High End At CES 2018 Is a One Floor Wonder (Now Including Hour Long Video)

Opening day was the one day needed to pretty much cover the entire High End segment at CES 2018 and I wasn't exactly rushing. What's happened? Most of the business these days is at Munich High End. It's more of an international event (for the High End) and Spring is a more opportune time for fall and holiday season buying. For a few years meeting with west coast dealers was sufficient reason for exhibiting at CES but the dealer network has shrunk. I was handed the vintage Stereophile issue in the Paradigm/Anthem room.

There was sufficient time to sit and listen in rooms that would normally be a quick "in and out". For AnalogPlanet it was worth going just for the Technics SP-10R and SL-1000R launch. It's major. But there was more.

An hour long video shot yesterday is uploading now but Internet speed is glacial at Treasure Island (argghhh!!!) so it won't be embedded at the bottom of the post for now. Please return here later today (Wednesday) for the full video.

In the world of analog there was were only a few product debuts. They will be covered in the video, but among them were two new turntables from Triangle Arts, a new phono preamp from ELAC, which bought Peter Madnick's Audio Alchemy and brought him on board as the chief designer. Madnick walked me through the new ELAC phono preamp, which he says is better than the now discontinued Audio Alchemy PPA-1 yet costs approximately $500 less, and the first showing of Pro-Ject's limited edition 175th Vienna Philharmonic Anniversary turntable.

The lack of new analog introductions provided time to listen to systems rather than rushing from room to room and just shooting video. So where was the great sound? Firstly was the Vandersteen room where the sound is always good. This year the company introduced a new mono block amplifier the M5-HPA. It's a minimalist solid state design outputting 300 watts into 4 ohms and 150 into 8. The $15,000 a pair amps driving a pair of moderately priced ($13,900/pr) Vandersteen Quatro Wood CT speakers produced the best sound I heard yesterday, with a midrange transparency that kept me listening for more than a half hour to my high resolution files from vinyl. I could have sat for the rest of the afternoon hogging the programming but wisely I relinquished control.

Another great sounding room was the Paradigm/Anthem room where the amp and speaker combo (highlighted in the coming video) where the combo costing $20,000 (amp, preamp and speakers) produced impressive overall performance from top to bottom.

Also notable was the ELAC room where the new ELAC electronics referenced above driving the ELAC Andante floor-standers sounded far more impressive than the ensemble's relatively low price tag (see the video).

That's all for now. Watch for the video embedded under this, coming up!

Rudy's picture

>> Opening day was the one day needed to pretty much cover the entire High End segment at CES 2018 and I wasn't exactly rushing. <<

Wow, so it was a light showing from the high-end companies?

How was visitor attendance this year? I read last year from a few publications how the crowds have thinned in recent years, and 2017's was the lightest of all. Didn't seem to long ago that this was an "Event". Now it seems like the high end segment at CES is existing on name only.

Michael Fremer's picture
High End has moved on to Munich. It's a better location Internationally and the show is all about High End and not about 'tech'. Attendance and participation to the show will be at a record high and actually the halls were crowded in the Venetian but next year is "iffy"
vinyl listener's picture

i remember when it was just the winter and summer ces.

my new username's picture

Is that a video tape recorder? My jr high had a Sony with helical scan (reels, B & W) and it was old even then, by U-Matic standards we normally used.

Lincoln Matt's picture

Is this what you are talking about? http://www.rewindmuseum.com/reeltoreelvideo.htm I used this at my high school in the mid 70s to tape basketball games for our coach. The one on the cover looks similar, but possibly the 1" tape mentioned on the site.

my new username's picture

I don't remember the exact styling but that's probably it. The school was built in '65 and I was there 15 years later. Pretty good Sony reliability back then! Most of the classrooms had access to a U-Matic of course.

My mom taught choral music and I often recorded the concerts for her there. Some company serving the edu market made large rolling cabinets made of wood. Opening the lid, there was a lower-end Pioneer integrated amp that drove a built-in speaker, with another externally. The cabinet also housed a TC-377, which was fed by two SM57 mics.

What I though was interesting, was that the schools typically had Caliphone record players, but instead of using cheaper cassettes went with open reel for recorders. My high school choir teacher was more of an audiophile. His classroom had a turntable ... and a Technics RS-1500! I guess when you're the music dept. chair, you can better arrange the budget.

AudioGuru's picture

Go to 17:42 on the video. Hear that? It is extremely strong EMI/RFI which is being picked up by the audio recording circuitry in the camcorder being used to record the video.


What this means is that the motor control unit for the SL-1000 turntable is not very well designed to eliminate these emissions, and that it is extremely likely that this crud will be picked up to some degree by the cartridge in the arm and/or the arm's wiring, or the phono preamplifier.


I would therefore humbly alert Technics to this problem and suggest they take a look at it. The motor control unit is probably using PWM to power the motor. PWM is essentially square waves, with an essentially infinite harmonic series. These harmonics, unless suppressed, will infiltrate all sensitive electronics near it.

Audiophiles go to great lengths to avoid EMI/RFI - this turntable should not make their efforts harder than need be, especially at the price!

Anton D's picture

Well done on noticing that!

Fascinating thing.

Kudos to you.

Snorker's picture

That noise is undoubtedly coming from a GSM mobile phone. It’s unmistakable.

AudioGuru's picture

Yes, well unless we can go back to the original venue and duplicate the circumstances, we'll never know, will we? In any event, prudence dictates further investigation in lieu of snap judgments. I've heard this same thing from IP based landline phones too. Since I work regularly with PWM, I've heard this sound from that many times. Slew rate limiting in conjunction with proper shielding usually resolves the problem if indeed it is from that source.

Its just something worth further investigation since it costs nothing to be on the safe side.

Snorker's picture

But why do you think the camcorder was picking up the interference from the motor controller? Couldn’t it just as easily – or more likely – have been a mobile phone being picked up by the phono stage? Your post is at least as much speculation as mine.

AudioGuru's picture

Of course it could be the phono stage picking up crud from a mobile phone. However, my question then is WHY IS THE PHONO STAGE SO UNABLE TO REJECT SUCH CRUD - A SUPPOSEDLY ULTRA HIGH END DEVICE SUPPOSEDLY BUILT BY THE BEST MINDS IN THE BUSINESS?

We would then still have a problem, wouldn't we.

I think this train of though has pretty much run its course. Neither of us were there, so we don't know without being able to duplicate the circumstances. I just brought up a point that _something_ was amiss and gave my estimation based on past experience (I am an engineer at a high end audio manufacturer, so I've been around this block a few times). You could be right. I could be right. Ralph, my next door neighbor could be right. We just don't know anything more than something should be looked at. That's all. End of discussion as far as I'm concerned.

Snorker's picture

Valid points all. Hope I didn’t come across as insulting. I do appreciate the input of someone who works on this for a living!

Ortofan's picture

... when MF is in the Paradigm and Elac display rooms.

AudioGuru's picture

If that is indeed the case, then my vote would be for the camcorder picking up EMI/RFI crud from MF's (or the videographer's) phone.

Lifer's picture

eminating from the oled screen on the power supply. You can hear him say it a couple minutes after the noise is picked up, and if you notice the noise starts when he turns the screen on. I paraphrase the Technics rep: 'the screen automatically goes out so that there is no noise from it'. Therefore it is not the power supply but the screen.

AudioGuru's picture

I've worked on products with LCD screens which had bad EMI/RFI to the extent that FCC approval was difficult. I my case the problem was solved by using a very fine stainless steel screen over the LCD panel, grounded to the chassis. This screen had a mesh which was so fine that it literally couldn't be seen from more than a couple inches away. Technics might investigate that fix.