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CES 2006 & T.H.E. Show Coverage
CES 2006 -- Consumer Electronic Show Las Vegas      T.H.E. Show 2006

Show Report By Dick Olsher
Page 2

  There were several other exceptional sounding systems that caught my attention and deserve recognition. And here they are:


LAMM Industries was making sweet music indeed with an analog front end that consisted of a VPI H-RX turntable, JMW tonearm, Dynavector DRT XV-1S cartridge, and the LAMM LP2 phono preamplifier and L2 Reference line preamplifier. This was in keeping with a growing trend - a return to vinyl for critical listening. The rest of the system included the Wilson Audio Maxx 2 speakers and the LAMM ML2.1 tube monoblocks. Silversmith Audio Palladium cables wired the system.


It was difficult to leave the Acapella room. The Violon Mk. III driven with Einstein tube electronics produced luxuriant sound. For someone like me who had dragged helium bottles across the house to feed Plasmatronics speakers, the Violon's ionic tweeter seems like a much more elegant and practical solution for a massless transducer. 


Concert Fidelity's founder and chief designer, Masataka Tsuda, proudly showed off his new 6B4G Fusion Monoblock Power Amplifier ($28,000/pair). Driving a pair of ESP loudspeakers in the Audio Critical Mass room, the soundstage was nothing short of spectacular with the sort of drive and speed one typically associates with solid-state amplification.

The VMPS RM-30 speaker ($4,430/pair), driven by Bruce Moore amplification, made a lasting impression. It features a ribbon midrange (three panels) operating from about 280Hz up to 7kHz, and a narrow ribbon tweeter operating to beyond 20kHz. Several woofers handle the bass octaves. Another key feature is a Constant Directivity Wave Guide (patent pending) incorporating a damped, 0.66-inch aperture or "diffraction slot" that takes advantage of the fact that large ribbons act more like plucked strings than pistons with most the acoustic output being generated from the center of the ribbon. About 75 percent of the diaphragm is masked off (with suitable absorption to prevent a lot of sound energy being reflected back into the diaphragm), leaving the 2/3-inch wide center section to generate output. The tweeter is already narrower than 0.66-inch, so it is fitted with its own waveguide that slightly widens it acoustically. The result is said to be a true line source, two-thirds of an inch wide from 280Hz up with 180 degrees of dispersion. I can testify that while sitting in the back of the room, more or less in line with the left channel, I was still able to perceive a reasonable soundstage.


Pioneer's TAD division unveiled a new home audio reference loudspeaker. The Model-2 incorporates proprietary technologies such as beryllium diaphragms for its midrange and tweeter. 


Escalante Designs' Tierry Budge introduces the Fremonttm loudspeaker (www.escalantedesigns.com). Eminently musical and silky smooth, the Fremonttm (about $15,000/pr) represents a must audition at this price point.


Music without dynamic compromise. The PBN Audio Montana KAS loudspeaker ($27,500/pair) combines a hammer with a silk glove; finesse and impact in one package. A great choice for high-end home theater applications (www.montanaloudspeakers.com).


The Murata spherical ceramic driver technology has come full circle. On display was the ES301 loudspeaker (projected retail of $9,000/pair). Very clean and fast to be sure, but also pretty quiet with a sensitivity rating of only 78dB/W/m. You'd better have a high-power amplifier on hand.


Coincident Speaker Technology's Israel Blume exhibited with the Manley Lab folks. Here he declared total victory with the Total Victory II ($12,999/pair), an updated version of the speaker originally reviewed in The Absolute Sound. Sensitivity is stated as 97dB/W/m with a nominal impedance of 10 ohms; highly suitable specs for low-power SET drive.

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