STEREOMOJO SPECIAL REPORT

CES &

T.H.E SHOW 2009

Part 4

Big  news for fans of the high-end and rather pricey Abbington Music Research line of electronics. AMR has come out with a whole new line of products at much lower prices and much higher bang-for-the-bucks you see in the rack. Oh...you may have noticed the nice lady in the shot, too. She's not a super model hired to draw attention to the products - that's Bonnie Censullo, wife of  Avatar Acoustics' Darren Censullo who distributes AMR as well as other fine products such as the Rythm Saadhanna speakers you see here. Darren just retired form the National Guard where he flew fighter jets in service to our country. Thanks, Darren. We love you guys.

The new line is dubbed the 777 series and at launch consists of  the AM-777 Amplifier (above) and CD-777 CD Processor pictured below. Prices will be around $3,500 each when available in the first quarter of '09. The matching LS-777 Speakers and other products will follow over the course of  the year.

As you can see, the new "baby" AMR's retain the heavy, solid chassis' of their big brother. Darren said he'd send us the amp & CD player when he gets his first shipment.

Looking rather Darth Vaderish, Prima Luna has gone a little further "upscale" (marketed by Kevin Deal and Upscale Audio) with the new "Mystère" line.

We'll let you read the press release yourself:

We almost didn't make it to the Produndo room - we entered 5 minutes before closing. But Bob Clarke and his crew stuck around for an extra half hour (even though we were all exhausted) to let us hear and experience what turned out to be one of the best sounds we heard. The quality of the Viva amp and the Trenner & Friedl "Dizzy" loudspeakers was mesmerizing and immersive, particularly for a rather small and not elaborate system - very unusual in a universe of mega (and megabuck) systems that is CES.

The system we heard was Heed Audio's DACtilus 2-box Dac at $995 driven by a CEC belt transport, the Viva Solista 2 tube integrated at $16,900 and those wonderful "Dizzy" speakers (named after Dizzy Gillespie) at only $6,500. Bob said he'd be happy to send us the "Dizzy'" for review. We're anxious to get our hands and ears on them.

These are the "Kadinsky" models from Lominchay of China. They are priced at around $60,000 per pair.

These were easily the worst sound in Vegas - that we heard, at least. There had to be something wrong - these simply could not sound that bad.

There was no high end. Not slightly rolled off or "soft", it just wasn't there. We might as well had our hands over our ears. We heard other Lominchay speakers at RMAF with much better sound. Something had to be wrong, but others we talked to heard exactly the same thing at different times.

These are beautiful handmade speakers. A little oddly shaped, but the craftsmanship is astounding. The bass module is fabricated of t30mm/1.2-inch Birch laminate, featuring a 12-inch woofer mounted on a 1-inch concrete plinth covered with leather. Inside the cabinet you’ll find substantial bracing and premium lamb’s wool. A10-inch midbass driver augments the 12-inch woofer for an even greater sense of the original recording environment. The Kandinsky reaches down to a 30Hz with 90dB/2m efficiency at 8 ohms and 100 watt of power handling. It features a biwired silver internal wiring harness, heavy-duty binding posts, and an adjustable bass control, weighing about 200lbs.


You notice the fine Aerial speakers and maybe even the big Boulder electronics. But what this sytem was really about is sitting on the shelf behind all that.

This is the Peachtree Nova. We have reviewed the original Decco and were pretty impressed - especially for a first product from a new company. This is not a Bose-like product, it has legit high-end intentions. But as head man David Sol oman said, "We learned a lot from the Decco. The new Nova incorporates all we learned and more".

First, what is it? It's a hybrid integrated tube/solid state amp with 3 analog inputs, 4 digital inputs and 1 USB input . The amp puts out 75WPC and it even includes a headphone amp and a preamp output, so a subwoofer or more powerful amplifier can be added at any time. Nova's preamp section uses a 6922 tube with a Class A output stage, which maintains a high level of detail and also provides a sonically richer platform to tame the harshness that plagues most compressed digital music.

Sound good so far? The real performance piece here however is the DAC; an ESS 9006 Sabre DAC, a high-resolution 24bit/192k up-sampling converter that reclocks the incoming digital signal removing harmful jitter before passing the signal to the 24/192 upsampler with it's 122dB S/N ratio!  We all know power supplies are important. even great circuits driven by a weak or cheap power supply will be compromised. The Nova sports - ELEVEN - regulated power supplies for the DAC and digital section transformer-couple each digital input stages.No switching.

The USB section is a bit different than most implementations found on the market; the Nova's USB connection is isolated from the computer's power supply and therefore the noise generated by that system. This provides a cleaner, quieter signal to the DACs offering greater resolution and more music! The Nova's powerful 75WPC amplifier is backed up by a huge toroidal power supply. "The DAC in the Nova is one of the best in the world. We encourage reviewers to compare it to any other DAC, even those costing thousands more", said Sol oman

For those Headfiles out there, the Nova has a “Class-A” tube headphone amp inside, not the usual op amps we usually see.  The Nova is available now for $1,200. David is sending us one for review.

Jaton is rather new to the high-end, but they are making bold moves. We have reviewed a couple of Jaton products and were impressed, particularly with the Operetta power amp you see on the bottom. They tell us they are already upgrading the Operetta though. It will be 150 wpc with fully balanced circuitry via XLR's in class A. Price will be about $5,000.

The RC2000P preamp you see is a prototype. It's going to include a very high quality phono section as well as XLR's that are gain adjustable. When I asked how much it will cost, George Cheng (pictured left) said, "We try to bring it in under $1,000." Yikes!

The speakers are their new A&V 803's. The highly lacquered cabinets are gorgeous and come in three exotic finishes. It's a 3-way design with dual 8" woofers that go down to 35Hz, a midrange and a sweet ribbon top end. They are said to be 91db efficient as well. Price is about $6,000.pair. Jaton is working hard and fast to produce very high value, high quality gear. We're going to keep a close eye on them.

Roy Hall of Music Hall is one of our favorite people in the audio industry for several reasons. He's not afraid to say what he thinks  about the industry and the audio press and more than that, he's usually if not always right.  His honesty and no-nonsense approach is refreshing and even inspiring. He's also extremely funny and loves to make us laugh. He's also pretty dang smart and we always learn something when we talk with him. At Stereomojo, we place a high emphasis on value and Roy designs, makes and distributes some of the highest value to performance ratio products on the planet. We wish there were more people like Roy around, as well as his VP LeLand Leard.

 

Roy introduced his new DAC and integrated amp at the show - two examples of the value we mentioned. The DAC is a balanced tube model that gives you the choice of tube or solid state output. Usually, the balanced outs on such models only output the solid state circuits, but this one does balanced out via the tube section as well. It does up sample to as high as 24/192, but it has a feature that we've been wanting forever - it allows you to override the upsampler and play back at regular redbook 16/44.1 so you can actually hear the original vs. upsampled. It sport FOUR digital inputs - coax (spdif), optical, XLR and USB. It also has a headphone out on the front. The price? A ridiculously low $595! This appears to be one of the best bargains at the show and we want one. Leland said he would send us the DAC and integrated for review right away. We can't wait.

The new a50.2 integrated has 90 wpc with a massive Toroidal power supply and 4 inputs and tape loop as well as the now ubiquitous Ipod mini jack input on the front.

It also has not only a MM phone section, but MC as well. The fluorescent display is dimmable and it comes with a quality remote as well. All for $1,199.

 

Speaking of ridiculously low, there is also a new phono pre that does MM and MC for all of $150. All in all, one of the best slate of new, value oriented products in Vegas.Roy Hall strikes again!

 

This is Roger Sanders (left) with our publisher, James Darby. Roger has spent most of his life researching and building electrostatic speakers, the latest incarnation the 10B's you see in the background. James is putting the finishing touches on our world's first review of the Sanders 'stats and the electronic remotely adjustable crossover and amplifiers that Roger also makes that are designed to deal with driving the rigorous loads that such speakers demand. Apparently Sanders has done a pretty good job because he and his speakers have been given Stereomojo's rare "Product of the Year Award" for 2008. Congrats to Roger Sanders and his 10B's!

 

There's more?

Yes! Go to Part 5

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