Cuttin-Edge, On-the-Spot Reporting

SnapShots! 2

Candid photos at High End 2013 (taken May 11-12)

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Product Coverage Gallery 3

Companies featured in gallery below: Audio-Technica, Spendor, Hegel Music Systems, Ayre Acoustics, NAD, Arcam, PSB, Vienna Acoustics, Pro-Ject, Astell&Kern, Opera Only, Rosso Fiorentino, Bel Canto Design, Straussmann, CH Precision

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Product Coverage Gallery 2

Companies featured in gallery below: Dynaudio, Grimm Audio, Sonus Faber, Wadia, Octave Audio, T+A, Audio Research, Crystal Cable, Penaudio, Apoll Acoustics, Gato Audio, Kaiser Acoustics, Auris Audio, Aurelia

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SnapShots! 1

Candid photos at High End 2013 (taken May 9-10)

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Product Coverage Gallery 1

Companies featured in gallery below: Gryphon Audio Designs, KEF, Nordost, AudioQuest, PMC, Tidal Audio, Audio Physic, Devialet, Simaudio, Naim Audio, Avantgarde Acoustic, Gauder Akustik, Soulution, Constellation Audio

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Amphion’s €10,000 "Mastering-Quality System"

Amphion's Anssi Hyvönen brings an interesting topic of discussion to every event in which he and his company participate. For High End 2013, the topic was studio-quality sound for the home for a reasonable price and without much inconvenience.

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What KEF's M500 Headphones Look, Feel, and Sound Like

Last week KEF surprised everyone by jumping into the headphone market with the introduction of the M500 on-ear cans and M200 in-ear monitors. But is it any surprise? Hardly. This is the fastest-growing segment of hi-fi right now, so with speaker companies such as B&W, Focal, and Paradigm offering 'phones of their own, the folks at KEF probably thought they should too.

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Making Your Own Drivers -- Does it Matter? (Part 3)

In "Part 1" and "Part 2" of this series of articles, I highlighted why it can be important for loudspeaker companies to make their own drivers. One reason is that, as a loudspeaker manufacturer matures, their capabilities grow, and showcasing that newfound growth can be important for the brand. From a more technical perspective, some loudspeaker designers naturally want to control the entire engineering process so that the final products are more wholly their own. These are extremely valid reasons either alone or in concert with one another.

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Making Your Own Drivers -- Does it Matter? (Part 2)

Yesterday I examined the question that I know has been burning in your mind: does it matter if a loudspeaker company makes its own drivers? I answered in the affirmative, using the new Sonus Faber Olympicas as an example of why it can be important. And to whom. In Sonus Faber's case, it shows that the loudspeaker company has reached a certain level of maturity in their engineering and has improved their overall technical and logistical capabilities. In other words, they can really make a loudspeaker line. Make as in make.

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Devialet for the Masses

Devialet's Manuel de la Fuente opened the company's May 9 press conference with some important remarks, but probably the most important for me was this one: "What is the future for our industry if everything simply keeps on getting more expensive?"

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Making Your Own Drivers -- Does It Matter? (Part 1)

The subject of making your own drivers comes up at shows. The loudspeaker companies that are doing it themselves like to brag about it, while those that don't . . . well, they don't tend to mention it. To the consumer, as far as I can tell, it doesn't really seem to matter all that much. But should it?

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January 11 Product Coverage Gallery 2

Companies featured in gallery below: Silverline Audio, Verity Audio, AudioQuest, TechDAS, Vertere, Genesis Advanced Technologies, Auralic, Vitus Audio, AVM-Tec, Chord Electronics, Van den Hul, Zanden Audio Systems, Kondo Audio Note, Jamo, Polk Audio

All prices in US dollars unless otherwise indicated

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January 11 Product Coverage Gallery 1

Companies featured in gallery below: Crystal Cable, EMM Labs, PSB, Audio-Technica, Beyerdynamic, HiFiMAN, NuForce, Samsung, Harmonic Resolution Systems, Vandersteen, Raidho Acoustics, Bel Canto Design, T+A, Esoteric, Krell, Rockport Technologies

All prices in US dollars unless otherwise indicated

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January 10 Product Coverage Gallery

Companies featured in gallery below: Rega, Tri-Planar, Calyx Audio, Naim Audio, Shunyata Research, Alpha Design Labs, Micromega, Rogue Audio, EgglestonWorks, DeVore Fidelity, Dynaudio, Octave Audio, Vincent, Arcam, DH Labs, Penaudio, NAD

All prices in US dollars unless otherwise indicated

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January 9 Product Coverage Gallery

Companies featured in gallery below: McIntosh Labs, Lamm, YG Acoustics, Stello, Boulder Amplifiers, Verastarr, Pass Labs, MBL, Ayre Acoustics, Wadia, Cambridge Audio, Parasound, HRT, Tri-Art, GoldenEar Technology, Anthony Gallo Acoustics

All prices in US dollars unless otherwise indicated

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January 8 Product Coverage Gallery

Companies featured in gallery below: Audio Research, Sonus Faber, REL, Magico, Constellation Audio, Simaudio, MartinLogan, Hegel Music Systems, Torus Power, Luxman, Definitive Technology, Neodio, Bryston, Musical Fidelity

All prices in US dollars unless otherwise indicated

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2012 Products of the Year Award Winners

Companies featured in this gallery: Aurender, Meitner Audio, Sonus Faber, Audio Research, Magico, Simaudio, Definitive Technology, NAD, Paradigm, Hegel, Cambridge Audio, KEF, Vivid Audio

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Magico’s Mellifluous S1

I hardly intended to write a piece about Magico. The California-based company has received a great deal of exposure on our Ultra Audio website. No, I resolved to profile something high-performance that had heretofore flown under the proverbial radar. Yet as I stopped by the Magico room and took in their newest offering -- the two-way S1 loudspeaker -- I suddenly had no interest in writing about anything else.

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Preamp Evolution -- McIntosh, YBA, Vitus Audio

Earlier in my CES coverage I highlighted the Parasound Halo P5 and Primare Pre32 as examples of a growing trend in the audio industry: the combination of an analog preamp and a digital-to-analog converter (DAC). I came across three more of these evolutionary components, but at considerably higher prices.

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Virtual System 2: Magico, Wadia, Crystal Cable, Apple

System 2 price: $30,799

Simplicity can be a beautiful thing -- in this case, both in form and function, and in sound. In this virtual system -- a combination of new products that I dreamed up while walking around CES -- I start with the elegantly slim Magico S1 ($12,600/pr.), the new entry-level two-way floorstander from the Berkeley, California-based company. The S1 features the company's Nano-Tec cone material, this time in an all-new 7-incher that handles bass and midrange duties. The beryllium tweeter is the same as seen and heard in the larger S5. This speaker sounds huge compared to many speakers I heard at CES that were much larger -- jaws dropped when these babies were cranked up. Perfect start.

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Budget Finds from Roger the Cheapskate

Call me a cheapskate, but I'm always on the lookout for great budget gear. When my colleagues at the SoundStage! Network start talking about $20,000 power amplifiers or $50,000 speakers that offer good value, I am usually not as enthused as they are. So when I come across a high-quality component that has been designed and manufactured by a specialty audio company and costs less than $1000, I can't help getting excited.

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Klippel: A Product You’ve Probably Heard Without Knowing It

Klippel GmbH is not a name that most audiophiles will recognize, but it's one whose work most will have heard. Klippel, started in 1997, is the brainchild of Professor Wolfgang Klippel. The company sells two products, the R&D System and QC System, both of which are evaluation tools that have been sold to hundreds of professional customers in the audio industry over the past several years.

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Gorgeous Hardware Costing Almost $100,000, but What the Hell Is Inside?

I meandered into room 30-225 here at the Venetian, and with two names that I was unfamiliar with hanging over the door, I hardly expected to see something that would occupy me for the next 15 minutes -- an eternity here at CES.

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Preamp Evolution -- Parasound and Primare

The audio industry is constantly evolving, so it came as no surprise that within my first few hours of show coverage, I began to notice that a number of companies are currently offering analog preamps. This trend involves the integration of an analog preamp and a digital-to-analog converter (DAC). With the demand for computer-based audio products growing exponentially over the past few years, I am surprised that it took this long for a product like this to really catch on. That being said, I think this could be a turning point in the industry, as the combination of these two products not only saves space, but it also reduces the complexity and cost of an audio system.

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Analog Made Easy -- McIntosh and Rega

If one person called me a hard worker and another said I was lazy, they'd both be right. Certain things I put a lot of effort into, while other things I don't. Insofar as audio goes, turntables are the things I don't like to work hard at -- I don't really like shopping for the individual parts, and I'm not really into setting them up. I leave that stuff to guys like one of our writers, Jason Thorpe, whom I phone for 'table advice when I need it. But if I had to shop for and set up a turntable for myself, I would want the simplest solution, yet I wouldn't want compromises. Impossible?

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Virtual System 1: Rockport Technologies, Ayre Acoustics, Aurender, Hegel, Calyx, Torus Power, Nordost

Some of the best systems at CES are those not assembled -- they're virtual systems. In other words, combinations of components that I've created based on the hottest products at CES. Although the sound of these setups is purely speculation, the quality of components is not. This is one I think would be a knockout.

System 1 price: $73,045.

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Heavenly Hi-Fi from Focal, Devialet and Crystal Cable

I've been to enough shows around the world in my 17 years of audio reviewing to know this: companies from Europe typically showcase their wares better than companies from most other places. Obviously, there are exceptions, but for the most part I find that the Europeans have great "display taste," often dressing up their rooms and products so that they're exhibited in the most flattering way. Even if they're showing in a hotel room, which is the way it is with CES, they won't just throw their components on the floor or an end table and call it a day -- it must be a display. They'll also take bolder risks with product styling and colors, often going in directions that conservative North American and Japanese companies just won't touch.

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The Perfect Power Amp -- Ayre Acoustics' New VX-5

About a year ago I reviewed Ayre Acoustics' $14,950 VX-R stereo amplifier. I loved it back then, and it remains one of the very best amplifiers I've ever heard, as well as one of the most beautiful I've seen. If you own one, you're lucky. And if you'd like to own one but can't afford it (count me in that camp), Ayre's new VX-5 is likely what you're looking for. Ayre's North American sales manager, Alex Brinkmann, says the VX-5 will be "about $8000" when it's released later this quarter, yet, in my opinion, it looks and sounds like it could cost more.

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GoldenEar's Most Affordable Triton -- Introducing the Seven

Maryland-based GoldenEar Technology announced the release of the Triton Seven, a new addition to their Triton tower series, here at CES 2013. Building off of the success of their powered Triton Two and Triton Three loudspeakers, the latter of which I recently reviewed, the Triton Seven is a wholly passive affair. Priced at $1398 per pair, the 40"-tall design features the same High Velocity Folded Ribbon of the larger models in the line, along with a pair of 5.25" midrange-bass drivers. To maximize their bass response, each Seven houses an 8" passive radiator on each side of the floorstanding speaker's cabinet. Unlike the larger Triton Two and Three, which make use of a curved front baffle, the Seven has a flat front edge. But its overall design is still similar to its larger siblings, with a rearward rake that makes the Seven narrower at the front than it is at the rear.

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Best New Products Under $1000

The Consumer Electronics Show is best known for showcasing state-of-the-art technology -- the cutting-edge stuff that pushes the boundaries of what most consumers think is possible. Almost all of this advancement comes at extreme cost. Yet in the midst of a recession, many audio companies are introducing products that offer a great deal of functionality at very affordable prices.

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CES Madness: Sonus Faber and Neodio

When you have to ask whether the quoted-by-the-manufacturer price of a component is in the hundreds or thousands, you know the audiophile world has gone mad. I'm barely halfway through the first day of CES 2013 and, already, when a company rep told me the price of their loudspeakers was "17," I had to wonder whether it was $1700 or $17,000, because I couldn’t tell for sure. It turned out to be the latter.

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Product Coverage Gallery 3

Companies featured in gallery below: Wyred 4 Sound, Emerald Physics, Sutherland Engineering, Light Harmonic, Triode Corporation, Benchmark Media Systems, Ayre Acoustics, Thiel Audio, Totem Acoustic, Simaudio, PSB Speakers, Hegel, Aragon, dCS

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Product Coverage Gallery 2

Companies featured in gallery below: Crystal Cable, April Music/Stello, Octave Audio, PMC, ifi Micro, SVS, Audio Physic, Aperion Audio, Music Culture, Nagra, Zellaton, Sonus Faber, Peachtree Audio, Resonessence Labs

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Product Coverage Gallery 1

Companies featured in gallery below: Nordost, Legacy Audio, Sanders Sound Systems, Tenor Audio, Von Schweikert Audio, Your Final System, Vapor Audio, Mojo Audio, DeVore Fidelity, Zu Audio, Joseph Audio, Estelon, MSB Technology, Bob Carver, Sonic Studio

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The Last Installment: Expensive Products I Would Buy

High-end audio is fragmenting. There are companies such as KEF and Devialet -- Doug Schneider favorites, written about ad nauseum -- that are pushing the performance envelope at lower price points further than anyone could have imagined just a few years ago. At the higher prices, there are research-driven companies such as Vivid and Magico that are doing the same at the outer limits of what is possible.

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Best Display: Ayre Acoustics

Last night, I overheard a conversation between Ken Kessler and some other hi-fi journalists about why high-end audio is dying and why so much hi-fi equipment doesn't sell well to people who are rich enough to afford it. Ken, who's big into luxury goods, was adamant that most high-end manufacturers simply don't know how to sell their high-priced products to well-heeled customers. The other journalists, a couple of whom work for a popular but continuously shrinking print magazine, disagreed vehemently with him. It was at that point that the conversation turned heated and, occasionally, ugly, with some shouting and stern words between both sides. I listened and smiled as I watched these old guys fight, but I also knew one thing -- Ken was quite right and the other fuddy-duddies were wrong. That's when I joined in . . .

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"If I Had $1000000" -- the Two Speakers I'd Buy

In the Barenaked Ladies' song "If I Had $1000000," they sang about what they'd buy if they had that much cash. From what I recall, none of it had to do with high-end audio.

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SVS's Ultra Tower: A Budget-Speaker Breakthrough?

When I walked into the SV Sound (SVS) room and saw their new Ultra-series speakers, comprising a floorstander, monitor, center-channel, and surround, I admit to first thinking, "Are the attractive, sloped, shiny-black cabinets simply acting as pretty faces to conceal that there's little in terms of true design work behind them?" Plus, the prices seemed too good to be true -- the Ultra Tower will retail for about $2000/pair, the Ultra Bookshelf about $1000/pair. In high-end audio, that's cheap -- and cheap sometimes correlates with no time spent engineering anything at all.

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Japan and France in America: The Consolidation of the High End

Esoteric is now the US distributor for the French loudspeaker brand Cabasse. Tim Crable, Esoteric's director of sales, said, "The synergy is magical between their point-source loudspeakers and our electronics." Esoteric is no longer in the loudspeaker-manufacturing business, so the pairing is natural because now Esoteric can display and, ultimately, distribute a complete high-end-audio system.

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A Tale of Two, Make That Three Shows

Show One -- value abounds: The Resonessence Labs Concero DAC is priced at $599. It uses an ESS Sabre DAC chip and has an asynchronous USB input. It comes in . . .

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A Tale of Two Shows?

Walking through the displays at Rocky Mountain Audio Fest 2012, I'm struck by the number of manufacturers that are squeezing what seems to be an amazing amount of performance out of products that are priced in reach of the common consumer. Talking to designers, company presidents, sales managers, and others, I heard story after story describing product-development projects that were conceived to offer more value, more performance, and more connectivity for audiophiles looking to maximize their dollars.

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Product Coverage Gallery 2

Companies featured in gallery below: Focus Audio, Grandinote, Capriccio Continuo, Reference 3A, Kudos, Ceol Audio, Opera, System Audio, Paradigm Shift, exaSound, AIX Records, GutWire, Synthesis, Calyx Audio, Usher Audio

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Product Coverage Gallery 1

Companies featured in gallery below: Paradigm, Bryston, Elipson, Bel Canto Design, Cary Audio Design, Blue Circle Audio, ELAC, Naim Audio, Air Tight, PrimaLuna, Bose

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Opera Audio’s Linea Classica -- Beautiful Speakers for a Beautiful Price

When I entered the Opera Audio room here at TAVES, nothing really jumped out at me. While readers may imagine that covering an audio show is a vibrant, almost electric experience for audio writers, that's pretty far from the truth. Going from room to room methodically copying down equipment information, I think it's fair to say that actual sound quality becomes something of an afterthought unless it's glaringly apparent that the sound is shockingly good. Or bad, for that matter.

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The Model T: Balls-to-the-Wall Bryston

Canada's Bryston Limited is a company legendary for power amplifiers, preamplifiers, and more recently, digital-source-type products such as the BDP-2 digital player and BDA-2 digital-to-analog converter. Now the company is jumping headlong into the loudspeaker market with the introduction of their first product. Named the Model T, its starting price is $6495/pair for the passive version with an internal crossover and a standard finish. Premium finishes increase the cost, as does the option for an external passive crossover or an external DSP-based crossover, the latter option creating a fully active solution. A stand-mounted version as well as a center-channel and subwoofer (both passive and active) are also in the works. Obviously, Bryston is optimistic and thinking ahead.

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Cabasse’s Avant-garde CinéOle

The French get a bit of a bad rap. There was Napoleon Bonaparte, the Corsican who developed the eponymous complex. There was the Great War, where France endured almost 1.4 million military deaths. And finally there was the Second World War, where the French were overrun by a failed artist with a God complex and a bad mustache. Militarily then, things have not always gone well for the western European nation. Yet they are renowned for their cheese, their fashion, their new wave -- indeed, for almost the entirety of their cultural tapestry. Taste in the finer things seems to be part and parcel of being French.

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The Limited-Edition Tribute: Near-Perfect Paradigm

I'll cut to the chase and tell you now that Paradigm's new Tribute loudspeaker is the company's best looking and, from what we could tell at TAVES 2012, best sounding loudspeaker to date. In the case of the former, that might not be saying much -- a little over ten years ago most Paradigm loudspeakers were pedestrian-looking rectangular boxes. Beauty wasn't their thing. It's only recently that they've really upped their styling, and the Tribute is a great example, particularly the Dark Garnet Gloss finish, which is gorgeous. But in terms of sound, that's saying a lot. For decades, Paradigm has consistently produced speakers that perform far in excess of their price.

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A $6500 Television. From Bose.

"The discoveries made by our engineers were so profound that when the end result was first demonstrated within Bose, the reaction was nothing short of astonishment." So reads the literature that accompanies Bose's new VideoWave II "entertainment system." Also known as a television, the second-generation VideoWave screen is a two-product line comprising a 55" model priced at $6495 and a 46" model at $5495. With a 1080p, 120Hz LED display sourced from Samsung and an array of 16 individual speaker drivers enclosed along all four sides of the 6"-deep, wall-mountable device, it struck me as an interesting, if grossly overpriced, product.

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SnapShots! Gallery 2

Captionless semi-random photos taken during the show

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SnapShots! Gallery 1

Captionless semi-random photos taken during the show

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May 6 Product Coverage Gallery

Companies featured in gallery below: Vitus Audio, Hegel, Essential Sound Products, Zellaton, Fono Acoustica, Brinkmann, Dynaudio, Burmester, Tidal Audio, Canton, Auralic, Audio Physic, Isophon

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May 5 Product Coverage Gallery

Companies featured in gallery below: Rockport Technologies, AudioQuest, Manufaktur, Harmonic Audio Labs, Harbeth, Norma Design, Sennheiser, Beyerdynamic, Mola Mola, Soundelux, Esoteric, Pro-Ject, Antelope Audio

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May 4 Product Coverage Gallery

Companies featured in gallery below: Siltech, Crystal Cable, Ascendo, Margules Audio, Absolare, Inspire Hi-Fi, Tannoy, Sonus faber, KEF, Constellation Audio, Pathos, Amphion, NuForce, Orpheus, Soulution

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May 3 Product Coverage Gallery

Companies featured in gallery below: Wadax, WideaLab, AudioNec, Raidho Acoustics, Hanss Acoustics, Audioaero, Forster Audiotecnik, Kharma, Kaiser Acoustics

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The Growing Disconnect Between High Fidelity and the High End

The world is indeed a smaller place these days. Social media has connected people from all walks of life and makes for the instant transfer of information around the world. Technology is, in fact, the vehicle for the convergence of cultures and the examination of disparate ideas by diverse groups of people even worlds apart. Our connectedness and its effect on our lives are unprecedented in human history.

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High-End In-Ear Hi-Fi: Sennheiser's IE 800 Earphones

Sennheiser's new IE 800 earphones so intrigued me when I shot them for our product coverage that I went back to my hotel, grabbed my B&W C5 earphones, and then went back to compare the two through listening. The IE 800s are priced at 600€, the C5s at 179€. I use the C5s all the time. Could the 800s be that much better and worth that much more?

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The Mystery of Qualia & Co.

Qualia & Co.'s marketing department is based in Los Angeles, their materials research is conducted in France, and their products are designed and manufactured in Japan. The products' prices and build quality are extreme by anyone's standards. So just who is behind Qualia & Co.?

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KEF's Killer Compact Monitor: The LS50

KEF's new LS50 speaker is said to be a modern-day homage to the classic BBC-designed LS3/5A monitor that was created in the '70s and used KEF-made drivers. It was, at least to some, the ultimate nearfield monitoring tool. To others, like me, it was an interesting little speaker, but with some problems. Perhaps more important, I'm a "minimonitor" guy, but I never wanted a pair of those. I'm not sure why; it's just that nothing about it excited me. But I can't say the same thing about the LS50. Read on . . .

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Tidal’s Watershed Moment: The Agoria Loudspeaker

There are watershed moments that can mark a shift in a company's direction. Certainly, when Tidal Audio of Germany introduced their Sunray loudspeaker back in 2003, that product informed Tidal's offerings for almost a decade. But time and technology march on, and yesterday's flagship is, well, yesterday's news. The brand-new Tidal Agoria might just signal the next watershed moment in Tidal's relatively short history of competing in the Age of the Superspeaker.

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King of the Gryphons: The Pendragon Loudspeaker

It was 2004 when I first heard the Gryphon Poseidon four-tower loudspeaker system (then $130,000 USD per pair). I was the first reviewer in the world to hear that speaker, as I traveled to Gryphon's home in Denmark for just that purpose after that year's Munich-based High End show in Germany (at that time, High End was held in Frankfurt). That listening session was an experience not to be missed -- the sound I heard that day left quite an impression. I remember coming away from that visit thinking that Gryphon had accomplished a remarkable feat: a company known mostly for its exceptional electronics had successfully transitioned into the realm of the superspeaker. That does not happen very often.

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More Magico, Less Money: The S5 Loudspeaker

High End 2012 began on Thursday, May 3, but on Wednesday Doug Schneider and I attended the German premier of Magico's S5 loudspeaker, held at Life Like HiFi Studios, a retailer that seemingly carries every audio product under the sun. (The Magico event was sponsored by German distributor Audio Components.) We attended the event because Magico was promoting the S5 as having the highest price/performance ratio of any speaker they've ever offered. We were obviously anxious to hear just what the buzz was about and to decide for ourselves if it was indeed true. The S5 retails for $28,600 per pair in the United States.

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The Sound

This is what it's all about. Dialed in. Warmed up. Ultra tweaked. Here's what I heard.

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The System Shots

The TWBAS 2012 system is made up of products from seven manufacturers from five countries: Vitus Audio (Denmark), WideaLab (Korea), Magico (USA), AudioQuest (USA), Silent Running Audio (USA), Esoteric (Japan), and Torus Power (Canada). The retail price of the system approaches $500,000 USD. Profiles on all the products can be found through this link.

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Company (Wo)Men

SoundStage! Network publisher Doug Schneider photographed each of the TWBAS 2012 participants with their products. Featured in this gallery: Hans-Ole Vitus (Vitus Audio), Charles Kim (WideaLab), Tim Crable (Esoteric), Alon Wolf (Magico), Howard Gladstone (Torus Power), and Jett Logan (AudioQuest). (Unfortunately, Kevin Tellekamp of Silent Running Audio, whose racks were used to support the electronics in this system, could not attend on this day.)

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The Portraits

Photographer Chris Lang created portraits of the company participants, as well as the entire TWBAS 2012 team. (Unfortunately, Kevin Tellekamp of Silent Running Audio, whose racks were used to support the electronics in this system, could not attend on this day.)

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The Gathering

On March 30, the SoundStage! Network hosted a gathering at the Port Land Grille restaurant in Wilmington, North Carolina. TWBAS 2012 corporate participants were all present, as were a large number of writers from the SoundStage! Network staff. Photographer Chris Lang was on hand to capture the excitement.

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Measurements and a Listening Panel

Setting up the Magico Q7 loudspeakers for TWBAS 2012 meant more than just placing them in the room, listening to a few tracks, making an adjustment or two, and then calling it a day. In the case of TWBAS 2012, a listening panel consisting of Vitus Audio's Hans-Ole Vitus, Magico's Alon Wolf, and me, along with three microphones and two software-based measurement programs, were called into service to get the Q7s dialed in to perfection.

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TWBAS 2012 Setup and Kickoff (Video)

TWBAS 2012 setup and kickoff! Produced, shot and edited by Chris Lang Photography. Enjoy!

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TWBAS 2012 Introduction from Las Vegas (Video)

SoundStage! Network editor-in-chief Jeff Fritz introduces the companies and components that make up TWBAS 2012, a cost-no-object system that will be showcased in his Music Vault listening room from March 30-31.

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Product Coverage Gallery 2

Companies featured in gallery below: Axiom Audio, Magico, T+A, Totem Acoustic, Lyra, BitPerfect Sound, Pro-Ject, Zellaton, JRiver, Bryston, Genesis Advanced Technologies, Trigon

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SoundStage! Network-Sponsored Digital-Experts Pane

On March 25, the SoundStage! Network sponsored a one-hour seminar and question-and-answer session featuring six digital-audio experts: James Tanner (Bryston), Jacques Riendeau (Oracle Audio), Dominique Poupart (Simaudio Moon), Jim Hillegas (JRiver), Steve Silberman (AudioQuest), and Joe Harley (AudioQuest). This gallery features images taken throughout the duration of this eye-opening, informative event.

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SoundStage! Network-Sponsored Speaker-Designers Panel

On March 24, the SoundStage! Network sponsored a one-hour seminar and question-and-answer session featuring six top speaker designers: Vince Bruzzese (Totem Acoustic), Paul Barton (PSB Speakers), Andrew Welker (Axiom Audio), Manfred Diestertich (Audio Physic), Jeff Joseph (Joseph Audio), and John DeVore (DeVore Fidelity). This gallery features images taken during this extremely informative and entertaining event.

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Canada Pavilion: Part 2

Canada has a sterling reputation for being home to some of the world's most respected audio companies. To celebrate these companies' successes at home and abroad, the Salon Son & Image organizers created the Canada Pavilion (Pavillon du Canada) to showcase the companies and their products.

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Canada Pavilion: Part 1

Canada has a sterling reputation for being home to some of the world's most respected audio companies. To celebrate these companies' successes at home and abroad, the Salon Son & Image organizers created the Canada Pavilion (Pavillon du Canada) to showcase the companies and their products.

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Product Coverage Gallery 1

Companies featured in gallery below: Atoll Electronique, Audio Note, Bryston, GutWire, KingRex, Mass Fidelity, Monitor Audio, Ardán, Naim, Quad, Rega

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Salon Son & Image Cocktail Party: Part 2

Thursday, March 22, the first day of the Salon Son & Image, is reserved for members of the audio-video industry. At day's end, before the start of the three-day public opening, the SSI organizers hosted a cocktail party and awards ceremony to honor the exhibitors and their accomplishments.

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Salon Son & Image Cocktail Party: Part 1

Thursday, March 22, the first day of the Salon Son & Image, is reserved for members of the audio-video industry. At day's end, before the start of the three-day public opening, the SSI organizers hosted a cocktail party and awards ceremony to honor the exhibitors and their accomplishments.

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MBL 126 Loudspeaker: The Inimitable Radialstrahler

There's no ignoring the obvious: a fine line divides the unique from the obtrusive, and the styling department of Germany's MBL has no qualms skirting it. The company's room was littered with gear from their Reference line of equipment, and its all-white finish was hard to miss, as were the logos adorning the monoblock 9011 amps, which were large enough for the legally blind to see.

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Gradient SW-S -- And Now for Something Completely Different

Confident claims in audiophile literature are commonplace. More rarely seen, however, is confidence that's entirely devoid of embellishment, from someone looking you unerringly in the eye. Tim Ryan of SimpliFi Audio displayed this borderline-unsettling conviction as he explained the theory behind the Gradient SW-S ($6990 USD per pair), a triangular, non-ported dipole bass module with two 12" drivers, maneuvered by the included external crossover.

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Zellaton: From Munich to Montreal, By Way of Manhattan

Raise your hand if you've heard of Zellaton speakers. I don't see many hands out there. That's OK -- I hadn't heard of them either, but I should have. The genesis of Zellaton speakers lies way back in 1930, when Emil Podzus patented a speaker cone made from foam solidified on a substrate and coated with a very thin film layer. Podzus also pioneered the use of differing speaker diameters for reproducing specific frequency ranges.

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A DeVore Diversion

The breakneck pace of show coverage is anathema to the goals of high-end audio. We assemble a stereo system to -- presumably -- create an environment where we can relax and enjoy a musical performance in the comfort of our own homes.

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exaSound: Eight for the Price of Two . . . and Bring Some Headphones

I think I'm in the majority when I say that if I don't like the way an audio product works, I'm far more likely to bitch about it than to go and try to build something better.

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Dynaudio Xeo -- Liberated Fidelity

No one actually wants big amplifiers and preamplifiers on tall equipment racks. Nor, perhaps especially, conspicuous cables. They're just necessary. But do they have to be?

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Inebriated, Bipolar and Axiom-atic DSP Love

Ideas born in a bar rarely bear fruit that doesn't involve butchered pick-up lines, petty violence, or obnoxious yelling (that's probably redundant). Yet speaker designer Andrew Welker . . .

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Ayre QA-9: Spin'n'Rip

You can't play your LPs in your car, nor on your iPod. LPs are perhaps the least portable media format that's ever existed. At least you've got a fighting chance of playing back reel-to-reel tapes in the car . . .

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Computer Audio: Let's Get It Together

The state of the union in computer audio is a complete farce. As it stands right now, you've got the choice of using a computer with a digital output to stream music to a DAC, some sort of DLNA server shooting bits out to a UPnP client, or some variant of the two. With the exception of Sonos, which is elegant but quaint and antiquated, that's about it.

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What a Strange Way to Do Business

By far, the oddest room that I encountered on my first day at the show was that hosted by Lys Audio, a new company from Montreal, Canada.

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January 13 Product Coverage Gallery

Companies featured in gallery below: Vitus Audio, Rockport Technologies, TEAC, Vandersteen, Pass Labs, DALI, Mark Levinson, Revel, Cary Audio Designs, Soulution, T+A, Bel Canto Design, DH Labs, AudioQuest, Copland, Kronos

All prices in US dollars unless otherwise indicated

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January 12 Product Coverage Gallery 2

Companies featured in gallery below: Crystal Cable, Devialet, JL Audio, Definitive Technology, Audioengine, NuForce, Samsung, Zanden Audio Systems, Light Harmonic, Rogue Audio, Volent, Peak Consult, Vivid Audio

All prices in US dollars unless otherwise indicated

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January 12 Product Coverage Gallery 1

Companies featured in gallery below: Simaudio Moon, Dynaudio, Monitor Audio, Anthony Gallo Acoustics, Focus Audio, Amphion, PSB, Electrocompaniet, Lansche, Silverline Audio, Audio-Technica, Beyerdynamic, Sennheiser, HiFiMan

All prices in US dollars unless otherwise indicated

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January 11 Product Coverage Gallery

Companies featured in gallery below: Torus Power, Bryston, Klipsch, Meridian, Krell, Eventus Audio, Audia Flight, Marten Design, Oracle Audio Technologies, Vienna Acoustics, Furutech, CH Precision, Argento Audio, Egglestonworks

All prices in US dollars unless otherwise indicated

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Newest Videos

SoundStage! Shorts - McIntosh Laboratory MA252 Integrated Amplifier (November 2017)
SoundStage! InSight - Hegel H90 and H190 Integrated Amplifiers (October 2017)