times.  In an e-mail to the members of Misty River after the show, Stan said, “I’m still trying to peel myself off the ceiling for having the privilege of doing the obligato bass part behind your “America”!  A hell of a thrill, pure music-making thru and thru!!!   Thank you all for putting up with my unabashed unbridled enthusiasm --- you didn’t really think I came to all those lunches just to munch on 5 hot dogs a day, did you?!?!!????”


The Most Fun at the Show was watching and hearing a recording workshop put on in the Von Schweikert Audio room at the San Remo.  The audience got to hear the Misty River Band sing live, got to watch recording engineer extraordinaire Chris Huston work with the group and make adjustments in real time, and got to hear the playback over a big system consisting of amplifiers from Kevin Hayes of VAC, cables from Robert Lee of Acoustical Zen, room treatment from RPG, and loudspeakers from Albert Von Schweikert (the behemoth VR-11s).  Room correction was done by Chris Huston and Richard Rives Bird of Rives Audio, using their analog-domain PARC (Parametric Adaptive Room Compensation) device.  Recording was done with a Meitner DSD recorder.  I was also quite taken by Rives Audio’s catchphrase, "So you finally have the sound system to die for.  Only your listening room is what’s killing you."  This session was an absolute blast and quite educational, and I thank everyone involved.  My hat is off to Albert Von Schweikert for having the good taste to fund the appearance of Misty River at these workshops, as well as every single day (including Monday) at lunchtime at T.H.E. Show.


Kevin Hayes of VAC

Robert Lee of Acoustic Zen

Afterward, Chris Huston told me that he was from Liverpool, went to school with John Lennon, and was with a band in the early 60’s called The Undertakers, for whom The Beatles once opened.  Chris went on to engineer records for The Who, Led Zeppelin, War, and a large number of other famous bands.  He has also designed world-class recording studios, such as the Sound Kitchen in Nashville.  An ideal candidate for a future interview, I’d say.


Abraham Laboriel, who is said to be “the most recorded bass player in the world,” put on some demonstrations of his prowess that were generating good buzz around the show.  He was playing through new hybrid ribbon-and-cone-woofer loudspeakers from Mark Gilmore of Gilmore Audio, powered by Atma-Sphere tubed monoblocks.  Watching Abraham play electric bass was a joy; just when you thought he couldn’t get any better, he did.


The Biggest Turntable Paradigm Shift was described to me in detail by Sanju Chiba, president of the ELP Corporation.  This gentleman purchased the intellectual property of Finial, the US company that originally attempted to produce a laser turntable.  ELP spent five years developing the final product, and five more years marketing it, and report that over 1000 of these wear-free turntables have been sold since 1997.  Two lasers read the groove, one for each groove wall.  They read higher in the groove than a typical stylus rides, thus sensing a “virgin” portion of the groove.  Two more lasers are used to track the groove laterally and aim the read lasers, while a fifth laser keeps track of the height of the record.  The spot size of the read lasers is 2 microns, smaller than a typical stylus, and equal to the size of the burnishing facets on the cutting stylus on Stan Ricker’s mastering lathe.  The major drawback appears to be that the LP must be squeaky clean; any dust on the record apparently produces major noise.  A good record cleaning machine is a must, and ELP recommends the Loricraft.  The quality of the associated playback system was poor, so I could make no judgments about sound quality.

The Most Interesting Marriage of Computers and Audio was to be found in the Electra-Print room of Jack EllianoVincent Sanders of VRS Audio Systems was exhibiting a computer-based audio system that can copy CDs or LPs (the latter at up to 32 bits/192 kHz sampling).  For CDs, the computer acquires the track information from the web, then rips the contents to a hard drive in under 5 minutes.  A playlist of up to 1000 tracks can be generated, in any desired genre.  The contents of approximately 220 CDs can be stored with no compression of any kind, on a 160 GB hard drive.  DVD-Audio discs can also be accommodated, but not SACDs.  The system reportedly completely eliminates digital jitter, resulting in sound quality that is better than the original CD.  Although I could not vouch for that from the demonstration that was presented, I can say that the playback did not sound digital.


Barry Kohan of Bright Star Audio showed the Best Grit and Determination for the eighth year running.  And running he was, installing his justifiably famous resonance control products in myriad rooms around the show.  (This entire line started from a humble box of sand that Barry had sitting under a turntable many years ago, hence the grit.)  Some of my favorite products of Barry’s over the years have been the Rack of Gibraltar and the Padded Cell (sporting the catchphrase “Every audiophile needs a padded cell”).  Whatever happened to that, anyway?  I need one desperately.  The latest product featured at the show was the IsoRock 3 Reference platform, in Barry’s three official CES rooms.  Barry also does the assembly for the new Gilmore loudspeaker mentioned above.


Winston Ma of First Impression Music is busily expanding his line, to include very high quality power outlets, IEC connectors and power plugs, interconnect and power cables, maple equipment platforms, and acoustical panels.  I am enjoying one of Winston’s duplex AC receptacles in my system now, and plan to install them in the remainder of my system shortly.  At the show, Winston introduced the Most Interesting New Acoustical Panels.  These are absorbing panels made entirely of natural fibers, designed to be used safely in place of fiberglass, dubbed the Safe Home Acoustic Panel (SHAP).


The Most Interesting New Connector was introduced by Eichmann Technologies International from Brisbane, Australia.  The Eichmann Bullet Plug is a brand new type of RCA plug.  It replaces the standard outer return/ground collar with a tellurium/copper pin.  This reportedly solves the problems introduced by a collar with multiple contact points, gaps, and impedance effects.  This one is definitely worth investigating.


The Most Promising Power Conditioner was the Power Wing, manufactured by World Power and represented by Alan Kafton of audioexcellenceaz.  I have one on short-term loan for a tryout in my reference system, and will be able to report back at some point in the future on whether the angels sang and the skies parted.  Or maybe even on what it did for my system.


The Most Promising In-Wall Loudspeaker was being shown by Jeff Joseph of Joseph Audio.  “The Insider” uses a metal cone woofer and a silk dome tweeter with an infinite slope crossover.  The design is said to result in an excellent dispersion pattern that mitigates some of the drawbacks of typical in-wall loudspeakers.


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