STEREOMOJO SPECIAL DUAL REPORT
One of the more exciting world premiers in Vegas was this new Audio Research DS450 amp. What's so exciting about a new amp from ARC? This one is a Class D. We spoke to head Design Engineer Dennis Petrich who is very produ of the work he did on the amp.
"We stared from scratch on this one, threw out everything everything everybody else had already done in Class D and forged our own way. Everything in this amp is ours". Darby mentioned that Stereomojo had done the very first shootout of 11 Class D and Tripath amplifiers nearly four years ago, so we were very interested in the technology. "Oh I know", Dennis replied, "You did a very good job with that. I read it thoroughly". For about 10 minutes Dennis proceeded to describe in great detail the technical differences in the new amp versus the path everyone else took. From what he said, it is indeed a remarkable piece of engineering.
We listened to the DS450 with ARC's Ref 5 preamp with the Ref 2 phono stage along with a Well-Tempered turntable, Dynavector cartridge and Sonus Faber Elipsa speakers. Again, while it's trecherous to make any sonic judgements about audio in a show envirnment, there was no trace of the signature coolness in the mids and the dry top end of most Class D (often called "digital" though they are not) amps.
Petrich mentioned that the DS450 puts out 410 watts per channel at 8 ohms. Knowing that most Class D amps are notoriously unstable below 4 Ohms, Darby asked him about the amp's performance with difficult loads. "Oh, it's very stable at 2 Ohms and below", he stated.
"So it will drive electrostats", Darby asked?
"Absolutely. We've driven Quads and also Magnepans and several other difficult loads in testing. This is a great amp for those types of speakers. It will drive anything".
The Well Tempered Amadeus table. Yes, the white thing is a golf ball.
Darby showed head guy Terry Dorn our Class D amp shootout on his Iphone.
ARC also showed a $5995 DSI200 integrated amplifier Class D rated at 200Wpc into 8 ohms.
Dennis was enthusiastic about Stereomojo doing a review of his masterpiece as we are, but the last word is up to Mr. Dorn.
We're keeping our fingers crossed.
Audio Analog looks a little like Acoustic Research, don't you think? They have 15 products that are new for 2010, ranging in prices from $995 to $10,900. They offer four different lines starting with the Armonia with prices under $1,000, the Primos with prices from $1,000 - $2,000, the Composer's Line roughly in the $2 - 3 thousand range and finally the Maestro series that ranges from about $4,000 for the CD player you see above to $10,900 for pure class A 200 watt monoblocks. We have asked for review samples for this interesting brand.
We did the world's first review of the new Sindre air bearing and air arm table from Bergmann that turned out to be our turntable Product of the Year for 2009. Johnnie Bergmann showed his top-of-the-line
table that is basically the Sindre on human grwoth hormone - bigger and heavier for around $50,000. We did not ask to review it - too expensive for our blood - but he is planning a third table that will be cheaper than the Sindre for us mere mortals. That should be good.
Another new table at the show was this interesting "Concept" model from Clearaudio at $1,500 complete with a frictionless magnetic bearing and Aurum Classic Mk II Wood cartidge, all complete set up and aligned at the factory.
It seems however, that the magnetic bearing may be causing more than a little "friction" in audioland because Frank Schroeder believes (and you heard it here first) that the magnetic bearing imposes on his patent for such arms so he's taking it to court in Germany. Clearaudio is not the only company believed to be infringing though, so we'll see how this sorts out.
You can see the gaps of nothingness as the bearing floats in magnetic heaven.
A new table that plays 78's?
The pictures say it all about the new Innovation Wood table.
Dynaudio makes some great speakers, but even with the "it's hard to tell how good or bad something is at a show" disclaimer, these "Consequence" models sounded rather disappointing for a $70,000 speaker even though it does include those big Octave amps. Mick Tillman said the frequency range is from a low 17 hz to 35 kHz.. There are a lot of factors that dimshed the sound, but those big woofers on top sounded like "bass in your face" to us.
Linda especially liked the much smaller Contour S 1.4 much better at a still rather high $3,500/pair plus stands. Much more natural sounding and convincing.
Parasound unveiled a new John Curl design phono preamp that, when available, will sell for about $2,000.
For many audiophiles, this little speaker was the biggest news in Nevada; the new 1.7 model from Magnepan.
New Maggies are few and far between, demonstrating that the company believes that they should only bring a new speaker to market when they really have something special rather than just for marketing purposes. Driven by big Brystons, not the most neutral sounding amp in the world, they sounding absolutely wonderful. The literature states, "The MG1.7 is a full-range quasi-ribbon loudspeaker that should continue the tradition of awards for Best Value. (We agree) The MG 1.7 is a departure from Magnepan's forty-year history of using planar-magnetic for the bass or lower midrange. (The 1.7 is a three-way design, with a woofer, tweeter, and super-tweeter as apposed to the former 1.6 being a 2-way). The use of quasi-ribbon technology down into the lower midrange and bass will provide a new level of coherence. The MG 1.7 also boasts a quasi-ribbon supertweeter with a wider "sweet spot [taking it] one step closer to the delicacy and detail of Magnepan's true ribbon tweeter.
A new wrap-around aluminum trim also gives the speaker a more contemporary look. One drawback of other panel speakers is the very narrow sweet spot, but these sounded like they have a wider sweet spot with increased dispersion. There was no info on how "full range" they are or their sensitivity, but they sure did sound sweet as these confections sold in the Venetian hotel.
Speaking of Maggies, PS Audio used the big 3.6's to demo their still work in progress power amp (below), driven by the very hot PS Audio Perfect Wave Transport & DAC ($3,000 each) for which Stereomojo
published the world's first review minutes after the final software version was released - we were beta testers of the units.
Paul McGowan showed us the new PS Audio NAS.
What is a NAS, you ask? It's a hard drive that connects to a computer network. "There aren’t many dedicated to music only, which is why PS Audio engineers are working hard on providing a PS music NAS that is a complete integrated system including copying of your CD’s, organizing your files and all at the touch of a button. We’ll call it the PerfectWave Library", says Paul. "The PS Audio NAS will be a state-of-the-art affair providing the best CD copying method, mirrored hard drives for safety (so you don’t lose any data), plug and play ease, no fans etc., etc. This is going to be perfect for many of our customers but all this sophistication and ease of use has to come at a price. For those of you itching to get moving right now and don’t mind fooling around with computer stuff, here’s a really low cost solution a do-it-yourself version for only $135.
They also showed an Iphone app that will control the whole PS Audio shebang.
What?! There's more?
Take me to Part 6!
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