Playroom Blog


CES 2017 - Day Four

Metronome’s hugely revised Kalista reference player is now complete, with the launch of the new Kalista Dream player. Based as before on the excellent Philips CDM12 Pro CD transport, the top-loading player can be supplied in stainless steel, chrome, gold, or whatever you finish you require, with two thicknesses of contrasting methacrylate. The transport mechanism includes a separate power supply and can either be supplied with its own isolation platform or works stacked with the Kalista Dream DAC’s full isolation system in its own right. Both transport and DAC now feature matching touch-screen displays.


The DAC itself is designed to run the most optimised digital and analogue pathways for your music. It is actually two DACs in one; the first for PCM signals, the second for DSD. It also has the options of a solid-state or valve output, all options controlled from that dimmable front panel.


The company also showed its Music Player digital hub in its Metronome line, in a fine sounding room using a Constellation Audio integrated amplifier and Magico S1 Mk 2 floorstanding loudspeakers.


Finally, we can’t say goodbye to Las Vegas without a quick look at the Continuum Audio Labs Obsidian turntable and Viper arm. Much has already been said about this outstanding relaunch of the turntable brand, but it still makes a truly wonderful sound, also through Constellation Audio and Magico equipment.


CES 2017 - Day Three

Specialty Audio at CES is still capable of surprising us, with more people visiting the event than expected. And there were still more Wilson Audio playing at the show, this time the new Yvette integrated floorstanders were sounding exceptionally good in the VTL room. In fact, Wilson loudspeakers were seemingly unable to make a bad sound.


Theta was demonstrating a multichannel surround system in the ATI room, with the latest versions of the Compli Blu 3D player and Casablanca IV controller. Also on display, but not playing, was Theta’s Class D Dreadnaught multichannel power amplifier.


MartinLogan has been rolling out its Masterpiece Series of hybrid electrostatic loudspeakers throughout 2016, and the range is now complete. The company was showing the Impression ESL 11A loudspeakers, but the room itself was slightly too small to showcase the Illusion ESL C34A centre channel. We expect to see that at AXPONA or at Munich.


CES 2017 - Day Two Part Two

Audio Research is pleased to introduce the VT80 vacuum-tube power amplifier to its Foundation Series. From the same design and engineering team responsible for the award-winning Reference Series, the Foundation family of vacuum tube components has been created to provide an incredible musical experience.


The new VT80 allows the Foundation Series to be shown as a complete system. Combining an enticing new esthetic with worry-free operation and great performance, the VT80 is a vacuum-tube amplifier that will make Audio Research accessible to a larger group of music lovers.


MartinLogan, the world’s leader in electrostatic and Folded Motion loudspeaker technology, proudly announces two new center channel loudspeaker models in its new Masterpiece Series—Illusion ESL C34A and Focus ESL C18. Complementing the impressive new Renaissance ESL 15A, Expression ESL 13A, Impression ESL 11A, and Classic ESL 9 loudspeakers, the design of each center channel loudspeaker is driven by its application.


Illusion C34A, designed for ultimate performance floor standing applications, features a 34-inch wide dipolar curvilinear XStat electrostatic transducer, rigid aluminum AirFrame™, dual Folded Motion XT tweeters, WBT binding posts, and powered woofers that play up to 500Hz. The powered section consists of four aluminum cone woofers driven by PoweredForce™ bass technology, featuring a Class-D amplifier controlled by a 24-Bit Vojtko™ DSP Engine. Unprecedented levels of room integration are achieved through an exclusive ARC™ (Anthem Room Correction) system along with low- and mid-bass level controls.


UK digital experts dCS were showcasing the new Network Bridge; a device that brings high-grade digital streaming from online or local networks to existing DAC hardware. Being TIDAL-chummy, Spotify-friendly, and Roon Ready, the Network Bridge works to DSD128 or PCM at 24bit, 384kHz sampling, and includes a special integer down-sampling system for owners of legacy dCS DACs. For those with older dCS equipment, this is a gateway into streaming without having to upgrade at this time, while for those without dCS equipment, Network Bridge is a gateway to dCS. The Network Bridge played into a full dCS Vivaldi 2.0 stack, with a high-performance HRS platform system into the awesome Wilson Audio ALEXX floorstanders.


CES 2017 - Day Two Part One

Transparent Audio is calling this the year of power. The company recently launched its Opus Power Cord, and added a more flexible version for less power-hungry source components, called – obviously enough – Opus Power Cord Source. Following in the footsteps of Opus interconnects and loudspeaker cables, the company has investigated every aspect of cable design, termination technology (it makes its own terminators, except for a Furutech 13A plug), and its low-pass filter network (custom designed for specific cable lengths). However, in a prime example of ‘trickle down’ technology, Transparent has used the skill-set developed to create Opus power cords and brought it to the XL and Reference lines, and even to its Premium and High Performance power cords (albeit, in the High Performance model, the high value of the design makes the inclusion of a filter network impossible). These are all part of Transparent’s Generation Five cable range, which also now includes a new High Performance Ethernet cable.


The other fascinating power product from Transparent Audio, which is gaining a lot of attention, is the new Opus PowerIsolator, or OPI. This two output combination resonance controller and noise filter for any audio system comes with a two-metre Opus power cord in its own right, but is one of the first that can deliver truly limitless current. Although on passive display (once more, a meeting room rather than a demonstration facility), OPI is gaining a reputation among serious audio enthusiasts a Power Done Properly.


D’Agostino Master Audio systems had a smaller dCS front-end (a black-finished Rossini), and smaller Wilson Audio loudspeakers (elegant and very dark grey Duette Series Two), which matched the new rich black finish of the Progression Mono power amplifiers. The show for D’Agostino was marred by the news of the sudden passing of Dan D’Agostino’s son Bret (of BSC Audio), and from everyone at Absolute Sounds, our thoughts are with the D’Agostino family at this sad time.


CES 2017 - Day One

CES as a high-end audio show is increasingly challenged by events like the Munich High-End and Hong Kong Audio show. As a consequence, new product launches in the audio sector have in many cases shifted from being rushed out in time for Las Vegas in January, to being rushed out in time for Munich in May, and this year the number of new products launched in the high-end audio sector at CES hit an all-time low. Despite this, there were some exciting new products seen for the first time, many of which will likely come to dominate the high-end market in 2017.


In the Venetian Tower, perhaps the big news of the day was the launch of a whole new series of products from Constellation Audio. Called the Revelation Series, this line of Pictor preamplifier, Andromeda phono stage, and 250W stereo or 500W mono Taurus power amplifiers are designed to feature the sound quality of the Performance Series with the chassis design of the entry-point Inspiration line, and the products are priced accordingly. Andromeda now represents the brand’s cheapest phono stage, as it proved impossible to create a phono stage in the Inspiration line without sacrificing a tiny fraction of the audio quality in the process. Constellation also announced a Centaur II 500 stereo amplifier in the Performance Series. Designed to deliver Centaur II Mono power in a stereo chassis, this does not replace the Centaur II, but offers a bit more oomph for those who need it, but cannot incorporate mono amps in their system. Constellation also announced a new black finish, and had a set of Inspiration equipment on static display. This will be available in all Constellation lines, and it delivers the same exceptional finish that the brand is famed for. This rich, dark, matt black makes it effectively impossible to photograph at a show, however!


Constellation was making one of the nicest sounds of the day, and did so through a pair of Magico’s new-last-year M3 loudspeakers. Magico was also peppered throughout the show, with particularly strong displays culminating in the Magico S7. This Magico room was also used for the passive display of the new S3 Mk II loudspeaker, and we expect this to be one of the most important loudspeakers of 2017.


Finally, for day one, Crystal Cable announced a new line of cables that start where the company’s popular Absolute Dream end. Called the Ultimate Dream, and beginning with the power cord, the new top-end cable uses seven monocrystal conductors in place of the four used in the Absolute Dream (six silver conductors wrapped around a seventh silver-gold core). The new design is intended to reduce AC-bourn magnetic and electromagnetic distortion to a new low, and other cables in the Ultimate Dream line will be expected later in the year.


CES 2017- The Journey Begins

Our people upon landing in Las Vegas met with a buzz from a privileged few that were fortunate enough to visit on their way to Vegas, David Wilson's home in Utah. The general consensus around this buzz was that perhaps the biggest – and certainly the largest – product launch this year wasn’t even at the show itself.


Wilson Audio launched the awesome WAMM Master Chronosonic loudspeaker at the end of 2016, but this out-of-this world flagship loudspeaker remained in Utah, even if the company had a one-day meet-and-greet room at the Mirage. The WAMM – the distillation of everything the Wilson Audio team have learned about loudspeakers since the foundation of the company in the early 1980s – takes its place at the pinnacle of loudspeaker technology, but the sheer scale of the project means ‘you’ go to ‘it’, not ‘it’ comes to ‘you’! However, other Wilson Audio loudspeaker models were put to great effect in rooms around both the unofficial side-car show at the Mirage hotel, and over at the Venetian Tower itself.


CES 2016 - Day Four

The fourth day of CES is one of the busiest for attendees, because the rooms are sounding better, and you can really judge what is sounding good. It’s also the day when you are most likely to take in the most interesting rooms at the show, featuring products from the Absolute Sounds stable. We begin and end with being excited by all things audio, and while our portfolio of products pulls together the finest audio components in the world, there are still excellent products from the range of companies constantly innovating and challenging us all!



Last year showed just how far the vinyl revival has come – announced that its best selling consumer electronic device sold during Christmas 2015 was a turntable! And that’s why turntables were everywhere at CES. Alongside other turntables, the big story from the high-end was the return of Continuum. The top-end turntable brand related to Constellation is back with a prototype turntable with a working title of ‘Obsidian’. Capable of holding up to two arms, with a 20kg platter made of a range of materials, the magnetic suspension deck no longer features a vacuum hold-down or bearing, but sports a huge bearing housing. Continuum also showed the Viper tonearm, which basically takes all the best parts of the prior Cobra and Copperhead arms in one. Price and delivery dates are to be confirmed, but the price point is said to be more ‘competitive’ than ‘game-changing’. This system – complete with Constellation Audio’s top electronics and MartinLogan Neolith flagship speakers – was one of the best sounding at the show.



Perhaps not a new product, but a loudspeaker that gets overlooked in the Magico portfolio, the S1.5 standmount loudspeaker was making a surprisingly fine sound, despite using a pair of tables as a loudspeaker stand. Of course, that it was driven by a D’Agostino Momentum Lifestyle integrated amplifier, helped too, but this is a fine loudspeaker in its own right!



Meanwhile, high performance audio-meets-video brand Theta showed the Compli Blu 3D universal player (with a David Reich-designed power supply), Casablanca III music and cinema controller and several Class D Prometheus monoblock power amplifiers. This was simply one of the best sounding home theatre systems we’ve ever heard!



PrimaLuna had expected to show new products, but these were stuck in customs instead of on show at CES. So, the US distributors of PrimaLuna were boldly demonstrating the effectiveness of the company’s Adaptive AutoBias, by using eight completely different power tubes to drive the same loudspeakers at the same time! For example, EL34, KT88, KT120, KT150, 6550s etc., this makes an unbelievable statement!



As for the most interesting product at the show with value for money in mind, the £500 Martin Logan Forte, the award winning multiroom wireless streamer/amplifier with 100w per channel with Airplay & DTS Play-FI and ARC (Anthem Room Correction) has to take the prize. As a bonus you have one analog input and one sub output.



Other value for money lifestyle products from Martin Logan are the Bravado wireless active speaker and the Motion-X soundbar with ARC (Anthem Room Correction) on board.



CES 2016 - Day Three

The show was buzzing all day, as mentioned earlier we noticed a great difference between sounds produced by convenient non high end devices and stands where attention had been made to system build up.



The room where the Beast was playing confirmed again that with its state of the art clock and DAC that this seems the only real solution for people seeking music servers, allowing music to flow through properly.



Koetsu was displaying an elegant and comprehensive collection of all their models reminding us that their true craftmanship is the essence of good music playback system. An essential partner for turntable systems like Continuum, TechDAS, and all state of the art devices.



At Metronome Technologie we were pleased to see and hear the final version of their Music Server/CD Player/Ripper with DSD playback on board, a promising source for people that are seeking an all-in-one device.


We still have a lot of rooms to cover, so watch this space for more reports from CES 2016 tomorrow.


CES 2016 - Day Two

Day Two. All of us from foreign lands, but nevertheless the enthusiasm of seeing brand new products gets us into overdrive. In the Venetian, a multitude of exhibitors were making average sounds with average sytems mostly due to some poorly configured USB/ Streaming devices. So, when we find a room organised by specialists it's always a pleasure and a good reminder that there is no such thing as a well calibrated high end audio system.



The Audio Research room was a fine example of such a room, highlighting the new Reference 6 preamplifier in the CES 2016 launch of the Reference 3 phono stage, all powered by Reference 250 MkII's into a lovely pair of Sonus Faber Cremonese.



WOW! What a surprise! At CES 2016 Australian brand Continuum debuted and demoed its first new turntable in more than a half decade.


The new 'table shown in prototypical form was shown with the new Continuum Viper tone arm, which is an updated version of the Copperhead tone arm. On the second arm mount was the Swedish Analogue Technologies tone arm.


The new turntable is a "plinth-less" design featuring a multi-layer platter of Delrin and aluminium, spun by a newly developed Maxon A.C. motor. The main bearing is generously sized though specific details were not available at press time. The turntable features a built-in suspension system as as well as an isolation system for the tone arm mount. The company did not have a price at this time because the 'table is still not finalized.


This amazing new turntable is bound to get a lot of followers and vinyl lovers interested. What a joy!



We now have in the picture above, a good profile of the new Magnum Opus speaker cable. The new loom is now available meaning that you can get Magnum Opus single ended and balanced interconnects. Magnum Opus is a must for anybody contemplating fine tuning a super high end system.

Transparent Audio is also launching a new range of digital interconnects. Keep this space open.



CES 2016 Day One Part Two

Continuing our coverage of CES 2016, here is some more of the latest news live from Las Vegas.



Winning the prestigious Innovation Award for its upcoming integrated amplifier, Crystal was showing off its complete system, with its diamond tweeter version of the Arabesque Minissimo (which now features an improved crossover slope), the aforementioned amplifier, and a subwoofer that looks like it is a podium for the amplifier. Crystal had almost finished the design of the Integrated, when it decided the product wasn’t good enough and started from scratch to make sure the final product is perfect. Expect the subwoofer in April , and the integrated to follow before the middle of the year.



Turntable and tubes specialist EAT launched a range of three tonearms and one turntable package at CES. The new tonearms are call C-Note, a wholly new design, which combines a unipivot with a universal joint, making an arm that combines the stability and ease of a gimballed arm, with the free, open sound of a unipivot. Available in 9”, 10”, or 12” versions, the C-Note is designed to fit on the C-Sharp, but is also available separately.

Meanwhile, the new C-Major is a slimline version of the C-Sharp, retaining the chunky clamp and lid of the more upscale product, with a carbon fibre plinth on an elastomer damping material, and a thinner platter. This represents one of the cheapest ever ways to get a full-blown EAT turntable.



The high-point of the day was hearing the new MartinLogan Renaissance ESL 15A. Available from March, featuring elements not seen in most stators, the Renaissance calls upon both the profound development that went into the Neolith, and decades of speaker building by the brand. Its ForceForward system allows fine tuning for surprisingly bad room positions, such as close to the wall. MartinLogan have also incorporated Anthem’s room correction system, and the metal frame in which the stator panel rests makes the speaker one of the most effortlessly dynamic loudspeaker sounds you will hear from a thin panel.


Please keep following this page for the latest news as it happens from Absolute Sounds in Las Vegas.




CES 2016 Day One Part One

It’s common at CES to ‘ease yourself into the show’, spending more time in rooms on the first day than you might ever do later in the event. So, with that in mind, today’s collection of brands is a relatively gentle introduction to the sheer number of brands on display in Las Vegas.



The new Progression monoblock amps from Dan D’Agostino audio follow in the tradition of classic Krell designs, delivering massive amounts of high-grade power to any loudspeaker no matter how demanding the load. Capable of delivering up to 3.2kW into a two-ohm load, each one of these amplifiers weighs close to 68kg and sports 84 output devices. These distinctive looking amps was on passive display alongside the finalised version of the phono stage and the rest of the D’Agostino range.



At the Mirage Hotel Suite B60 we heard the S1 MkII singing straight out of its crate!


The S1 Mk II is an entirely new design and incorporates distilled elements from the ground breaking engineering accomplishments found in the S7.


Detailed and extended high frequencies are provided by a newly designed 1-inch Magico Diamond coated Beryllium diaphragm tweeter. A robust motor system enables lower distortion and cutoff frequencies that enhance driver integration with the mid bass driver.


Captivating mid-bass performance is generated by a newly designed 7-inch Magico driver that sets a new benchmark of measured performance. The underhung neodymium base motor system uses two extra-large magnets which provide as ultra-stabilized magnetic field for the pure titanium voice coil to operate within.


Both transducers are acoustically integrated using Magico’s exclusive Elliptical Symmetry Crossover topology that includes state-of-the-art components from Mundorf of Germany. The dividing network maximizes frequency bandwidth while preserving phase linearity and minimizes IM distortion.


Bravo again to the Magico team for bringing us a compact floorstander with huge performance.



Wilson Audio at the Mirage Hotel is showing the sensational new Alexx, a new exciting member to the Wilson Audio line up, positioned above the Alexia and below the Alexandria XLF.


The Alexx, replacing the Maxx III, and much like the Alexia and the Sabrina that preceded it, will push the proverbial envelope in the areas of coherence, dynamic contrast, and musicality for its category. Within the Alexx platform, Wilson Audio continues its exploration of low-resonance composites and cabinet geometries—the implementation of which significantly advances the state-of-the-art for ultra-low-noise cabinets. New drivers within ground-breaking modular configurations—all complimented by their latest thinking on industrial design—complete the picture.


Finally for Part One, a sure sign of a loudspeaker’s success at a show like CES is when it appears on the end of a wide range of systems across the event. So it is with Wilson Audio’s Sabrina loudspeakers, which did sterling service in more rooms than we have ever seen or heard before.


More to follow in Part Two… stay tuned!


The Perfect Storm is Gathering

The beginning of the year is always marked by thousands of people pouring in to Las Vegas to see and hear the latest in consumer electronic technology. Amongst the various tiers of technology the Venetian Hotel and the Mirage are home to the latest stars in high end audio.


The show is starting tomorrow and we will be there and it is with great excitement and anticipation that we will be reporting to you daily from the heart of the buzzing corridors of both locations to bring you all the latest news.


As a small preview we have heard of the latest launch from Wilson Audio Alex to replace the Maxx III. We also have heard the rumour that D'Agostino will be unveiling three new products, one being a new amplifier within the range, a more affordable model, the Progression mono amplifier with its 800w into 8 Ohms and/or 3200w into 2 Ohms.


We look forward to reporting similar news from Audio Research, Constellation Audio, Crystal Cable, EAT, Jadis, Krell, Metronome, Magico, Martin Logan, Primaluna, Sonus Faber, TechDAS, Transparent Audio, Theta Digital, Wadia, Wilson Audio.


Watch this space and come back tomorrow!


Guildford Audio Show 2015 - Part Two

The show was awash with well selected, highly musical audio imports.


For the first time ever the new Wadia Series One and Series Three were seen and heard in partnership with the very sought after Sonus Faber Olympica IIIs to an appreciative audience.


Tony Scott, successfuly featured in an other room a system based Audio Research Reference Series powering the wonderful Franco Serblin Accordo Series, this system was very sensual.


The owner of Guildford Audio Trevor Martin always stages very imformative and very musical demonstrations, his system alternated between Dan D'Agostino Electronics with their new integrated Momentum M Life Music Server/Amplifier and Audio Research G Series amplification giving a wise choice of two very distinct tonal presentations, all of that through the Wilson Alexias and the none the less limited edition Sonus Faber Xtremas.

Another star of the show was the debut of the Sonus Faber Lilium Gold made of pure 24 carat gold leaf, making it a super sounding product in a gold dress....why ever not?


Guildford Audio Show 2015 - Part One

Springtime in Reading accompanied a fabulous audio event sponsored by Guildford Audio.


Absolute Sounds was there in full and had four active displays. Many sophisticated and knowledgable listeners travelled from all over the UK to experience great sounds.


In Listening Suite One, listeners had the priviledge of being amongst the first in the UK and probably Europe to hear the Wilson Audio Sabrinas, powered by the new entry level Constellation Inspiration Series, making it a truly exceptional system enabling the first ever super high end experience at this price.


Absolute Sounds also brought three exceptional sources to at times drive the system further demonstrating the limitless performance of the speakers. Those sources were the Kalista Ultimate for the CD, the ReQuest Audio "The Beast" as a multi format player/server, and the almighty Air Force One as the analog front end.


In that specific suite, people were overjoyed to also discover that the great KL Audio ultrasonic vinyl cleaner was essential for those who care about getting the very best out of their system.


An Award Winner from Prima Luna

Continuing with PrimaLuna’s founding principle of offering sophisticated components with advanced features for an exceptional price, the DiaLogue Three Preamplifier is yet another winner in PrimaLuna’s string of first place finishers.


One of the first things you’ll notice about the Three is its size: the dual-mono designed preamp weighs in at a hefty 24kg… that’s some serious iron! Much of that comes from its new, heavy-duty, DiaLogue class power transformers – already recognized as a reference in the industry – that provide increased control and detail.  And in the unlikely event that one of the transformers should overheat, DiaLogue’s innovative new PTP-circuit cuts the primary power, allows the unit to cool down, and then resets itself.


The preamp also features another protective measure, a SoftStart circuit that powers it up gently and extends the life of tubes and other sensitive components.


However, unquestionably the most significant feature is DiaLogue Three’s front end, a complete re-design of the award winning ProLogue Three. Utilizing all 12AU7s, it combines with the new transformers to lower noise and increase low level resolution in ways not thought possible.

In fact, distortion levels in the first stage have dropped by a factor of five at low levels, to at least 20 at higher levels, above one volt.

The DiaLogue Three is tube rectified, utilizing two 5AR4 vacuum tubes. And it employs all premium parts, including a motorized Alps Blue Velvet potentiometer; Nichicon, Swellong and  Solen capacitors (including some tinfoils); fast-recovery diodes; ceramic tube sockets; and gold-plated, panel mounted input and output jacks that provide a more secure connection.


Further, the DiaLogue Three has five line level inputs for maximum versatility, one RCA tape out and two RCA pre outs as well as a home theater pass-thru circuit that promises to keep everyone in the family happy. Finally, it comes with a stunning, heavy-gauge, anodized aluminium remote that controls all functions of the preamp as well as those of the Prologue Eight  CD player and the DiaLogue Eight CD player (coming soon).


All these exceptional features come encased in the exquisite DiaLogue chassis, with its five- stage, hand-rubbed, high-gloss, black-sapphire finish.


CES Vegas - Metronome

Métronome at CES2015 in Las Vegas  was introducing the brand new entry level “Le Player" CD that's performance according to a few afficianados present will surpass it's rivals available at that price. Metronome is reputed for giving soul to the digital format so we eagerly await these units.


Jean Marie Clauzel also announced that the C8 DAC will now come with compatibility to read DSD files, we welcome this new added option. Pictured above you will also notice a full blown stack with the Kalista ultimate and the C8 with various power supply options.


Another great CES2015 display, we are  happy to see people actively supporting the CD and DSD formats in a world invaded by weak musical streams.


CES Vegas - Q7 - Q Sub 18 & M Project

We find ourselves here at the wonderful CES 2015 with Alon Wolff from Magico, pictured above with the sold out limited edition M Project loudspeaker.


Magico, as always challenged what is possible at a show such as CES 2015 by partnering the all time reference Q7 with the truly symphonic Q sub 18. This system technically can crack the very foundations with acoustic output.


We also know that the massive Q7 loudspeakers need absolutely no help in the low-bass department, Magico chose to demonstrate this system to show just what's possible when cost is no object, and how tightly integrated a great sub can be with great loudspeakers.


Firstly, you need to know is that this system produced the deepest, tightest bass ever heard: tight, but super deep; articulate, but able to bust the lights in the ceiling. Subsequently, even more impressive was the integration of the subwoofer to the Q7s - it was just ideal.


The Magico system's bass quality was just epic in proportion, but I'd be remiss if I didn't mention the rest of the frequency range, which was served just as expertly by the Q7s. Simply put, no speaker I've heard disappears like the Q7 as a source of sound in the room, and this effect was on full display in the Magico demo at the Mirage. The resolution was standard-setting, but the music was presented in a way that only enhanced the listening experience. When the guitar screamed into the picture during a funky jazz track, the raw, unbridled power of the system was on full display. But that power could conceal itself into the tiniest of spaces for just-as-impressive microdynamics.


The Q7 is in many ways the finest loudspeaker available today add a Q Sub 18 and you are reaching audio heaven with a bass from hell.


CES Vegas - Meet Sabrina

Wilson Audio is a popular demonstrator’s choice at CES2015. The brand’s loudspeakers appear in many rooms around the show, because enthusiasts who use Wilson loudspeakers for product development and personal listening run many of those rooms. However, Wilson Audio itself chooses to demonstrate its products at the nearby Mirage hotel. This is in part because the rooms are more hospitable (and often better sounding), and allows more refined contemplation.


The new product for the show was the Sabrina, a new entry point three-way design for the brand. Sabrina builds on the lessons learned in developing many of Wilson’s top products, including the mighty XLF, delivering true trickle-down performance in a floorstanders that will suit smaller systems and budgets. The final versions of the Sabrina will be expected soon.


Wilson also announced a new super loudspeaker, marking a potential return to the WAMM. No photos and no recording techniques were allowed, just a simple discussion of how Wilson Audio came about (from early days of a young Dave Wilson tinkering around with loudspeakers in a garage in the 1960s to building the foremost high-end loudspeaker brand today), and how that development process speaks to the new WAMM.


A prototype was shown – with five modular upper sections held in XLF-style side-braces sitting on a larger bass block – and challenges our powers of description. It’s a very deep, tall, large loudspeaker (it needs to be, it is expected to outperform the current XLF/Thor’s Hammer combination, and WAMM is claimed to reach to 16Hz or lower in room). However, its front aspect is surprisingly narrow. Unlike the previous WAMM, there will be no electrostatic panels. Not even a sneak photo allowed sadly.


CES Vegas - Phantom

Devialet challenged the high-end status quo with its D-Premier. Now it’s trying to do the same thing again with lifestyle connectivity in the Phantom.


Phantom is a network-connected active loudspeaker, designed like no other product out there in it's price range (under $2000). It’s a sealed box design with miniaturised versions of the ADH engine built into the enclosure, and uses side firing implosive (’pulsating’) bass radiators.


It comes in two forms; standard, and Silver Phantom with higher power and silver inserts and ‘imploders’. This can connect to the world using the Dialog WiFi Sharing centre (basically an audio-dedicated wi-fi network, with the computing horsepower of a Mac Mini and beyond for the cost of an iPad), and represents a complete change in the way we think about audio in the home.


The Phantom loudspeakers can be used around the house in a simple multiroom environment, controlled from an elegant Spark app and are claimed to deliver a ground-breaking 16Hz-25kHz ±2dB in room thanks to SAM, all from a loudspeaker the size of a crash-helmet!


There’s even a matching stand, which looks extremely elegant, too!


CES Vegas - Transparent Cable

You'll see above a panoramic shot of Transparent audio Gen 5 cable display at the Mirage CES 2015.


Karen Sumner defined the category of high-end audiophile cables in the 1980s with MIT and went on to found Transparent Cable in 1995 with partners Jack Sumner and Carl Smith. With Transparent Cable, Karen has successfully elevated the category of high-end audiophile cables to that of an audio component by offering new technology, more performance


New Generation 5 cables network specifications are roughly 10 times more exact than previous technology Transparent cables. The results are immediately evident to all who listen: more low-level information, more musical palpability at the frequency extremes, and a much greater measure of the dynamic range contained within the source material.


Generation 5 Transparent Opus speaker cable and interconnects with their new network technology and superior construction. The very best just got even better!


These cables will give you and instant upgrade to you music system, we simply love them.


CES Vegas - Call In The Air Force

The view from the top of the Venetian tower is impressive, especially when it’s accompanied by some of the finest vinyl sounds around from the extremely good Air Force One turntable by TechDAS.


We’ve seen this turntable at a number of shows, usually in the company of a Graham Elite tonearm and a TechDAS TDC01/Ti cartridge as seen here, and it’s never once sounded anything less than outstanding. And at the Venetian, in a system comprising LAMM amplification and Verity Audio loudspeakers, it was sounding wonderful.

There’s also a family sound. The TechDAS Air Force Two turntable was in a second system, this time with a Graham Phantom tonearm, and LAMM electronics, in an adjacent room. This also sounded sublime.

Two of the best sounds of the day.


CES Vegas - Krell Vanguard- Updated

We’re seeing a trend here at CES 2015.


Krell also showed its new integrated amplifier, called the Vanguard. This modular integrated amplifier allows both analogue inputs and digital streaming as standard, with an optional module coming soon to extend that to include HDMI, USB, and S/PDIF digital interfaces.


Krell is really taking the pulse of the new buyers in audio, and the keenly-priced Vanguard is at the head of this charge. It includes as standard full Ethernet music streaming with its own iOS or Android app, and even supports full apt-X Bluetooth connectivity. And yet, Krell has not forsaken what it does best in the process; this heavyweight amp sports a 750VA toroidal transformer, 80,000µF of storage capacitance and doubles its cruising 200W per channel into eight ohms to a bruising 400W into four.


CES Vegas - Neolith & Solo System

Martin Logan are showing the Neolith here at CES Vegas 2015 .The stunning piece of technology above is not the cockpit guard from an X-Wing fighter, nor some sort of teleportation device plucked from the future. No, this curious, screened contraption is the latest breakthrough from the audio gurus at Martin Logan, a new speaker called the Neolith. And that screen rising from that stout anchor of speakers at the base isn’t for show — it’s the company’s largest-ever electrostatic radiating surface.


Channeling the history nerd inside, Martin Logan apparently named the Neolith after the Neolithic period. For those a little rusty on their background of human evolution, the Neolithic period was a watershed moment for civilization — a time when humankind stepped from the shadows of ignorance, created tools and agriculture, and took its first real strides towards enlightenment.


The system sounds fantastic here in the Venetian Hotel in Las Vegas, Nevada in partnership with and powered by Krell Solo amplification.


CES Vegas - The Crystal Cube

Another product that caught our eye this week is The Cube from Crystal Cable.


The ‘cable’ part of the Crystal Cable name is becoming increasingly stretched, as the husband and wife team of Edwin and Gabi Rijnveld continue to develop new loudspeakers and electronics, to showcase the company’s excellent monocrystal cables. The recent Minissimo loudspeaker has proved extremely popular with critics around the world, and the company’ new CCI (Crystal Cube Integrated) amplifier will only draw more people to the Crystal brand.


A clever take on the ultra-high-end SAGA concept, the standing-bias Class AB circuit features the sophisticated optically decoupled Light Drive DC power supply to the fully complimentary, isolated inputs. Getting rid of the jargon, this means in a world of increasingly digital amplifiers, this is an all-analogue design from first principles, and sounds great for it. You can even change the colour of the display from the unique two-way Cube Controller handset, which is about the size of a Rubik’s Cube.


The Cube will make a perfect partner for the Stand mount Minissimo loudspeaker giving birth to the Cube system.


Bravo Gabi! We wish you a great show.


CES Vegas 2015 - Orion

Welcome back!


One of the Constellation novelties here at CES 2015 is the long awaited phono stage with its solid aluminum chassis with integral vibration damping Ultra-quiet circuit topology for ultimate signal purity, designed by John Curl, the world’s greatest expert on phono preamplifiers.


The included Pyxis system controller allows unprecedented fine-tuning and adjustment Separate power supplies for left channel, right channel, and control circuitry.


The Orion’s left and right stereo channels are fed by separate supplies to reduce crosstalk. A third power supply feeds the control circuitry. Thus, high- frequency fluctuations from the control signals cannot leak into the audio circuitry through the power supply.


The power supplies are isolated in a separate chassis so their energy cannot interfere with audio signals. Each power supply has its own transformer to eliminate interaction among the supplies. Power is carried to the main chassis through three-conductor PCOCC cables tipped with Hypertronics connectors originally created for aerospace applications.


The Orion’s circuitry is fully balanced, which means it employs two “mirror- imaged” amplifier circuits. One circuit amplifies the positive half of the audio signal, the other amplifies the negative half. This design cancels noise and interference.


The exquisite combination of John Curl’s circuitry, extraordinary components, meticulous construction, and innovative industrial design make the Constellation Audio Orion the finest phono preamplifier ever created.


Prepare to find new subtleties you never previously heard. Prepare to hear dynamics of which you never imagined vinyl would be capable. And prepare for the most profound musical experience of your life.


CES Vegas 2015 - The MLife

On day two of our CES2015 experience Absolute Sounds are pleased to announce Dan D’agostino launching with great excitement the MLife integrated version of the Momentum. This new integrated amplifier uses exactly the same circuit and chassis as the Momentum model. The main differences being in terms of internet connectivity, including Apple Airplay and Bluetooth aptX , and compatibility with digital audio files (CAD DSD and PCM integrated 24-192 ) with S/PDIF and USB inputs.


Instead of tone controls is now one network interface that can be controlled by iOS (iPhone, iPad etc. ). It is also fully UPnP compatible.


Absolute Sounds are looking forward to seeing the D'Agostino MLife model land in the UK in the near future. Watch this space for more news.


This unit becomes a huge forward in joining the big world of streaming contents and is fully networkable.


CES Vegas 2015 - Talk Of The Town

Not one but three exciting new products bearing the DAN D’AGOSTINO name were introduced at CES. A powerhouse of an amplifier tentatively called the Cinema Standard was shown, able to add three channels for 5.1 surround sound capability to an existing D’Agostino stereo set-up. The amplifier is also offered as a two-channel version in the same chassis, possibly called the Stereo Standard.


Both amplifiers deliver a hefty 250W/ch into 8 ohms, or a massive kilowatt into 2 ohms. These are distinguished from the Momentum range by their “old school,” hardcore styling, in chunky cases 6U high, and through prices that are roughly a third of an equivalent Momentum. These units also feature switchable high-pass and low-pass filters for suitability with subwoofers, and each channel is fed by an XLR input. Any two adjacent channels can be bridged, too, so, for example, the stereo can act as a double-the-power monoblock.


But it was an addition to the Momentum family that stole the show: Dan has removed the tone controls from the Momentum Integrated Amp to create a new model, replacing that segment of the fascia with a 5in LCD screen. In all other respects, it’s a Momentum Integrated, but that LCD panel lets you know it is streaming-ready: when we walked in an saw a Momentum Integrated with album sleeve art on the fascia, we went, “Whoa!” At present, it’s referred to as “Mlife,” but that name will probably change.


For the US equivalent of £3000 more, the new integrated adds a load of features for streamers, including built-in AirPlay, aptX Bluetooth 4.0 and Tidal – currently the hottest name in streaming. Also part of the package are UPnP for streaming from serves, the ability to play music from USB sticks, digital access via USB, optical and coaxial inputs, vTuner Internet Radio and plans for additional streaming services including Spotify, Deezer and Sirius XM. The unit also has an analogue XLR input.


Control? Easy: iOS and Android apps mean operation via smartphones and tablets, with the metadata displayed on the LCD panel. It also shows input, volume level and other operating parameters. The DAC capability covers all the usual suspects up to 24/192kHz – DSD, WAV, FLAC and PCM – as well as AIFF, AAC, Ogg Vorbis, WMA and, of course, MP3.


Power?.......200W/ch into 8 ohms, a serious amount of power from an integrated, so this is streaming with kick.


We were excited to hear “the player” and the C8 from Metronome as seen in stack above the C8 will now support DSD files.


Constellation audio is also showing the brand new integrated in the inspiration series an absolute must.



Welcome to CES 2015

Absolute Sounds are pleased to be able to bring you daily reports from International CES 2015 featuring some of the ultimately innovative products from the world of High End Hi Fi.


Check back every day to this blog to hear about the latest in technological advances from our industry. We will be taking a closer look at a number of products that are enjoying a much anticipated debut at the show this week from all the big names in the Absolute Sounds stable of brands.


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