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CES 2017 Cable Company Show Report

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Customer email newsletter dated: January 16, 2017.


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1/16/17
CES 2017 Cable Company Show Report
The first audio show of the year is the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas every first week in January. There is plenty of main stream and audiophile show coverage available, so in our annual CES Report we focus on new products that are of interest to The Cable Company and our customers, especially items that may otherwise be overlooked in the audiophile press.
New Reveal cable line from High Fidelity Cables.

We had received in December a pre-production sample of the first of the new “Reveal” range of affordable cables from High Fidelity Cables. This Texas-based manufacturer incorporates “Magnetic Conduction” technology into all of their designs. This has proven very effective from a performance perspective, but the company has struggled to also make their cables affordable. They seem to have had experienced a design breakthrough, however, as we were truly bowled over by the Reveal interconnects we tried. At CES they showed samples of what will become a full line of sub-$1k cables: both RCA and XLR interconnects and digital cables, speaker cables, and what looks to be a terrific AC cable design which we are told exceeds the performance of their previous entry level power cord, the $2k+ CT-1, and nearly matches the performance of their excellent $4400 CT-1 Enhanced design.

Very excited to get these into the Library. We have some already and expect to have all available by the end of February. Watch this space!
 
Furutech NCF Connectors

Furutech has completed the range of their new top-line NCF connectors for AC applications. Basically NCF is about generating negative ions to eliminate static interference with AC conduction. They now offer all of the AC parts from the wall outlets to IEC inlets on component chassis in an NCF version, including, of course, the AC plugs and IEC connectors for the cables.

We have a nice package price available for their NCF version wall outlets + mounting plates + outlet cover.
Furutech Destat III

Not a new product, but a nice and effective demo of the latest Destat III ($390). Very effective control of static wherever it occurs: LP’s, CD’s, Disc Transports, etc.
Audience AC cable upgrades and show specials.
Audience is one of the cable manufacturers who have adopted Furutech's costly NCF power cord connectors for their top end products, in this case the new Au24SX PowerChords. Unusually for Audience, which is noteworthy for the relatively thin size and flexibility of most of their cables, the Au24SX is almost as wide as the plugs, though still very flexible. Au24SX comes in a high current 10 gauge version ($4600/6ft) and also in a 13 gauge Medium Power version ($3500/6ft). Available to try at home through our Cable Library.

The Furutech NCF may be Audience's favorite plug for top level performance, but it is pretty costly, so for the rest of their power cords they are offering the high value Cardas connectors (in their "SE" versions) and also now, as a somewhat higher cost option for each model of their PowerChords other than the top Au24SX, a rhodium-plated proprietary plug (in their "SEi" versions).

As usual we grabbed as much in the way of Show Samples as possible. Visit our Specials Page to view the Show Sample list.
New Gold and Rhodium "PowerPhase" outlets from Voodoo Cables

One of our highest value lines for audiophile parts and adapters, Voodoo Cables has released two new high end "PowerPhase" Duplex outlets. Available in Gold, or Rhodium-plate, over tellurium copper and coming with a black outlet cover included, these look to be a high end bargain at $99 in Gold or $129 in Rhodium.

Shunyata Research's new topline Hydra Triton V3 and
Sigma Series Interconnects and Speaker Cables
The pyramid-shaped Denali line conditioners ($3495-$4995) have been a huge success for Shunyata. But performance can be a two edged sword when it forces you back to the drawing board to upgrade your statement products! Hence the need for an upgrade for Shunyata's top Triton filter, now available as the Hydra Triton V3 ($8995).

Shunyata also was showing off preproduction versions of new top-line Sigma Series interconnects (starting at $4k) and speaker cables (starting at $7500) which should be available in the first half of 2017. These new designs will incorporate a whole series of new technologies from the mind of Caelin Gabriel.
 
Powercell 8’s on the way from Synergistic Research
Following the successful launch of the new Powercell 12 UEF ($4495-$5995) line conditioners in mid-2016, Synergistic Research has a scaled down and more affordable 8 outlet Powercell on the way ranging from $1995 to $2995 depending on the user’s choice of Duplex Outlets, and the Power Cable that runs to the wall. We will be evaluating in house, hopefully this month, and adding to the Library at the earliest opportunity!
New Line Stage and Headphone Amp from Rogue Audio
Rogue Audio’s new RH-5 ($2495) may be the most flexible headphone oriented preamp available. Offering all manner of headphone outputs, preamp out flexibility, and even an optional phono board (+$400). This unit showed off the attributes of the accompanying HIFI-Man headphones very well.

Rogue also showed off there new RP7 linestage-only preamp ($4995), a true balanced step up from their well-designed RP5 model.
New Integrated Amp from Rogers High Fidelity
Rogers High Fidelity is another of our favorite electronics manufacturers, but unfortunately (for many of us) their amps start at $8k and go up from there...until now! Rogers launched a new model called 65V-1, which, like the rest of their line is built like a tank, and like a tank is made with milspec components assembled with point to point wiring. This 25 watt per channel amp can run EL-34 or KT-88 tubes, with an effective auto biasing circuit, and operates in either triode or ultralinear modes.

Like the top line model 34S-1 ($20000), an Apple device can connect by Bluetooth to provide a very sophisticated remote control.

And like all Rogers electronics, this new $3995 (!) integrated amp comes with a lifetime transferrable warranty.

Nicely done! Another to get into our sound rooms.
New Headphones and Line Conditioner from Audioquest
AudioQuest has evolved their first headphone, the Nighthawk, into two new designs for 2017: the open back NightHawk Carbon and the closed back NIghtOwl Carbon. (In this case “Carbon” is a color, not a material.) These are already headed into our High End Headphone Library, and at $699 for each design will set a high bar.

AQ also showed off the new Niagara 5000 line conditioner ($3995), promising 90% of the performance of the outstanding Niagara 7000 ($7995) for half the price. A bonus is that at a much lighter weight we will be able to offer the Niagara 5000 for in-home evaluations through The Cable Library. At it’s near 100 lb shipping weight this just was not practical for the Niagara 7000 in most cases.

Something you are bound to hear about: while in the AQ room that first day of the show I heard that only that morning Tidal had begun actually streaming MQA -encoded content, while at mid day two other music streaming services and 2 more major record labels had promised to begin offering high resolution content later in 2017. Very good news for the audio community and anyone else that gives a hoot about quality!
In Ear Planar Speakers from Audeze

Audeze was showing off two models of the first planar-based in-ear monitors for Apple i-devices, the i-Sine 10 ($399) and i-Sine 20 ($599). These come with a Lightning cable incorporating a 24 bit inline DAC/amp including a 10 band equalizer for optional use or with presets.
MOFI Turntables, Cartridges, and Phono Stages
We have been watching with interest the development of a MOFI line of analog components, which at CES appeared to be just about ready for prime time. Having assembled a rather nice team of collaborators including Allen Perkins (Spiral Groove) for turntable and tonearm design, Tim Deparavacini (EAR/Yoshino) for phono preamp design, and Mike Latvis (Harmonic Resolution Systems) for resonance control considerations, these new USA built products are looking like a $999 turntable/tonearm combination, and a more evolved “Ultra” version of same for $1799. Nice package offers including the new MOFI-branded MM cartridges from Japan will make these an even higher value proposition.

There are also two versions of their Tim Deparavacini co-designed, USA made, MM/MC phono pre-preamps: the $249 StudioPhono includes a mono mode and subsonic filter, while the $499 UltraPhono adds variable loading and a Class A headphone amp.
Chord Poly Music Streamer for the Mojo
Chord Electronics from England was showing off their upcoming “Poly” music streamer (hopefully available Spring 2017), an add-on module for their wildly successful Mojo ($529) portable headphone DAC/amp, which will eliminate the need for a wired link between your smartphone and the Mojo, while acting as a Wi-Fi and Bluetooth hub to access music in a number of ways including streaming over Wi-Fi, network storage devices (NAS) and collections stored on SD cards. Very cool!
New Electronics coming from PS Audio
PS Audio has a number of projects in the works including a whole new range of affordable (~$1500 each) electronics line called “Stellar” consisting of a DAC/preamp combination, both a stereo and mono amps, and probably even a companion AC regenerator at some point. Also under development behind the scenes are a new BHK phono stage, and maybe even, together with Arnie Nudell of Infinity and Genesis fame, some new loudspeakers!

Of more immediate interest, PS hopes to clear the pre-order backlog for their new SACD-decoding “Memory Player” disc transport ($5995 with great trade in offers available) by the first half of February.
WOW: the Avantgarde Zero TA Speakers
Finally here is where this writer gives into his own audiophile aspirations to digress from strict affordability and/or the system upgrade products which other show writers will overlook, into the realm of really, really good loudspeakers. Straight up: the Avantgarde Zero is remarkable, the best full range speaker I have heard for under $30k or so.

This design was originally released 2 years ago as a powered speaker with built in D/A conversion for just under $20k. They sounded great and garnered rave reviews including one from Jonathan Valin in TAS who usually only writes about 6 figure speaker systems, but like many of our readers, I already have a preamp and amp and cables and really prefer analog anyway, so this “smart speaker” wasn’t really for me.

Confirming that I was not alone, Avantgarde has now released the Zero TA, still with active on board 12" subwoofers, but in the new model the powered bass is combined with conventionally driven horn midrange and tweeter, all in a sweet looking package in white or black finish for $15,600/pr.

For now, I just conclude this report with a big WOW, and if more than a few of you are interested in checking these speakers out in New Hope PA, we would consider adding these speakers to the shopping list for one of our sound rooms. Let us know!

To read more here is a link to view their fact sheet pdf.
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