CES 2013 Wrap-Up
At CES ten years ago you'd have to search to find a turntable and vinyl playback. The diehards were there and labels like Classic Records supplied some promos but that was about it.
One would be hard-pressed at CES 2013 to cover all of the new turntables, tonearms, phono preamps and most importantly vinyl. Software drives interest in the hardware and thanks to all of the folks now producing audiophile quality vinyl, the hardware manufacturers have the incentive to up their games.
This is the first year I've blogged rather than write a show report that would appear almost three months after the fact in Stereophile. This is much better in my opinion. You get the information immediately and there's space for more photos. I hope you enjoyed all of the posts. I think the only new product I failed to write about is the new Rega RP-8. Somehow I missed the room, but we covered the debut earlier this year on the site. To reiterate, it's priced at $3995 with Rega Apheta cartridge or $2995 without. We've been promised one for review as soon as possible, but apparently as soon as a pallet's worth arrives at importer Sound Organization's loading dock, they're all shipped out because they're sold. We can wait!
Finding and writing about all of the new analog gear at the show makes it difficult to find time to actually sit down and listen but I did some. The best sound I heard at the show in no particular order were from YG Acoustics' big new Sonja tower speaker, Wilson Audio Specialties Alexia in the DCS room driven by Dan D'Agostino monoblocks that I reviewed in the new issue of Stereophile, the updated Verity Audio Lohengrin II S driven by Lamm electronics, the Raidho Diamond D-1, a small stand mount two-way, the Magico Q7s driven by Constellation electronics, the Lansche towers driven by Ypsilon electronics, and the Absolute Arabesque glass speakers pictured here, which are a new special edition of the Crystal Cable Arabesque, driven by Sil-Tech's new SAGA electronics. Cables are Crystal Cables' Absolute Dream all mono-crystal cables Other rooms produced good sound but those are the ones I remember most.
The Sil-Tech battery powered electronics are particularly interesting. The stereo amplifier consists of two boxes: one does the voltage gain using vacuum tubes, the other does current gain using transistors. One of the designer's goals was to get the amplifiers "off the grid." So (as I recall the conversation), while the voltage gain section receives AC, the current gain section does not see AC, not even to charge the battery!
How is that possible? Sil-Tech contracted with a major electronics firm to produce intensely high output, high intensity LED modules that focus their light onto? Yes! Solar panels! The Sil-Tech current amp's batteries are charged by solar panels and never connect to the grid.
Is that a gimmick or a breakthrough? Based on the sound I heard in that room I'd say a breakthrough. I'll know more when the amps arrive here soon for review!
I flew home on the red-eye last night so I'm going to take a day off before finishing up a review of the SME 20/3 turntable that will be posted here in the next few days.