You will probably agree that I have milked the CES franchise for a bit too long as the CES 2013 is in a couple of days...
So I thought I would recap here what speakers I really liked or discovered at the Show. I am not going this year, as I am going for a short trip to France to see my family and take care of my children that are or will be in Paris for their studies on an exchange from their Australian Universities.
Hopefully, I will have some time (between Cotes-du-Rhone and Camembert...) to research there some more French vintage products and I can entertain you again "on topic!
And to stay on my favourite brand, here is a shot of the new Thiel speakers on the Bryston stand (ah,ah, you didn't see this one coming, did you?).
The combination of Bryston amplification, 24/192 multichannel live recordings from iTrax and matching Thiel monitors and subwoofers ended up being one of the most sensational demos at the Show.
We are all familiar with the beautiful Nordic sound of Electrocompaniet electronics.
They evemn make their own version of the OPPO player.
But what is less known is their recent foray into loudspeaker design.
These fine little monsters are a very capable team and are built as two separate cabinets, my favourite arrangement, just in case you have not noticed already...
Very good demo and great conversation with the Director all the way from Scandinavia, who happens to know my ex-distributor in Norway, Martin Viktorin - small world!
Kondo + Audio Note Japan - Reincarnation of an ancient art
Beautiful to look at, beautiful to listen to, beautiful to talk about...
It is the nirvana for a lot of audiophiles in Japan, and for some of us, mere mortals, elsewhere in the World as well.
The closest system I have heard from the Pierre Riffaud/Tosca/Ocelia combo (punt intended...) I listened to at Point Musiques in Paris over my last trip.
It is craftmanship of the highest order, as well as technically very sound and painstakingly researched and executed.
A few kilograms of finesse in a world of brutes - better than chocolate? You tell me.
Nothing to do with mushrooms, although these shapes...
Morel is an Israeli company more famous for their drivers (I am about to trial one of their tweeters...) than for their speakers, but hopefully this will change as these beautifully crafted products sound as good as they look. Stay tuned!
REGA - Another first for BMRs in High End speakers
First spotted in Paris on an unofficial release, these speakers are taking advantage of the wide bandwidth of a 4.5" BMR driver to work from 300Hz to 6kHz. Rega has engineered a new tweeter just for the purpose to improve the high end over the BMRs that can go up to 22kHz, but tend to have some ringing over 5kHz.
In the bass, they use two drivers of different sizes in separate enclosures for a smooth and extended bass response. Again the BMRs have trouble getting the right level below 120Hz, hence the separate subwoofer arrangement.
Copmared to Naim, who decided to reengineer the BMR drivers, REGA uses a standard unit and spent the money on a complex filter and beautiful cabinet. And BTW, it sounds great as well!
Waterfall Audio + Tributaries cables
Waterfall Audio have a very good business in the US of A, thanks to a good distributor who pushes the WAF factor into the CEDIA type market and also gets a lot of press in lifestyle and decoration magazines.
They teamed up with Tributaries, a relatively new range of high-end cables, where my friend Helma Paulson (ex Export Manager for Audioacess and Harman Kardon) is doing a very good sales job (she could sell ice to Eskimos, really...) and she almost convinced me that these cables were actually make a difference! Maybe I should ask for some samples....
Audiolineaire, Focal and other French ambassadors
Audiolineaire were present with their leathered speakers (unfortunately my photos don't do them justice...so, I won't post any) Focal were hiding in a private suite at the Mirage and couldn't find them (mind you it was lunch time whenI got there, so maybe that's where they were hiding...) and Cabasse were absent but for their Japanese distributor who distributes Devialet in the US - go figure!
In the New Year, I will give you a (short...) report on T.H.E. Show which is held concurrently at the Flamingos.
In the meantime, I thank all of you that ventured to this site, some more than once - I love Google Analytics - and I wish you a very Happy New Year and many happy returns in 2013.
I will try my best to continue to entertain and inform you. See you in January!
I have not had a chance to review this popular system in details so far, as I could not find one to photograph.
Thanks to the power of the Internet, I have now found this system scattered between Belgium and Switzerland, and made another discovery - more on this later...
I had approached my good client Pierre Breart at Audioconseil in Uccle, the posh suburb of Brussels, where he has been operating for quite some time, bringing the pleasure of good music reproduction to a lucky and loyal clientele. He was my second best dealer, and share with me a passion for good food and wine, obviously sprinkled with good music!
I was hoping he would be able to access some of my products from of his past clients...and he found something of a rarity, a lone exemplar of an ACTIVE central subwoofer.
My guess is that we would have designed this just for him, as I do not recall selling many.
By co-incidence, a reader in Switzerland got in touch with me to find out more about a pair of ACTIVE SATs! Lucky day...
The SATs in their active version were invented for my German distributor, and ended up being quite a success there, and also in Norway, where my distributor, Martin Viktorin, ended up selling over a hundred pairs to the National Norvegian Radio.
As a further twist in the story, the amplifier was designed by a very good and astute dealer we had in Strasbourg.
His original design sounded sublime, but didn't pass the German inspection, as it was internally wired as a valve amplifier would be - so, in short, it looked quite messy inside, but the resulting sound was outstanding, primarily because of the perfect grounding of the circuit, reducing noise floor and IMD distortion to an absolute minimum. Unfortunately, I have no photos left of this product, and would very much like to find one pair to review.
So, I had to fight with my dealer, to get him to change his design to be more professionally made - at least on the surface...
Being the purist he was, he refused, and reluctantly gave me the circuit diagram for me to produce an "industrial" version myself - here is the result:
Very neat and tidy, easy to build, install and service, but auditively a shadow of the original...
Don't get me wrong, it still work extremely well and I quote my contact in Switzerland here:
"although I didn't position the speakers too precisely, voices were nailed spot in
the middle of the speakers - amazing! With certain music the speakers actually
did what I love about a good speaker: disappeared! There was music - not sound!"
And these speakers are in fairly bad condition, having their foam suspension starting to desintegrate and fed but an iMac...
Now, let's have a look at the subwoofer.
This is actually one sample equipped with the best driver we ever used a double coil Cabasse 21 cm, (single coil in this active version, and a black membrane), specially made for us, and very expensive. It is the ancestor of what is used in the Sphere now, and it works wonders - specially when only using the lower two octaves (30-120Hz).
Using the driver downfiring against a known surface and a fixed distance gives a very linear bass response indeed (+/- 1db over that range)
Using an integrated amplifier helps adjust the levels betweem satelites and subwoofer. The very low cut off frequency ensures that it is difficult to hear the position of the subwoofer.
This active TRITON system would make a very good sub/rear channels add-on to the front channels of a 5.1 home theater system. I might soon be able to report on the results...
Below are a few photos of this unique product, courtesy of Audioconseil
Finally some more images of the SATs active, courtesy of my reader in Switzerland:
I have finally had a chance to find a review of this system in its passive version in "La Revue du Son".
It seems like there is a previous review of the active version. I would be grateful if somebody could find a copy for me. Merci d'avance.
You will have to sharpen your French (and your eyes...as the scan is not very good...) but at least everybody will be able to read the measurement results.
To be noted are the very linear impedance and phase curves, the very good transient response and a very flat amplitude response both on axis and at 30deg
Our last post on Andre Charlin has lead me to reconnect with Josef Svalander.
I had a suspicion we knew each other, and getting in touch with him via email confirmed the story!
Josef and a few of his Scandinavian mates, all Hi Fi journalists at the time, actually DROVE to Paris for the HiFi show. That's dedication!.
Josef and I have different recollection of our first meeting and he might be right: Josef believes we first met at the Frankfurt Fair.
We made friends, had them for dinner at our place, and they presented us with a beautiful crystal vase, (which tends to confirm we had met before...) that actually survived the trip to Australia!
Josef ended up trying to market our products in Sweden and still have a pair that his daughter uses as computer speakers...Such is life!
We had more success in Norway with our friend Martin Viktorin now at Digital Audio Martin Viktorin, who flogged dozens of them to the Norway National Radio in their powered version.
Born in France, well travelled, relocated to Sydney in 1997.