seen and heard @ CES, part II

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by Danny Kaey on January 20 '08

Yello, Vivid & Luxman = maximum satisfaction


What do you get when you crank Yello’s Planet Dada Flamboyant Mix to 115db peaks?  Hint: duck for cover, as ceiling mounted objects may start flying. The following is a true story of the events as they unfolded around 8:34pm local time, Tuesday, Januray 8th, 2008.  As guests started pouring into Philip O’Hanlon’s Luxman/Vivid/Weiss room (Mr. O’Hanlon is of course the preeminent Irish posterchild of the O’Hanlon family tree; whomever would call him British ought to be punished by drinking ten rounds of nice, warm, toasty British Ale, followed by four servings of fish & chips, deep fried, natrually), everyone immediately opined and conversed about the unusually striking Vivid Giya loudspeaker. 


“Yes, but how do they sound?”  That was the question on everyone’s mind.  Philip, his usual confident self, left that answer to the Giya’s and promptly turned the knob, volume knob that is, to about 1 o’clock.  For the attendants of this show and tell event this was superb entertainment.  Driven by Luxman’s reference B-1000f monoblocks capable of delivering 2kw of power into 1Ohm, the Giya’s were moving some serious air, with peaks hitting 115db.  If you read my article on how much fun it is to listen to music loud, than imagine the vibe this session initiated.  Then, suddenly, “POP, POP”  No, the drivers didn’t blow up; neither did the B-1000f’s: instead, two ceiling mounted spot lights came undone by the shear power and bass energy emanating through the room…


Wow. Now that my friends, is show business! (Nikon D300, ISO 6400, NR = Medium)


Nikon D3

What do you get for $5000 these days?  Well, you can buy a pair of Zu Druids with a nice Manley integrated, or, the new Nikon D3 body only - of course.  Having shot all my photos this year with the D3’s smaller brother, the D300, I am definitely looking forward to getting the D3 at some point in the future.  Unlike the D300, the D3 is a full frame (ie. no crop) sensor design, which means that all your Nikon glass will work exactly the way it was designed: the astounding 14-24mm ultra-wide angle for example will be just that, an ultra-wide at 14mm.  9fps, totally useable ISO 6400 performance, what else does one need? 


No surprise then that I saw at least a dozen or so D3s at CES, mostly Japanese bloggers and techies.  Being my spontaneous self, I managed to fire off a salvo at an innocent female bystander in the cramped confinement of elevator shaft #3 at the Venetian.  Hearing 9fps clacking away made for amusing giggles from the Japanese fella’ who “lent” me the camera and even more so from the cute female.  Now where are those fotos, dude?  (He promised to email them, I’ll keep you posted)


Music Servers galore

Talking to a famous Hollywood insider, er, audiophile insider during CES, our conversation turned to the future of high performance audio.  “You know Danny, what I love about HE audio is that this industry perfects what the masses want and use.”  Thus, as I had predicted 5 years ago, music servers and various (high-end) iPod gadgets were all the rage at this years show.  With companies like Naim, Wadia, Sooloos, Hovland, Krell, Modwright (Transporter) and many others displaying their latest wares, I think one can safely say that these types of devices will soon penetrate even the most die-hard audiophiles as being the legitimate successor to the venerable compact disc.  If you thought entering this realm would mean spending gobs of money, think again. 

The most inexpensive way to begin serving yourself is via the iPod/iPhone.  Wadia, one of the most recognized names in the digital domain launched their iPod/iPhone dock, aptly dubbed the “iTransport” which allows the iPod to output its signal natively, ie. bypassing the iPod’s guts  and internal DACs.  Then your DAC of choice takes over and, voila, high quality music from the iPod comes alive.

In essence, this $349 device, coupled with a 6th generation iPod is your least complicated way to enter the world of hard disk based, integrated music servers.  The minute they become available, a unit is being dispatched to us for a full review.


On the Wadia iTransport, you might want to note that there are other docks with digital output for less, such as DLO's HomeDock HD ($250, optical audio out).
Hi Fred, I don't believe (waiting for confirmation from DLO) that the HomeDock in fact bypasses the iPod's digital/analog output section like the iTransporter from Wadia. That is a major feature which is the raison d'etre of the iTransporter.