I think the Wadia iPod dock that allowed TRUE digital output was likely the greatest inovation. Bel Canto is working on a similar unit, this is the first time outside of MSB's mod to the iPod that it could actually be used as a good server.
The Wadia Dock was indeed impressive this allows you to purchase a state of the art Music Server and DAC from Wadia for just over $4,400.00. So ditto. I will be evaluating this unit in my shop when it becomes available to verify if the unit sounds good or not.
Resolution Audio also as an amazing CD front end. The Opus 21 which is a great CD player now will morph into a streaming receiver so you can store your music on your computer and the stream to the fabulous DAC's in the CD player and at the same time if you must want to play a single un stored cd you can, and with a wifi interface you can control the piece via a Ipod or Iphone. Way cool.
The demo in the Vivid/Luxman room was mind blowing, fast, effortless, dynamic with stunning realism.
The new Manly Stingray with a built in IPod dock and RF remote was fantastic sounding, and with the best set of features I have ever seen, and reasonably priced.
The new Proclaim speakers were awesome with a full Cary rig, this was a joy to listen to and the price of the system was way less than what many others were using.
The Merrill turntable was amazing no surface noise present, with an amazing set of design attributes at a reasonable price for a reference table the $8,000.00 MS 2 shares almost all the technology of its big brother. Also the baby Kuzma table at $3,500.00 sounded a lot like its bigger $30,000.00 brother which was better but the baby Kuzma is a steal!
The Synergistic Tesla demo was also a standout. The Tube based Enigma power supply looked amazing. The system with the Active shielding turned off sounded okay, when the units were turned back on the sound stage was amazing with sounds floating in space with a liquidity that made the system a joy to listen to.
The Volent speakers from Hong Kong were both affordable and very impressive. Volent makes their own world class ribbon tweeters, the VL 3 uses a ribbon which goes up to 100k effortlessly, and then uses a fast 3 inch Jordan midrange crossed over to the famous ATC 7 inch titanium woofer to handle the bass. This is the same one used by Magico in the first mini. For $9600.00 this speaker put to shame many really expensive speakers and the Vl 3 is very narrow.
Speakers was my main point of interest, Avalon Indra and Isophon really stood out for me. Was a fantastic opportunity to hear the the ceramic mids with both the Western Electric 300b amp in the Isophon room against the solid state DC amps in the Avalon setup. Kept going back and forth, wish I had the Scratch for the Arrabas. Another great system was the right across the Indras at the Lamm room, never heard Wilsons sound so smooth.
if sound is the criteria, there was only one speaker which presented music in the least unrealistic manner.
i heard all of the so-called great speakers, including, emerald physics, coincident, eventus audio, hansen, dali, magico--need i say more ? compared to the roger sanders hynbrid electrostatic panel, they all sounded ersatz and electronic.
from 400 hz on up, what you hear is so pure, with timbre that reminds you that you are listening to an instrument , rather than a recording.
all others paled in comparison.
Roger Sanders new Innersound was one of the best. King Sound electrostatic speaker from China was great. Evolution acoustics was good. Vandersteen 5A was good. Burmeister had boomy bass. Magico was terrible.
Hands down Magico room!!!!!!Followed by Vandersteen 5a and Devore Silverbacks. Evolution driven by Dartzeel was eye candy but the sound was a little disappointing.
The "NFS" room at the T.H.E. Show! "NOTHING FOR SALE"
Anybody that spent anytime there knows exactly what I'm talking about. God Bless you both, Doc and Mike! As far as I'm concerned, you guys have been elevated to "SAINTHOOD" for your hospitality, generosity, great taste in music, interior design, AND spirits.
IMHO: In the last 3 years, the CES has gone downhill, but the NFS room just gets better...like a fine wine.
You guys Rock!
Traffic and 4 different exhibition places around the city, just unbelievable .
Complete heresy and chaos.
NR 1 for organization and hiking prices.
VIVA LAS VEGAS !!!!
I liked YG Acoustics.
Reference Audio Mods - for the money.
Analog & interesting - cartridge man's phono/cart combo.
and few others.
( did not have time to get to Venetian, so my exp. is somewhat limited))
I agree, what happened to the "old Vegas"? I havent' been there since '91 and I couldn't get over the prices of food, rooms and cabs. Everywhere you turn somebody needs 10 bucks!!!
Most of the rooms we visited found sounded good to great but always reminded me of a hifi system. Only a couple really transported us to another level of listening.
Anyway, I have to say my wife and I were REALLY impressed by the MBL room even though we were too afraid to ask "how much". There was real transparency and soundstaging that I've simply never heard before. That said, shortly after we went into the Gallo room and were very impressed with the new Reference models. I went back 3 times for another listen.
Magnepan put on a pretty impressive demo of their moterized wall mount speakers. We thought the classical selection was increadible. Vocals were slightly larger than life but it still tonally great.
My wife enjoyed the Sunny Cables room and I agree that it sounded superb and she also was really taken by the Mark and Daniel room at the Alexis Park. They were playing the Rubies (I think), with some very reasonably priced electroncis from the Audio Zone, cabling by Dynamic Design and a Modwright CD.
As fun as it was to hear all of this increadible gear, maybe a word to the manufactures demoing tunes would be for them to get a little creative in the music selections. One tends to hear the same thing in every room. If the audio world only works for a handfull of recordings, whats the point.
Cheers and thanks for all of the responses.
When I said Cartridge Man - I meant Soundsmith.
The Exemplar server in LSA and FIM suites and the Blue Smoke server in Rockport and the Reference 3A Grand Veenas at THE Show. Most everything else was the usual disappointment of green equipment and poor rooms. I found nothing that much interested me other than the servers.
Tbg, I also missed my own system but few thing caught my eye. Lots of tubes, servers, computer chips, few nice TT and hybrids.
Bridging different technologies together...............
My best experience was at the Venetian, the room with:
Hansen, "The King" speakers
Turntable with Triplanar arm and Koetsu Coral
CAT preamp and amps.
We spun a few of the new 45 RPM Blue Note Jazz albums, dynamics and detail were breathtaking.
Common, are you telling me that I have missed few of the best rooms.........???
Actually Hansen played "The Prince" model, and I agree- the sound was breathtaking.
The other speakers I liked:
3A Reference "Grand Veena",
Evolution Acoustics MM3,
Coincident Tech. "Pure Reference",
Silverline Audio "Grandeur"
New flagship from Acoustic Zen,
Unlike the previous CES, I thought many systems sounded very, very good.
Your right, it was the Prince, thanks for catching that !
I had King on the brain because I picked up the literature for "The King V2," I wanted to read about their top model after hearing the demo. I wish "The King" was not so much money, I think $90K or something close to that.
I'm embarrassed to have not known about this speaker before now. It appears to have been nominated as best sound at several shows, including CES last year.
Just too much data to take in over the few days allotted to view all the rooms. Even harder for me, concentrating on photo coverage.
The most musical sounding room and the one that I couldn't stop listening to was the McIntosh room. I kept requesting the new James Taylor reissued Sweet Baby James album and just got lost in the music. Sure some rooms may have sounded more accurate or whatever adjective you want to use to describe them. But, as a listening experience I enjoyed McIntosh the most.
My "best of CES 2k8" room in the "megabuck" category would be the Sonicweld room. Credit also due Cryoparts and Locus Design Group. To my ears, the Sonicweld Pulserods were more natural-sounding than the dozen or so other, more well-known megabuck loudspeakers I heard.
In the "multiple kilobucks" category, I'd nominate Classic Audio Reproductions (with the field-coil midrange driver). Credit also to Atma-Sphere and Triplanar. Also liked the TAD Pioneer room and the Quad room (and a bunch of others, but I have to stop somewhere).
In the "kilobuck and under" category, I'd nominate Tyler Acoustics (don't remember what the electronics were, but Ty told me the system retailed for about ten grand).
#1 was the Vandersteen 5a room. These 22k speakers embarrassed types costing 10 times as much!
#2 was the Perfect 8 Technology Glass speakers (275k/pair)
#3 was Coincident Technology room
#4 was the top of the line Kharma room
#5 were the JAS speakers I heard right at the end with a familiar cut from Dead Can Dance. Those things cranked!
And all the manufacturers smart enough to bring small speakers/floorstanders that actually integrated into the room sounded good as well. How these manufacturers can justify cramming behemoths into small rooms deserved the poor sound they got! For heavens sake, spring the extra $100 on a larger room at the Venetian. VMPS room comes to mind--boom, boom, boom, had to leave the room....And don't get me started on the Burmeister room, yuck!
YG (remember, best speakers on earth, period) got "OK" sound from a tonal balance perspective, but somebody needs to teach them how to set up a system. Speakers were placed some 16 feet apart and we were 8 feet back. No center filled image to speak of! Soundstage was poor. But, the free cd they gave away made up for all that!
I did not care for the 340k demo from Sound Labs either. Wait till you guys see some pics from that room. And they had 4 speakers crammed in there for a surround demo!
Did not care for the Sanders speakers, but I'm in the minority there as my friends loved them. Vocalists sound like they are singing through sheets to me. Everything is veiled. Not open enough or lively enough for me. I heard the same thing with the Quads and the Chinese King Sound electrostats, so my ears must just not like that whole topology.
NFS room was awesome!! Need to get one of those projectors stat!
Overall I was dissapointed with the sound at the Venitian, I think the guys at Alexis and Tropez were getting a more cohesive sound. Also, people were playing things waaaay too loud most of the time which did not help the sound of their setups. If your getting bad sound--turn it down or off and run a static display!
Oh I totally forgot the Hansen room. YUP Albert, your right, the sound in there was excellent. Got me lookin closer at the Triplanar arm to replace my ET2 but....
joeljoel, What was the title or first track of the YG disc? I am wondering if it was the same as last year or if I missed another great demo CD.
1st track is Kari Bremnes "Coastal Ship". I'm guessing the same as LY as it's copyrighted 2004.
Also, discs were given out by Usher (same as last years) and Blue Coast Records.
Forgot to put in my initial post the great sound from the MBL room! That was a winner too, probably #4...
Shows how everyone hears a little different. I thought the YG Acoustics sounded good. Wasn't too impressed with the Soundlabs though, really quite boring...
I thought the Reference YG speakers sounded very good especially in the terrible room. I have never heard anything sound good in the mezzanine rooms. I didn't bother with the MBL, Soundlab, or Hansen rooms. I did not like the fact that the sweet spot was so narrow on the Sander's speaker but did think they were well integrated.
The Reference 3As were in my opinion the best speakers at the CES with the Rockport less expensive speakers getting quite close on Thursday.
So you didn't think the YG's lacked a solid center image due to their super wide spacing?
All I heard were two seperate speakers playing in the ends of the room. As messed up as that positioning was, I still felt the sound was OK but not as good as it could of been. But they were most likely thinking that since seating was 6 across, they wanted to spread the speakers out.
The Scanspeaks they are using are excellent and I use one of their current mids in my own design. They have the right idea IMHO, passive sat and active subs are the only way to go to get a speaker to integrate properly into any given room.
Joel, I heard both sets of speakers and actually liked the small ones a bit better. Maybe that was due to too wide of spacing.
At the show I wasn't really looking for imaging as much as the tonal quality of the product. Typically a few degrees off of placement can destroy a decent image and I'm sure the manuf. were trying to cater to larger audiences. I could be wrong too...
One thing I can't get out of my head is the Gallo Ref 5's. They were probably our faves.
MBL had incredible sound (even though the guy running the system on Wed. was a schmuck).
The MBL set-up was freakish and when brought to hi levels seemed to get grainny and not at all lifelike in the mid range. I thought the Totem room more pleasing to listen to. (And you could buy a nice condo in Vegas with the price dif)
Pass Labs SR1 was a very engaging speaker that made it hard to leave the room.
Davore Silverbacks were stunnng
Usher "Tiny Dancer" was disappointing, lacking depth and realism - could have been any number of things though but they didn't sound very good. Bad luck being next to Totem also, which always does a great job with settng up.
Escalante Freemonts powered by Electrocomaniet is magical
For HT i thought the Definetive Mythos STS was nice for the price.
Mac TT was unique
All things Wadia were leading edge tech. By far the most impressive product line. Those guys do things right.
Clarity Cables digital remastering does an incredible job.
The Tiny Dancer is an incredibly overhyped speaker IMO.
Comparably priced monitors such as the Harbeth 7ES-3 and SPL Timepiece Mini absolutely smoke the TD.
The $2500/pair LSA1-Statements were far superior to the Usher Tiny Dancers.
I heard the Tiny Dancers at C.E.S. and they rocked. I listened to pretty much all the high end brands in Vegas that were at C.E.S. and I think the Tiny Dancers award was well deserved. They need to be powered well. I'm kind of sick of people judging speakers with low powered 30 watt amps, and then saying that the speakers aren't very good. Power them correctly and you will be rewarded. I don't have the Tiny Dancers, but after hearing them perform I am strongly considering them.
Follow up to my last post. I have the Usher Tiny Dancers in my possesion for demo right now. Paired with a Parasound A21 250wpc stereo amp, JC-2 preamp, and D3 player, these speakers really are something special. They have body, and weight that you would expect from a floorstander, and are capable of high sound pressure levels pretty effortlessly. They like power and reward you for it. The highs from the Beryllium tweeter are among the best I've heard. They are very detailed without being harsh in any way. Also, I have to mention that the construction on the Dancer series speakers is the nicest I've seen on a speaker. It really is what "High End" should be. They have gourgeous cabinets, a billet name plaque on the front, and the binding posts are a work of art. Also, I have to mention, these things are HEAVY. They are almost 40 lbs ea! It's pretty suprising for a two way bookshelf the first time you pick them up. Any review wouldn't be complete without a nitpick, but I just can't think of one. I guess the piano gloss might be easy to scratch if you aren't carefull, but that's the tradeoff for piano gloss finishes. I can't see at all how they can be called "overhyped".
What really is going to be awesome, is when Usher completes the Tiny Dancer bass module to go underneath them. (they are working on it) This should allow it to compete with the much more expensive Wilsons, Joseph Audios, and Von Sweikerts out there as a full range tower. When that happens, they will find permanent residence in my listening room.