Just got home from CES. Here are my impressions, for what its worth. Note, that I wasn't there to drool over audio gear, so I only spent a few hours in the high end audio stuff.
You hear about the struggles of the the hi-fi market ... but man that's hard to believe when you walk through the halls of the Venetian at CES. Room after room after room of stuff that I could never afford. Who buys all this? Seriously? I have a really really good job and love this hobby but I could only afford maybe a 10th of the gear on display. And that's being really generous.
Kudos to Revel and Dynaudio for being one of the few high end companies that were showcasing their lower end stuff.
After a while, I was just looking for something interesting and different. And passing by most rooms as a result.
It pains me to say this, but the best sound I heard was from the Perfect8 room and their "The Point MkII" speaker. Its painful, not just because the speakers are insanely priced (~150K) but also because the owner was a gigantic ass. I should note that I had never knew of Perfect8 before and had no idea how much they cost when I made that judgment (about the speakers, not the owner). I just learned their price about 30 minutes ago when I looked them up. Anyways, these speakers pulled off 3D spatial cues unlike anything I've ever heard before. Stunning really. I'm going to have to pay closer attention to open baffle speaker designs if this is the result.
Usher had the next best sound, but I can't recall the speaker model name. It was huge though ... easily 5 feet tall. I really liked the Usher room. The folks were laid back and they were giving away a free CD with music samples for comparison. Nice touch.
After that ... the Revel Performa M106. Yes they sounded that good. Now I should note that, I'm rating them higher than the Salon2s that were in the Jeff Roland room. That is completely ludicrous right? Well, its what I heard. I suspect it was a speaker positioning issue, cause the Salon2s were having trouble with mid fill. Speaking of which, 90% of the speakers were poorly placed ... close to a back wall and with some huge AV rack stuck in the middle. Interestingly, the Perfect8s and the Ushers I mentioned above did NOT do this. The Perfect8s, in particular, were pulled halfway into the listening area and had nothing ... not even amps ... in between.
Anthem is selling a single rack space Class D 1000watt mono amp for $3500. This is NOT based on the ICE module but its own proprietary design and is packed with cool tech. I love the concept but think the price should be about $2000 each instead of $3500.
Truly innovative designs were rare. But one that intrigued me was a dome coaxial speaker design from Dome Phase (www.domephase.com
). Think of a typically coaxial middriver/tweeter layout, except that the middriver is mounted backwards. The claim is that this, plus some additional foamlike material around the tweeter, reduces tweeter distortion caused by the middriver sound waves. The sound was good and the design won a CES innovation award.