CES 2012 - Astin Trew range of amps and CD players
Astin who?, I hear you say...
Well, it is a British brand, and one who is managed by a very passionate and dedicated man, Michael Osborn, quite bewildered to be at the CES - as it was indeed their first appearance in the US of A - and interviewed by a no less passionate Frenchman living in Australia!
Mainly famous for their fairly priced audiophile amplifiers in the UK,
I have to say that I originally was tempted to flee and not listen to Michael's passionate discourse on components choice and typology in amplifier's design. I am not the "splitting Hair" type when it comes to amplifiers...
However, the little time I spend on the stand was enough to convince me that given the chance, I should maybe take the time to listen to some this gear.
Not at that Show, though, as it was a static display. Nevertheless, the quality of manufacture, and by way of consequence, the soundness of the design was quite simply on display and definitely supported by the manufacturer.
The CD player on offer is based on a 24/96 BB PCM1738 DAC and Philips VAM 1202 transport.
Although the design is conducted in the UK, the manufacture is in Asia, which seems to be well controlled if you trust the obvious quality of the finished product. One to follow for sure...
CES 2012 - Jadis Orphhe CD player
Like the Ypsilon and Oracle players, Jadis uses the same Philips Pro mechanism. It uses an Analog Devices 24bit DAC and all the analog section is valve-based, as you would expect from this particular manufacturer.
The look is definitely retro-Jadis, and it is also a top loader, not the easiest machine to fit in an installation.
A USB connector gives you access to the internal DAC, separately from the CD player.
Very few specs are available for this product, so it is a matter of listening tests only, obviously difficult to appraise at a Show.
What I would expect is a good integration with Jadis electronics to provide a balanced, warm and musical sound, evidence of which was definitely there at the Show.
To paraphrase the website of this Quebec-based intitution,
Igor Stravinsky wrote: "It is not sufficient to hear the music, one should also see it". Hence the name Oracle which means:
"bringing the voice of God to reality".
and by the way, I thought that it is exactly what my new OPPO player is doing...
Back to Oracle, this machine has landed on Earth a while ago, and at around 10k$, is way out of most people budget.
However, reading through a few of the reviews written over time, it seems that the sound quality of this extraterrestrial object might well be a precursor of my beloved new toy. The specs are not as good as the OPPO and I didn't get a chance of a proper listen, but given the credentials of the company established in 1979 withe Delphi turntable (a dream of mine at the time, and a very sci-fi looking one as well) I am tempted to say that if you can use a top loader and want to impress your design savvy friends, this might well be worth saving for...
CES 2012 - Ypsilon CDT - 100 CD Transport
The remarkable Philips CD-PRO II mechanism is the heart of the machine, and its original mounting on what I understand to be a sandwich of aluminium and stainless steel plates supported by space age looking feet gives the transport the stability and necessary decoupling from unwanted vibrations gives this very well crafted player the basis on its very good mechanical performance.
The internal DAC provides an analog output, so the CDT-100 can be used as a stand alone CD player.
However, a proprietary analog current output is also provided to drive the proprietary external DAC - 100 for the most amazing results. More on this product in the soon to be released DAC section. Suffice to say that it is 24/192 capable and uses input transformers and valves....
You guessed it correctly - I was waiting to have my very own OPPO BD-95 to start reviewing sources encountered at the CES! And yes, it was my birthday present, and yes it does all it is supposed to do and does it very well indeed and I love it to bits!
It has been reviewed by every conscientious hifi journalist on the Planet, including a raving Ken Kessler, not a mince feast!
So, I am not going to do an in-depth review here, but after having listened to half a dozen CDs or so and two Blu-Ray, I can confirm that this machine does extract information from these discs in an extremely accurate way and present it to your ears in full colour - absence of noise, perfect silence between notes, accurate decays, impeccable timbre accuracy and amazing dynamic range even on my NAD amp - my Bryston 3b having decided to blow a fuse in the installation process and being at the Syntec hospital for a few more days!
I can't wait to get it back and enjoy even more firmness in the bass and more silk in the treble.
On a very rare recording of Memphis Slim in Paris in 1963 (INA FCD 127), recorded in various large and small venues, you can instantly recognised the differences, rather than just feel them on another player. It was particularly true of the recordings at "Les Trois Maillets", Memphis's favourite joint in Paris, where I was fortunate enough to meet and listen to him playing and singing with no mike, my arm resting on his piano, and that was a few years later in 1971, when I was at Uni. A real life and live experience...
It just confirms that a well designed 24/192 player can give a better sound than vynil and at a fraction of the price (1500$), my references being Michell Orbe (6000$) and Bergman (12000$) here...or a good old Rega, bien sur!
I have listened so far to Dire Straits "Private Investigations" and Andrea Boccelli live in Tuscany on Blu-Ray
- the video performance limited only by the smallish size of my LG LCD screen, but still providing blacker blacks and more accurate colours and nuances (ah, that sunset in Tuscany...), and on CD Stravinsky's Firebird Suite, and Rite of Spring on Decca (see my "Music" page), Carl Orff's Carmina Burana on DGG - a challenge for the NAD amp, I have to say... - , Carmen Fantasy with Anne-Sophie Mutter (obviously...should I say that to me Anne Sophie Mutter is to music what Sophie Marceau is to French Cinema???)) also on DGG, Astrud Gilberto Gold collection of Brazilian inspired songs on Verve, also on Verve "Ella and Louis", on Decca again the Organ Symphony and violin concerto number 3 by Saint-Saens, and The Astounding Eyes of Rita by Anouar Brahem playing the oud so graciously on ECM - and by the way, I still found time to work and cook!
Roquemaure is a picturesque village on the west bank of the Rhone river, drinking distance from Chateauneuf-du-Pape, Lirac, Tavel and many more famous wineries - including my favourite Cotes-du-Rhone: Vidal-Fleury!
Christophe Bedel, the enthusiastic and knowledgeable owner of related website www.hifi-vintage-audiophile.fr has just been in contact with me asking if I could promote this event on my blog. I couldn't refuse!
In fact, I am trying to convince Greg Borrowman from AHM, who will be in France at that time visiting Focal and hopefully Waterfall Audio to stop by and report on the only fair of this type I know of in the South of France!
This is good timing too as a number of Festivals are happening in the region over the summer period, with usually a fantastic array of live concerts to choose from - Avignon being the most famous of them, but Uzes, Carpentras, Bagnols sur Ceze, La Roque d'Antheron ( a must!), Aix en Provence, Orange and Nimes all competing for your time (and good money..)
So, if you are one of 43 out of 100 Australians out of the country at any given time, or one of my readers in any of the 70 countries or so where I have an audience, and if you happen to be in Provence for the European Summer, just drop by and have a look at the fantastic collection of vintage Hifi that will be on display and for sale!
I will update this post with an exact address as soon as I get it, but if your French is good enough, then visit Christphe's website: www.hifi-vintage-audiophile.fr
Born in France, well travelled, relocated to Sydney in 1997.