My CES 2010 Show Report [Archive] - Audio & Video Forums

PDA

View Full Version : My CES 2010 Show Report



RGA
01-30-2010, 10:56 AM
My show report is slowly being uploaded - I have sent 10 sections in so far with at least 2 more to be made.

I am no photographer and you really realize how an external flash can help in rooms where lights are coming from all over the place.

Lot of good sound at CES from polar opposite designs. At the end of the report I intend to post my 5 favorite budget systems (speakers under $10k) and 5 favorite system (speakers over $10k). Basing it on the speakers makes some sense because generally speaking a $5k speaker is connected with more modest front end gear and expensive speakers usually had expensive front end gear. Plenty of exceptions but I needed to draw the line in the sand and speakers made the most sense.

What I found really interesting is that some of the people I auditioned gear with tended to agree with me on "most" rooms but then we would discuss a room and have completely opposite opinions. I liked the Magico room for example but another audiophile who had heard it disliked them quite a lot. So I can glean that there was a difference in source music. I think my report starts weak and gets stronger because I was in a hurry to get the pages in and didn't write a lot of commentary.

What was most interesting is that the systems in my top 5 consist of two ways, three ways+, panels, horns, ribbon/woofers, systems with SS and tube, etc.

I also tried to be as blunt as I could without being too negative.

page 1 http://www.dagogo.com/View-Article.asp?hArticle=650
page 2 http://www.dagogo.com/View-Article.asp?hArticle=683

My fellow writers - very nice guys and we shared the same views on most rooms - though we were way off on some.

http://www.dagogo.com/View-Event.asp?hEvent=25

cheers,
Richard G Austen

RGA
01-30-2010, 10:59 AM
I am sorry I already posted something similar on this forum - this is kind of a double post - please delete the older thread moderators if you can

Jim Clark
01-30-2010, 01:20 PM
Nice read, appreciate the effort you put in. I think I need to put this event on the calendar for next year.

jc

LeRoy
01-30-2010, 01:46 PM
Good job.

LeRoy

thekid
01-30-2010, 01:47 PM
RGA

Great read!
Nice to see what the other half listens to on gear I will never see much less listen to or own.

thanks for taking the time to write and post this info.

RGA
01-30-2010, 05:48 PM
Jim

I highly recommend you try and go. In October or so you can sign up. You have to claim that you are an industry affiliate - with a businees name but they don't check. Sign up early so you don't have to pay the $100 entry fee. they will mail you your badge.

Then you are out your flight and hotel but I paid $880 air and hotel for 5 nights and this from Canada.

I think this is probably the best money that you will ever spend on audio - and I consider it money spent on audio because you are paying for your long term education on which route to travel down long term. You hear the best of the best in most cases. The companies typically bring their top of the line pieces and all the rooms are pretty much the same. You also see which manufacturers choose which gear to run with their speakers or amps etc.

And you also see and hear stuff you would never otherwise audition - Studio Electric - never heard of them - quite nice. While I was there there was another Canadian - not a dealer or anything just a guy who signed up - anyway he bought a set - the Studio Electric guy will build them and ship them.

You get to meet the guys who actually design the gear, Richard Vandersteen was there for example, chatted with Ray Kimber and the head guy of Teresonic etc.

Just make sure you bring music with balls otherwise all you hear is Diana Krall and whatever male vocals equivalent I heard in many many rooms or some classical pieces which usually don't present systems with too much stress. You can also see which rooms will let you play difficult discs and which rooms shy away from it and like to control the music played and the volume - they have something to hide IMO.

The exception was Kimber who controlled the music but was there to promote "recordings" not the gear and the stuff he was playing - "High Altitude Drums" and complex full scale orchestreal works with organ at high levels, is another matter entirely.

I make note of this in later pages when they get posted. The editor is wading through piles of stuff and trying to piece it together so a few mistakes entered in there unfortunately.

RGA
02-06-2010, 01:10 PM
Fred Crowder covered a couple of rooms I did not - DartZeel and Tidal/BAlabo although I did audition the Dartzeel the room was busy and I only heard it for a tiny bit but I did like it - never returned the room. These hotels are big. It's amazing that I pretty much went 10am until 6pm Thur, Fri, Sat and until 4 on Sunday with maybe a 15 minute break and I still missed many rooms.

http://www.dagogo.com/View-Article.asp?hArticle=694

Feanor
02-06-2010, 01:44 PM
Thanks, Rich. Nice coverage from you, Fred, and Consantine.

RGA
02-21-2010, 11:32 PM
Some more coverage - yes we're slower than other sights but hey - it lasts longer...

Doug's coverage http://www.dagogo.com/View-Article.asp?hArticle=696

Fred's final coverage and conclusions http://www.dagogo.com/View-Article.asp?hArticle=699

My 3rd set http://www.dagogo.com/View-Article.asp?hArticle=705

Next up from me should be: Vandersteen, Aesthetix, Clearaudio, Rogue Audio, Wilson Sophia II, Bel Canto, Herron Audio, Audio Note (room 1 budget room).

RGA
02-22-2010, 04:02 PM
Okay the next set is up http://www.dagogo.com/View-Article.asp?hArticle=706

Next up will be Nola, Audio Research, Kondo(Audio Note Japan), Octave, Dynaudio, Mystere, Martin Logan, Prima Luna

RGA
02-24-2010, 11:40 PM
CES report number 16 is up - Nola, Audio Research, Kondo(Audio Note Japan), Octave, Dynaudio, Mystere, Martin Logan, Prima Luna

http://www.dagogo.com/View-Article.asp?hArticle=707

Nest Up:
Reference 3a Grand Veena,
Antique Sound Labs,
Sanders Sound Systems,
Gallo Reference 3.5 loudspeakers,
Uniwave Tek & ChatÍau Research loudspeakers,
Chang Lightspeed Audio

RGA
03-03-2010, 07:33 PM
Page 17 is up: Gallo's new 3.5 should interest many who love rock - and I bet there will be next to nothing better value for dollar wise for the home theater lovers.

I covered

Reference 3a Grand Veena,
Antique Sound Labs,
Sanders Sound Systems,
Gallo Reference 3.5 loudspeakers,
Uniwave Tek & ChatÍau Research loudspeakers,
Chang Lightspeed Audio

http://www.dagogo.com/home.asp



COMING SOON:

Teresonic
Avalon Acoustics
Karan Acoustics
Zanden Audio Systems
Sibatech
Sonist Loudspeakers
Glow Audio
Meridian

Acoustic Zen
Triode Corporation
Ensemble
King Sound
VAC
Ayon
Acapella
Einstein Audio
Bergman
Ypsilon

RGA
03-04-2010, 06:07 PM
Page 18 is up covering

Teresonic
Avalon Acoustics
Karan Acoustics
Zanden Audio Systems
Sibatech
Sonist Loudspeakers
Glow Audio
Meridian

http://www.dagogo.com/View-Article.asp?hArticle=715

Next Up:

Acoustic Zen
Triode Corporation
Ensemble
King Sound
VAC
Ayon
Acapella
Einstein Audio
Bergman
Ypsilon

Coming Soon

Wilson Audio MAXX3
Lamm Industries
PBN Audio
Edge Electronics
Silbatone Acoustics
Classic Audio

poppachubby
03-05-2010, 03:22 AM
Rich, I noticed Dagogo is covering AKFest. Will you be going? A couple of us are planning to attend.

RGA
03-05-2010, 07:47 AM
No I can only afford one show a year - if even that many.

Fred Crowder has been to most of them for the past 20+ years and his assessment has been similar at all of them. One reason I tried to be as thorough as possible because it may be quite some time before I get chance to hear them again. I hope you enjoy it. Having said that I would love to go to RMAF in October. It's tough for teachers to get the time off - I wish some of these shows were in July/August.

RGA
03-10-2010, 12:10 AM
Page 19 is up and they say I don't like panels

Covered some of the best panels you'll find and ones most audiophiles can afford. The Prince II from King Sound. Also covered truly great speakers from Acoustic Zen matched with affordable tubes from Triode Corp out of Japan and Acapella which are priced above $80,000 and sounded it.

http://www.dagogo.com/View-Article.asp?hArticle=717

Next Up:
Wilson Audio MAXX3
Lamm Industries
PBN Audio
Edge Electronics
Silbatone Acoustics
Classic Audio

Coming Soon:

Soundlabs
Trenner and Freidl
Viva Audio
Heed Audio
Gershman Acoustics
VAC
Manley Laboratories

RGA
03-10-2010, 09:34 PM
Yup me again

Page 20 is up covering one of the best rooms at the show and one that I might take grief on for nopt really loving despite the well over $200k price tag.

http://www.dagogo.com/View-Article.asp?hArticle=718

What didn't make the show report is the Silbatone group which is purely a millionaire's (actually they're in the billionaire camp I believe) toy company. A group of mega rich South Koreans got together to make a no holds bar system of musical pleasure based on their love of old horns - no doubt the Altec living voice which you will see in a number of high end shops in and around Seoul. I can't describe how gorgeous the sound here was on female vocals on a turntable that most would kill for and they were saying probably won't make the grade as a final production unit.

Next Up:

Soundlabs
Trenner and Freidl
Viva Audio
Heed Audio
Gershman Acoustics
VAC
Manley Laboratories
Classic Audio

Coming Soon:

MSB
Harbeth
Spender
Exposure
Scaena Loudspeakers
McIntosh
Kronzilla
Peak Consultant

And then the final rooms and favorite 5 budget rooms (under $10k based on speakers) and favorite 5 rooms (>$10k based on speaker price).

RGA
03-12-2010, 08:49 PM
We're nearing the end - this section had some absolutely great gear. Not really affordable gear but anyway. And one of the top five speakers I have ever auditioned - the RA box.

http://www.dagogo.com/View-Article.asp?hArticle=721

Next Up

MSB
Harbeth
Spender
Exposure
Scaena Loudspeakers
McIntosh
Kronzilla
Peak Consultant

Coming Soon - final rooms

EMM Labs
Sony Loudspeakers
Kimber Cable
Pass Labs
Boulder
Focal (JM Labs) Loudspeakers
Audio Note (The half million dollar+ system)
Cary Audio
Marten Loudspeakers

unit
03-19-2010, 04:44 PM
Hi Richard-
Awesome report on CES. Your impressions were detailed and give prospective buyers something to go on.
I am close to a speaker purchase. It's between the Usher BE-10 and Acoustic Zen Crescendo. I heard the Crescendo in Denver and liked it very much. I heard the Usher at another time and place and liked it a lot as well. They both appear to be in same ballpark in price.
Based on what you heard in Vegas, which one would you go with if you were me?
Also, would you mind saying how they differ and what strengths they offer?

RGA
03-19-2010, 05:12 PM
Choosing between the two really comes down to personal preference and based on just a show coverage I would not take it TOO seriously because the front end plays a huge role here. That's the diplomatic cover the ass comment.

I preferred the Acoustic Zen room and it the speakers almost made my top 5 (it was the runner up). To be fair to Usher they were still not quite set-up with their desired source but I liked the sound immensely. I personally just prefer the 3 dimensionality offered by tube front ends and the Acoustic Zen speakers are easier to accommodate lower powered front ends. They were close it should be said and I really liked the female vocals of the Ushers and I liked that they sounded cohesive (generally the bigger multi-ways don't). The Acoustic Zens may not have quite the impact the Ushers would be able to muster - not absolute but that's the impression I get.

It's not like either speaker outclasses the other - both were some of the best at the show IMO and far from being the priciest. I think the Usher has a higher impact sound while the Zen is a little more organic and perhaps lusher - but remember that the Zen had a tube front end while the Usher was using big SS and running state of the art recordings.

unit
03-19-2010, 05:25 PM
Thanks Richard!
I actually have the Tri 845 amp that was being paired with the Crescendo. I like it a lot.
So I guess it makes sense to go with the AZ.
Is the AZ resolving enough?
I'm sure I missed it here, but what were your Top 5 speakers at the show?

RGA
03-19-2010, 06:15 PM
Yeah I really liked the Tri gear - it also looks sexy and the prices are actually sane.

I don't want to give away my top five at this time because Dagogo is posting a couple of more of my reports where I divulge.

Though it is not a stretch to say that one of them is the Audio Note AN E/Spe HE at $7,600. I liked it more than either the Usher or Acoustic Zen - but people find me incredibly biased - I find me biased because of the sound. :-)

It should be noted that the US Audio Note importer apparently has also picked up Acoustic Zen - I find Mike and I agree on most things audio.

http://audiofederation.com/blog/categories/high-end-audio/acoustic-zen/

The AN E/Spe HE with Jinro amp - had just as much bass and volume capability as anything I heard at CES - they actually played them at serious levels. At the end of the day I desire cohesiveness is first priority - larger speakers have larger problems to overcome. The speakers in my top five just sound a little more cohesive and less like a loudspeaker is in the room. The single drivers and two ways typically have the advantage and you will see those in my top five than the larger loudspeakers which may have deeper bass or play louder but which sound more "speaker like" than life like. I also like the AN E/Spe HE because it's about half the price of the Usher or Acoustic Zen and even if they were all the same price I buy the AN E. But I also have a system that was designed for the AN E so it plays a major factor.

Another one to look at between the price points are the Teresonic Ingeniums - one of my fellow writers purchased them. But the bass of the Usher, Acoutcic Zen dig deeper but the midrange up on the Teresonic is better IMO. And 100db sensitive is pretty nice. They also look pretty cool which is somewhat of a consideration to some. The RA Box is absolutely awesome here as well but it costs $25k damn it.

I don't want my preferences to persuade you - There are piles of great loudspeakers and ultimately we all have a preference at the end of the day. The great Tannoy Prestige line was not at CES and the Kensington SE is a terrific loudspeaker for about $8,500 and they have upper models to consider as well.

unit
03-20-2010, 08:58 AM
Thanks again Richard.
I have heard a couple of older Tannoy drivers. A friend of mine has the Gold driver in a Cornetta curved back enclosure. It was quite nice, but could have used a bit more bass.
Another friend wrote a review of the Cornetta corner cabinet with the Red driver. http://www.6moons.com/audioreviews/tannoy/cornetta.html
I didn't get a chance to hear this, but he said the bass was incredible, while the rest of the frequency response was also great. I guess they are unobtanium now however.
I guess with the cabinet plans and the cost of two drivers and the cost of either having someone make the cabinet or do it yourself, you have an outstanding speaker at a fraction of the cost of most speakers in it's class.
Another dual-concentric speaker is the WLM Diva. http://www.wlm-loudspeakers.com/indexengl.html
Have you ever heard these? They are very efficient as well.

RGA
03-20-2010, 10:11 AM
Unit - the other thing is the size of the room which I should have noted - I suspect you have a larger room which is why you are looking at the Crescendo and Usher - the AN E is designed for medium or smaller large rooms - 200 square meters and you have to have them in corners.

I have not heard products from WLM - but now I want to LOL. No matter how many companies you hear there are always a lot more out there.

I generally prefer the "simple" solution. There is less to advertise but they tend to get to the point. You are correct though in that getting the bass is somewhat of a challenge and it depends on how much you personally need.

RGA
03-20-2010, 10:13 AM
Report number 22 is up covering:

MSB
Harbeth
Spender
Exposure
Scaena Loudspeakers
McIntosh
Kronzilla
Peak Consultant

http://www.dagogo.com/View-Article.asp?hArticle=729


Last rooms are coming soon:

EMM Labs
Sony Loudspeakers
Kimber Cable
Pass Labs
Boulder
Focal (JM Labs) Loudspeakers
Cary Audio
Marten Loudspeakers
Audio Note (The half million dollar+ system)

RGA
05-08-2010, 03:19 PM
I am wrapping this up here as Dagogo is currently busy preparing for the California Audio Show. http://www.caaudioshow.com/

But I hate leaving things unfinished so here is the last set.


IsoMike / Kimber Cable, EMM Labs/ Sony / Pass Labs

Walking into this large room Ray Kimber was explaining to listeners how IsoMike recordings are made and discussing the new flagship Sony Loudspeakers. My first thought was SONY!! Yes with exclamation marks. You have to be kidding me? Looking over at the electronics and seeing Pass Labs, EMM Labs and Kimber cables and Ray himself touting the Sony Loudspeakers I though okay let’s spend some time here and get into a good listening seat. Ray put on a couple of IsoMike Jazz pieces from Joe McQueen and the sound was insightful and powerful. Sony? Really? Wow this is pretty good. Have to tip my cap. Next up was High Altitude drums – an impressive disc of, as you would expect, drumming. The macro-dynamics of this system was indeed very impressive – the soundstage was huge in all directions and terrific non-thumping bass depth and drive. Very well controlled and from what I could gather a pretty neutral response top to bottom. I can see why Ray was so enthused about the loudspeakers. Interestingly, some people whose ears I trust and often agree didn’t care for the sound. Still, I auditioned this room for quite some time and I think the overall sound was robust articulate and fast. I think if I had any criticism it would be in the layering of subtle details and micro-dynamics, but those are minor quibbles since the sound generated scale and drive quite well. Still, I would like to hear the system with my own recordings but this was a room all about the recording process and while Ray was not taking requests, a complaint I had about many rooms, he did at least choose extremely demanding recording material.

RGA
05-08-2010, 06:25 PM
Audio Note - picture on the main page http://www.dagogo.com/

Audio Note had two rooms at CES and I reported on the more affordable system earlier in the report. Audio Note is one of those oddball companies that seem to defy plausibility. They brought their top of the line TT3 turntable (price not provided but the turntable has three separate large boxes each driving one of the turntables motors and another control box for speed changes), top of the line Preamp M9 ($115,000) and Gaku-On 45 watt monoblock parallel single ended amplifiers ($185,000), CDT-Three Transport ($9,550), DAC 5 Signature ($76,500), Pallas, SOOTO, and Sogon cables and two way AN-E Sec Signature loudspeakers ($51,000) using Alnico drivers for both the tweeters and woofers. The system generated an impressive landscape of full body vocals and tremendous bottom end thunder and impeccable treble response. More importantly the sound was spot on cohesive top to bottom. The system is designed to get out of the way and bring musical nuance, subtlety, and offer first class resolution of the musical event, regardless of the music used. And Audio Note succeeded.

I liked that, like owner Peter Qvortrup, the U.S. distributors and husband and wife duo Mike and Neli of www.audiofederation.com/ were unafraid to play any music at any volume of any recording quality. It was interesting to listen to an LP that was rather noisy with a female soprano with obvious limitations in upper end dynamics and still being able to enjoy the music. Later another soprano, this time clearly well recorded and the music reproduction was as good as I have ever heard. I revisited the room a few times and eventually auditioned some of the harder hitting metal, techno, punk, house and trance music. If you’re thinking – why on earth would you play that kind of music on a tube based system costing over a half a million dollars? My answer would be, “why on earth wouldn’t you?” A good system needs to play everything well and any system that can’t play everything well probably has some sort of problem.

Martin Grennall one of Audio Note’s hugely knowledgeable music guys was gracious enough to step aside despite being captivated by two duelling pianos. He put on the Evil 9 from part of the Fabriclive series and like the lower priced Audio Note system this system could truly rock with controlled deep tight bass lines and outstanding drive and dynamics and in room “pressure” of instruments. And of course we played it at ridiculous levels just to push the envelope a little. I don’t believe in best of show statements because personal taste is a factor and people respond to different kinds of sounds. That said, I can say that I heard nothing better than the two Audio Note rooms at CES. Take from that what you like.

RGA
05-08-2010, 06:26 PM
Boulder / Focal

There was big robust powerful sound with deep tight bass and open precise treble response from the Boulder/ Focal room. The Focal JM Lab Maestro Utopias look quite nice and sound like a big bold loudspeaker. They lean to the analytical side of the spectrum in that you can hear what the drivers are doing which usually bothers me but here it didnít. I canít explain why but this is one of those cases where the big macrodynamics and precise nature of the system allowed me forgive its slight lack of microdynamics and ability to get out of the way. I felt I was listening to truly technically impressive hi-fi sound. Whether it will have enough of the ďmusicalĒ lightness of touch will be a matter of taste.

RGA
05-08-2010, 06:36 PM
Cary Audio / Marten / Tara Labs

Cary Audio was showing their new 211 Founders Edition Amplifiers running $20k a pair into the beautiful Marten Coltrane Loudspeakers. The sound here was very sweet and refined and had exceptional vocal reproduction. Bass was on the lean quick side than deep and dynamic. I really enjoyed the sound here but had the sense that both the Cary and the Marten would find better partnering gear elsewhere. The Martenís might like a more robust amplifier and the Cary might be better served with an easier to drive loudspeaker. Still, the midrange was glorious, tempered and layered with a sense of beauty.

poppachubby
05-09-2010, 02:22 AM
Great stuff Rich!! I am almost certain that I want to attend next year's CES. The Poppa Chubby Speaker Company has just been formed...

RGA
05-09-2010, 11:58 AM
Conclusion

CES 2010 is over and there were many fine rooms at CES 2010 and some rooms I didn’t get much of an opportunity to audition. A number of rooms were hampered by their choice of room size while other rooms were hampered by their set-up and possibly their associated gear. Still, I have decided to select my 5 favourite budget rooms that had loudspeakers retailing for under $10,000 and my five favourite rooms with speakers above $10,000.

Rooms with speakers under $10,000 (alphabetical order):

• Audio Note AN-E/Spe HE Loudspeakers http://www.dagogo.com/View-Article.asp?hArticle=706

• Gallo 3.5 http://www.dagogo.com/View-Article.asp?hArticle=713 Perhaps the most surprising in that I didn't care much for the 3.1

• Kingsound Prince II Electrostatic loudspeakers http://www.dagogo.com/View-Article.asp?hArticle=717 Finally a panel I would be happy with - though I'd still probably want a sub.

• Sonist Recital 3 loudspeakers http://www.dagogo.com/View-Article.asp?hArticle=715 Least expensive speakers on the list.

• Studio Electric Type Three Loudspeakers http://www.dagogo.com/View-Article.asp?hArticle=683 Who? Yeah a 2 man operation took out a lot of big boys.


Rooms with speakers above $10,000 (alphabetical order):

• Acapella High Violoncello II http://www.dagogo.com/View-Article.asp?hArticle=717 The most expensive on the list

• Audio Note AN-E Sec Signature Discussed above in post #27 and Fred Crowder's report for similar response and pictures http://www.dagogo.com/View-Article.asp?hArticle=694

• Silbatone Aporia Full Range http://www.dagogo.com/View-Article.asp?hArticle=718

• Teresonic Ingenium loudspeakers http://www.dagogo.com/View-Article.asp?hArticle=715 These speakers like Audio Note can be purchased in versions under $10,000.

• Trenner and Friedl RA Box http://www.dagogo.com/View-Article.asp?hArticle=721