Soulution of Swiss fame and fortune (that's referring to the fortune you'll need to buy their products…) was on display with JMLab Grande Utopia's, showing off their capabilities in full force. Large scale dynamic rock or symphonic sounds presented no problem whatsoever for this combo, then again, at the price point, it shouldn't! The electronics alone, ie. amps, pre-, and disc player came in at a cool $200k...
Newport 2011: Evolution Acoustics, Playback Designs & darTZeel
24bit 384khz, double DSD 6.1mhz via USB? Yep, Playback Designs has it.
Vegas07 Biggest Boat Anchors: Ypsilon
The biggest amps at the show and definitely some of the biggest in the world, Ypsilon Electronic's SET 100 amps aren't your garden variety solid state monsters. The Ypsilons put out only 120 watts of hybrid power with tubes in the input stage and mosfets for the juice. Like the name SET-100 implies, the amps are completely single ended. When you go for single ended in solid state, the amps gotta be huge.
Ypsilon is out of Greece and is looking for an American distributor to pick up the brand. And like anything milled out of solid blocks of aluminum, prices aren't cheap. In Euros: 53k for the SET-100 amps, 30k for the PST-100 preamp, 20k for the DAC-100 and 15K for the CDT-100. More pics next page...
Kalista T2i CD Player
Are CDs dead? Audiophile extraordinaire Bob Levi recently had this to say about the Metronome double-box T2i CD player, an all-out assault on the silver disc:
“Bull's-eye Metronome! The elegant, new solid-state Metronome T2i Signature two box top loader propels CDs right to the top of the silver disk format heap while raising the bar for digital CD playback to new heights of realism! It fully equals the finest separates and one box solutions while setting startlingly higher standards for harmonic accuracy, quietude, clarity of depth, neutrality, and you-are-there imaging. Holy mackerel audiophiles, CD playback just can't get much better than this!”
I recently heard the T2i Signature in Bob’s system and came to the same conclusion: Metronome has a real winner here. Through Bob’s ultra revealing system consisting of Avalon Eidolon speakers, Pass Labs passive pre, NuForce 9SE’s & EAR 890 tube smackers, the Metronome gear simply surpassed the sound quality of his other reference playback equipment – by a long shot! Personally, the one feature which most amazed me was the razor sharp resolution and imaging the Metronome stack afforded. All this from plain ol’ Redbook, aka 16/44.1 compact disc, now what… close to 30 years in age? Not sure how the Frenchies managed to do it, but they seem to have been able to extract the last bit of information off the CD. Got $22k laying around? Go spend it on the Metronome.
Swiss Nagra embraces your fantasizes of owning audio equipment styled like the cockpit of a Russian MiG fighter jet. Feminine tastes be damned, this stuff is rad. And it sounds great as well, or so was the opinion of everyone who heard the Nagra/Verity room.
Nagra is making a resurgence with a handful of components coming out of the ultra-expensive pro scene. That CD-C transport was the star of the room. The entire CD drive mechanism ejects from the transport and can, I'm told, support hundreds of pounds of pressure (but don't test it). The player also has a solid state line stage built in, as can be seen in the larger pics next page. Price for the Nagra CD-C is expected to be between $10k and $16k. On the very top is the Nagra V professional recorder.
Below, those barefoot-in-a-dark-room-nightmares on the floor are the $19,295 Nagra VPA monoblock amps using 845 tubes for 50 watts of juice. On the bottom of the rack is the $15,995 Nagra MPA solid state amp pumping out 250 watts which was playing when I was there. An integrated version of the MPA with remote is also available for $18, 995. In the middle of the rack is Audion's Quattro double box preamp which was used for most of the show.
All cabling was solid palladium wire by Silversmith. Prices are as follows:
Six foot speaker cables: $9800
Three foot interconnects: $4000
Dixie cup cable elevators: Priceless
Keep reading for some of the coolest photos from the show.
HE2006: Lamm, Metronome, Wilson
Metronome Technologie of France makes absolutely gorgeous space-age CD players and turntables. Shown are the $20,000 Kalista CD player above and the Gaia turntable below. Can anyone guess what the speakers were? Yup, Wilson Sofias.
Lamm drove the Wilsons with their ML1.1 tube amps and M1.2 tube hybrid amps. More pictures of the Lamm equipment next page.
Wadia Ultra Tech
If you've been to any audio website in the last month, you've no doubt seen the Wadia ads. With an ad campaign so prevalent, they deserve a mention. So who is this Wadia? Wadia is like the Ferrari of digital, a company built around building extremely expensive equipment to push the limits of those little 1s and 0s, or so their marketing material tells me. But like any audio company, they've gone in and out of the limelight for the last decade or so. This time around, their marketing push is for their new series 9, starting with a preamp and eventually moving towards a full bevy of world-class components.
Pictured above is Wadia's new Series 9 Decoding Computer system. Now, here's the deal with Wadia: preamps are old school. Yeah, "Decoding Computers" are what the cool kids are using. The Series 9 Decoding Computer is a three box affair, rocking all kinds of digital voodoo. The way it works you plug your CD transport (a player sans DAC) into the Digital Computer and Wadia gets crazy with the bits. How crazy, you ask?
Three digital signal processors coupled with our most advanced up-sampling software (DigiMaster™ 1.4), churn out an astounding 2.8224 million samples per second at a theoretical 26 bits of resolution.
So crazy, it's well beyond my meager intelligence. In any case, 6Moons cops a review of Wadia's "entry level" system -- the 270SE and 27ix. This system functions like the Series 9 gear, but not as expensive (only a 20 grand drop in the bucket). 6Moons gives 'em some mad love so go read for more.
With all their advertising, one would think these guys should make a large splash with their new equipment. If I remember correctly, the Series 9 Decoding Computer runs $40k, but I could be wrong. CDs are great an all, but I want to hear what 40 grand can do to USB audio.
Update: The Series 9 Decoding Computer (no CD transport) is $27,850.
Metronome Technologie Kalista Review
Is it possible for a transport to make CDs sound like vinyl? Two of the 6Moons crew think so:
[Kalista transport] prove that CD isn't the inferior medium after all and on most occasions can live right next to -- if not easily compete with -- vinyl.
Big words. Of course, a product that takes on ol' waxy wouldn't be cheap, now would it? 20k Euros ($23k approx) is the price of the Kalista Transport by Metronome Tecnologies. This French company makes a number of different CD models at lower prices but without the hyper-industrial flair and, presumably, the vinyl-worthy sound.
-Pickup mechanism modified from the Pihlips CDM12 PRO 2.
-"Methacrylate" and stainless-steel body.
-Central mechanism milled from solid aluminum block.
-Upsampling to 24-bit/96kHz.
-Separate power supply.
-Delrin isolation feet.
-131lbs total weight.
Linn Unidisk 1.1 Review
Audio Video Revolution looks at the mighty expensive Linn Unidisk 1.1 disc player priced at $10,995 and has some mighty fine words of praise:
"When all was said and done, the performance of the Unidisk 1.1 was unmatched and had me smiling from ear to ear. I recommend this player to anyone who wants uncompromised performance and the flexibility of a single box that plays everything."
The Linn Unidisk does, as the name implies, play everything except Blu-Ray or HD-DVD. Now, while performance is killer in all the typical areas, the Linn Unidisk does not upscale to 1080p like the $6500 Classe CDP-300 disc player and other trendy players on the market.
Linn Unidisk 1.1 Review [A/V Revolution]
Harmonix Reimyo CDP-777 CD Player
Got $15k to spend on a new CD player? That makes two of us...but the lucky bastards over at Stereo Times do and they say, hands down, the Japanese Harmonix Reimyo CDP-777 is the best of the best of the best. Really, what is there to say???