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Positive Feedback ISSUE 11
january/february 2004


2004 CES "blur" of a show... Part 2 of many to come!
by Dave and Carol Clark

So why the "blur" you ask? Simply put we visited so many rooms, took so many pictures, talked to so many people, that by the end of the show, we hardly remember who showed with who and what sounded like what! Fortunately, Carol wrote copious notes of the 400 plus images I took, allowing us a decent record of the events. But the problem is, we really had little chance to sit down and give many of the rooms a good listen—walk in, take some images, take notes, say hello, talk a bit of business, sit for a brief listen, and on to the next room. What we did hear though, was that for the most part the vast majority of exhibitors had things sounding quite good.

Sure there were rooms where we looked at each other and thought, "What were they thinking?!" But this was by far the exception. More often, than not, the issue was either too much bass, or music being played at too high a volume—both easily corrected and neither one to cause us to dismiss a room for poor sound. True, we did hear a few rooms using boring drum tracks or garage-door-banging hits to show-off the system, neither of which made us smile, but only wince in pain at the levels they felt was needed to drive people away. When will exhibitors learn that good music—in general terms—is what is needed, but not at ear bleeding volumes that result in audible distortion?

In looking back at this, our ninth year at CES, Carol and I came away with mixed feelings. This was by far one of the better shows of recent years in terms of who and what was on display, but for us, one of the least enjoyable. We found ourselves much too often, not having the time to sit and listen in enough of the more "interesting" rooms, being able to talk to the people who have supported PFO for the past year and a half at any length, nor spending time with friends or getting a scoop on gear to review. Oh, well, perhaps next year!

Anyhow, back to the show...

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The BAT, Avantgarde (Super Duos with double woofer towers), Cardas, Running Springs' room sounded very fine indeed. I have never been impressed with the Avantgarde speakers before—usually used in too small of a room to integrate the drivers—but this year they had it working on all horns, er... cylinders. Very nice indeed.

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Jim Smith with the Super Duos.

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Don Babineau of Running Springs with his PLC making the AC run with pure electricity!

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The Cardas room had, well, plenty of Cardas items to see.

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The Wavelength Audio room with Cain and Cain speakers sounded nice too. Very open with little if any of that dreaded Lowther "sounds-like-small-paper-cone-driver" character.

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Oh so lovely Signature 45 stereo amplifier.

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Cosecant ($3500) digital decoder uses only a USB connection to your digital source (computer that is!), allowing one to get the most from any downloaded digital feed as shown below. As Gordon tells it, "The Cosecant is a zero type DAC in that it does not have any math (my stick) between the source and the output. Therefore it is a multibit DAC without any up/oversampling or digital (or analog) filtering. We retain the original format of the output be it 44.1K/16 or others by telling iTunes (or other software as it is not hardware/software dependent) to use AIFF format for importing, thereby preserving the original format be it from disk or downloaded."

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Mr. Wavelength, Gordon Rankin. About as no nonsense as one can get and still be making cool stuff!

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A bevy of audio from Wavelength. Sounding Good!

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J10 and Marcus Thompson of ASC catching some LV rays.

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The Viva, Silent Source, and Walker room was dandy. Big speakers and big amps, oh my!

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Carol and Bryan getting the scoop on Furutech's extensive line of "whatever you need for your system" we got!

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Frank Yoo of Furutech.

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Talon speakers and Goldmund in the Sound Applications room.

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Jim Weil of Sound Applications.

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Goldmund electronics.

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Jacob George of Rethm. The only room with this setup.

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OS Services' Audion Golden Dream Level 6 300B PSE 25 watt monoblocks ($15,995) with cabling from Stealth.

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Audion Sterling EL34 Mk 2 12wpc stereo amplifier ($2125) and the 3rd Rethm single-driver floorstander $3500/pair and more Stealth cabling.

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The newest from Rethm - the 4th at $2500 a pair!

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