CES 2005 Key Kim
Finally, the wintry month of January has arrived. Actually it’s one of my favorite months. First of all it’s a new year and my favorite Consumer Electronics Show takes place in Las Vegas. However, this year’s CES 2005 was a lot different than previous shows, usually held under the warm desert sun. First, it rained and then, worse, it snowed! Actually as with every CES, I was so pumped up that this year’s bad weather didn’t bother me much. It’s a CES, who cares! I’m like a little kid in a candy store and I get to see my audiophile buddies and lots of new toys; who could ask for more? Above is our annual ST family photo: Dave Thomas is far left and Mike Wright, Clement Perry, yours truly are to his right. I Must admit that, some warm desert sun wouldn’t have hurt. That said I don't think for a moment that our spirits were dampened or, for that matter, the sound of the music. Isn't that what this is all about?
As luck would have it, the Reimyo room provided quite memorable musical experiences. And this wasn't by mere coincidence; Mr. Kazuo Kuichi has a lot to do with the mastering of XRCDs. And very rarely, if ever, does the opportunity arise that one can hear a designers true intent from the recording studio to the actual playback. This was a rare occasion indeed. The sound, considering the size of this small room, was just remarkable . First surprise for me was how open the music was. There was simply no restriction in bandwidth, dynamics both micro and macro. Again, the music seemed to emanate from beyond the physical location of the loudspeakers. The overall sonic impression bore a very pure un-edgy sound to it. Its organic and palpable midrange kept me in the room much longer than I had any business to considering my time constraints.
The Reimyo CDP-777 is a CD player (above left) is as attractive in looks as it is in sound (review in works). At $ 14,000, it's built like a Sherman tank, and sports upsampling capability from the standard Red Book (14/44) up to 24/176.4 kHz. The also attractive Reimyo PAT-777 300B tube stereo amplifier ($ 22,000 above right) was paired with the Bravo two-way monitors ($3,900) and the B-Bass Sub ($3,900) and the Reimyo CAT-777 preamp ($14,000), and ALS-777 AC power stabilizer ($3,800). All cabling and tuning devices were from Harmonix and completed the set-up.
Rethm/Stealth Audio/Art Audio
Designer Jacob George’s Rethm room was another truly outstanding room. The Second Rethm ($7,500) single Lowther DX4 driver crossover-free loudspeakers produced shockingly pure sound they were driven by an Art Audio PX 25 amplifier ($6,500) single-ended triode, Gill Audio Electronics (Elise DAC and Alana-preamp); all cabling was from none other than Serguei Timachev's Stealth Audio Cables (below with a cache of new cables).
I don't know if you're aware but Serguei is the type of gentleman that always seems upbeat, positive and, how do I say it, intriguing. He stopped Perry and I dead in our tracks and took us, literally by the hand, certain we didn't miss the sound of the Rethm room using his cables. It wasn't 20 minutes earlier that we ran into the very same situation with a different cable manufacturer who dragged us to a room to hear his featured cables. The sound was quite disappointing so you can imagine the looks on our faces when Serguei began talking. Begrudgingly we gave in. Almost immediately, the Rethm sound caught and captivated both Perry and I. The purity of this crossover-less design coupled with the musical experience, for example, when listening to Grieg’s Peer gynt’s Solveig’s and Elly Ameling’s voice, was superbly rendered and in a word "seductive." I felt as though she was in the room. The Rethm loudspeaker is amazingly organic, with a completely non-electronic [read: very high purity quotient] sonic character.
Jadis/Pierre Gabriel Loudspeakers and Silver Cables
Pierre Gabriel Acoustics of Canada was recently named U.S. distributor for Jadis, put on a wonderful sounding room and demo. The sound was holographic and three dimensional and persisted with a luscious midrange as one would expect from all these tubes. All components were Jadis tube electronics; the stunning Jadis JA200, 4 chasis monoblock amplifier ($30K) paired with the Pierre Gabriel Grand Master ($50K) two way floorstanding loudspeakers boasting a 95 dB sensitivity along with the exotic looking JD-1 Pro transport ($25K) paired with JS-1 DAC (15K) and JPS2 ($13K) preamplifier. These speakers, which weigh 1,000lbs a pair, employ a ribbon tweeter, are truly handcrafted in the best sense of the word. Every component is Rolls-Royce quality, custom made from start to finish. All cabling was from Pierre Gabriel Handcrafted Signature Silver cables (RCA Interconnect $3,500/MT and Speaker cables ($15,000/2.5MT). Now I'm not going to bash these guys because based on what I heard and saw with my own eyes was breathtakingly well done. What I don't understand however is how other show rooms presented lesser designed products that were actually more expensive than these loudspeakers. Talk about sticker shock!
Luminance Audio/Virtual Dynamics/Sistrum/Acoustic Systems
Von Schweikert Audio/DarTZeel/EMM Labs/Jena Labs