Sometimes it’s worth the extra effort to venture off-site. In this instance, at the Mirage Hotel, MBL of Germany debuted it's entry level Corona series. The six component line will ultimately replace the venerable Classic series but Corona is no rehash. A ground-up design, the integrated amp and power amps feature MBL's own take on Class D–a 300Wpc, hybrid design with an all analog power supply. Build quality is luscious with a selection of trim options for the smooth aluminum casework–panels that are absolutely free of any external screws or bolts. And in order to increase isolation, critical circuitry is suspended on an internal steel sub-chassis. Later this year the line will add a tuner and monoblock amps. Price: C11 preamplifier, $7600; C21 amp, $8000; C51 integrated, $9700; C31 CD player, $8000.
The last thing I listened to before departing the Venetian was complete happenstance. I was planning on giving Arturo Manzano of Axiss Audio a quick hello and enjoying the superb Soulution/Magico Q5 setup which I did. But when he pulled me aside to get some feedback regarding a pair of odd looking, desktop speakers plugged into his Mac I was more than a little skeptical. After the Magicos? Huh? Well everybody, these teeny ovoid, powered USB speakers knocked me out. Named Olasonic, they’ve been designed and built in Japan by Towa. Sonically they were dynamic, and full bodied and naturalistic rather than tizzy and hyped. And when Manzano cued up some Sinatra via iTunes I was smitten. He then explained the best part–that these little guys were drawing power for their internal 10W amps strictly via the USB (nothing to plug into the wall, period). No wall warts, power cords, just the included USB cable. How much Arturo? $250, $300? The answer $125/pr. I’m in! axissaudio.com