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CES 2006 Show Report by Cecil Tan
Event:
International CES 2006 at Las Vegas, NV, USA
5th to 8th Jan 2006

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Firstly, I need to apologize for the lateness of this report. To some, it might already be old news. I guess this is the hazard of having a full time job running a hifi store, and still trying to squeeze out some time to do things like this.

Unlike other sites, this is not a full report of the Consumer Electronics Show but rather a more focused and hopefully more detailed article to highlight the new and interesting brands and products that we represent, that were displayed both at the CES and at T.H.E. show next door at the Saint Tropez Hotel.

Audio Note

First up (in alphabetical order) is the Audio Note exhibit. This year, they took 2 rooms – one to demo their mid level stuff and the other for their super expensive top-of-the-line gear. Of interest in the ‘mid fi’ room, is the introduction of 2 new power amplifiers based on the 2A3 and 45 triode tubes respectively.

Housed in the same chassis as the Conqueror, they are estimated to retail at around the US$2500 price point– making them the least expensive SET amps yet from Audio Note.

The ‘high end’ room had Audio Note UK’s own version of the Ongaku as the centerpiece. The rest of the system consisted of the new CDT-Two MKII transport and DAC-5 as the digital front-end, the 3 piece M-10 preamp (with dual mono outboard power supplies bigger than the preamp itself) and a pair of AN-E/SEC with individual outboard crossovers.


Peter Qvortrup’s favourite CD this year seemed to be something from Aphex Twins. The music was extremely loud, fast, dynamic and punchy. It had really ‘kick-ass’ bass – something you’d normally never expect to hear from a single-ended system.

Goes to show that with a well matched high quality system, just about anything is possible!

 

Audiopax

Audiopax surprised many people this year by introducing a new single-ended solid state monoblock amplifier. Yes, you read it right – solid state! Rated at 30 watts per channel in pure Class A, the new Model 55 still has Audiopax’s patented “timbrelock” controls and come finished in classy chrome with lacquered wood sides. The look reminds me of their flagship Model 88s and the sound was eerily similar too! Partnered with their own Model 5 preamp and driving the new Ref.150 speakers – a design that incorporates an adjustable tweeter module for time alignment, the combination produced one of the sweetest-sounding and most musically satisfying sounds of the show.


Eduardo De Lima, Audiopax’s chief designer, explained to me that the Model 55 was produced to suit those who love the Audiopax sound but for one reason or other, cannot (or will not) own tube amps in their system. I personally think it is an excellent idea, as the sound quality is what actually matters, not whether the technology is solid state or tube, push-pull or single-ended.

Latest news just in, apparently I was not the only one who thought that the Audiopax room had outstanding sound. Stereo Times has also awarded it one of the Best Sounds of the Show award. Here is an excerpt from that report that I completely concur with: “The thing about the Audiopax system that really made me pause and think was when I learned that these 92 dB efficient speakers could play so loudly and authoritatively with solid-state monoblock amplifiers rated at only 30 watts. This was a tough lump to swallow, but apparently, it was the case. Using the Audiopax Model 5 LE preamp ($5990), and a pair of Model 55 single-ended monoblocks ($11,990/pr), the sound was not only incredibly dynamic and articulate, it was also highly musical.”

Air Tight

I had the pleasure of meeting Mr. Miura, the Air Tight head honcho, at the show. He was demoing both the ATM-211 monoblocks and the ATM-1 stereo power amp to great effect. Folks, there is just nothing to compare when listening to a high quality fully tube system doing its thing!

The product range seems to be expanding gradually and of great interest is the introduction of their new reference preamp called the ATE-2001. It is a 2-box design with separate power supply, point-to-point wiring throughout, and employs only the highest grade components. The ATE-2001 also features a high quality phono stage with one MM and two MC inputs! The MC inputs include a built-in MC step-up transformer with selected high quality core materials and wires. Impedance of the inputs is also selectable from 3 to 20 ohms.

A true analogue lover’s dream component. In fact, this preamp features so many technological wonders and has so many juicy details just waiting to be revealed, that it deserves an article on its own! However, we’ll leave that for another time...



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