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....
One of the first pair of speakers that really got me thinking and thought were beyond anything I had heard before were the Elipson 4040, made out of plaster and of two separate elements, one sphere for the medium and treble and one column for the subwoofer. It ended up being used as a monitor for the French National Radio, ORTF.
The clip below encapsulates the technical prowesses of Joseph Leon, its founder and chief engineer, as well as his "form follows function" phylosophy.
I was to try to duplicate this concept in the 80s in a much smaller package, intended as an upgrade to the basic loudspeakers supplied with the MIDI systems, all the rage at the time, because of the smaller size of most modern appartments, but also because they incorporated the new CD technology in a compact system.
Born in France, well travelled, relocated to Sydney in 1997.