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Positive Feedback ISSUE 59
january/february 2012


CES 2012 Day 1 - Part 1
by Pete Davey


CES! I love looking forward to another year of cool new products, hoping to see something groundbreaking or to hear some sound that is breathtaking. Every year I go, I tell myself that I'll bring my own 'tunes because I'm honestly sick of hearing the same old music every time I go there. Some of these manufacturers seem to forget that it's not just about the gear; it's about the music! Ok, I get it, some of the music they play really makes their system sound dynamic, loud, awesome—but if I can't get past the fact that "If I hear this same song again I'm going to wretch" I won't be able to connect with the equipment.

Yes, that means "Chris Jones, No Sanctuary here" and "Nils Lofgren, Keith don't go". Please, cut it out.

During the year of 2011, I kept a notepad in my car and left a random stream of music from my multi-terabyte server to my car during my commute to work and back and wrote down songs that I think would be fun to hear. I lost count of how many times people wanted a copy of my CD or to write down the contents.

OK, without further adieu, you will probably see more pictures than words, as it was quite overwhelming at times…

Oh, and if I really liked the sound / synergy of the system, I give a rating of "Harmonious Haven".


Harmonious Haven

Why did I choose this room first out of all of them? Well, Dan Meinwald is a friend of mine and I needed a place to leave my jacket! Plus, I really wanted to see / hear the new Djangos from Marten. Stunning speakers. I played a few tracks here and talk about nice, all for $15,000 US!

Marten Django

E.A.R. Prototype SACD / DAC on the bottom right. No part # or price just yet. Quite an upgrade from their standard CD player! Nice dot-matrix display… and it does DSD.

DH Labs, Inc. / Mystere / Primaluna USA

Furutech / ADL

Furutech is introducing a new line of iPod / iPhone / iPad cables.

ADL introducing their Espirit lithium ion powered DAC / Amplifiers. Cool stuff!


DEQX is known for their active digital crossovers but their emphasis this year was on using their prototype HDP-4 with speakers and their existing crossovers—you don't have to be a speaker designer to use DEQX with any of their processors. They had a way of switching it on and off to hear the difference and wow I was really amazed. I've never heard speaker and room correction that I liked but it really worked. Once switched on the soundstage snapped in place and vocals sounded much cleaner.

On a Higher Note

This is Philip OHanlon's "smaller" line of equipment from Luxman, Vivid and Brinkmann. Later on you'll see his other suite of larger Giya speakers and stereo Luxman solid-state amplifiers.

Bladelius Design Group

Nice mono block amps "Ymer" and a music server called "Embla". It's a all-in-one device consisting of many options (DAC, ADC, etc). It ranges from $3-9K depending on what you want. Kind of cool for those that don't need certain options but can always upgrade down the road. This would allow one to leave iTunes and a computer and has a great iPad app for the interface / remote.

Modwright Instruments, Inc. / AudioMachina

Mr. Modwright (Dan) does it again with his stunning hybrid amplifiers single-ended preamplifiers.

KWA-150 Hybrid Amp - $8495, LS 100 Tube Pre Amplifier - $3495 ($4695 w / optional DAC 24 / 192 Async), KWI 200 Solid State integrated - $6495 with DAC and Photo stage. Pretty cool. Cool blue LED room lighting – included!

Vienna Acoustics

Lovely new looking speakers called the Beethoven Imperial Grand.

MK Sound


Immediately I walked in and saw this...

And thought – wow that is kinda cool looking! I'm a sucker for natural wood finishes… I didn't get to hear this one though. What I did listen to was their new omnidirectional

Those little cones on top can be unscrewed and replaced with ones that match your décor. The sound was nice and open! These were called the Mojo and were a 2–way design consisting of a mid / tweeter firing up, and a woofer firing down. I was blown away by their imaging and presence. Cost $2300.

NTT / Audiolab

Introducing the 103MK2 speaker. Very serious looking speaker, amazingly dead cabinet and very heavy. The sound was very nice. $160,000 US retail.

Yes they also make REALLY nice stands as well…

QAT Audio Technology Ltd.

I spent a little while longer in this room, always love finding new innovative products that tie audiophiles in with the present times. They were debuting their music server device (MS-5 / RD-5). The retail is $5990 with a remote (tablet running Android) or $5500 sans remote. What I really liked about this server was the interface they had written for the iPad. It was very smooth and graphical but not overcomplicated. They obviously invested a lot of time and money into the app and I think that is VERY important when designing a music server.


Marten's "official" room also debuting the Django speakers and their Class D amplifiers. The combination was nice but not as nice as the E.A.R. combination in my opinion.

Oracle Audio / Induction Dynamics / WBT-USA

Debuting their CD-250 for $3500 and their DAC 250 which does USB 24 / 192.

Also showing their Paris line of turntables, very cool looking! I could see one of these in my audio system.

Speakers are by Induction Dynamics – S1.8T. Beautiful cabinetry.

Eventus Audio / Audia Flight

New Eventus Nebula speaker

Audio Power Labs

These guys build some seriously large amplifiers using the famous 833 power (transmitter) tubes.

The 833INT couldn't even be demoed at the Venetian because it drew 13 amps from a 10 amp receptacle, and you know what happens when you do that! Later on I have a report from THE Show with them being used.

Another shot of a different set of monoblocks using lesser-powered tubes, these are prototypes

Wadax / Echole Cables / Stillpoints LLC

Wadax La Pasion speaker – Powered 3-way digital loudspeaker (see the amps at the bottom of the stands?) $106,500.

Wadax PRE-1 Preamp / Phono Stage / DAC

New Stillpoints isolation devices – Ultra Mini. Stainless steel, $125 a piece.

This one is a beast – Ultra 5 - $649 Ea. I remember being told that they put these underneath pianos!

Krell Industries Inc.

Evolution 400e - $24,000.

New monoblocks / CD Players

Jeff Roland Design Group

Usher Audio Technology / JPS Labs

New drivers from Usher...

Beautiful new speakers from Usher – BE20

Part 2 Coming soon!