Several intriguing new products are going to be introduced at this year’s CES.
First are Magnepan’s brand-new 3.7s, which will be shown in two rooms—one in the Venetian (with ARC electronics) and one at T.H.E. Show (with Bryston electronics). I plan to go to both exhibits. Here is some of what Maggie has to say about its new speaker:
“The 3.7 is a 3-way, full-range ribbon speaker with a very ‘fast’ quasi-ribbon midrange and true ribbon tweeter. It is available in new aluminum trim or our traditional wood trims of oak and cherry. Fabric options are off-white, black, and dark gray. The suggested list is $5495 the pair for aluminum and oak—$5895 the pair for dark cherry trim.
“Both the award-winning1.7 and the 3.7 were tested under ‘blind-fold’ conditions by both audiophiles with proven ‘golden ears’ and individuals with no claim to special auditory abilities. This panel of listeners agreed that the new 3.7 does for the 3.6 what the 1.7 did for the 1.6. Although the 3.7 is a combination of advanced technology and careful voicing, rather than making claims about our latest speaker, we invite potential purchasers to bring their own music to their nearest Magnepan dealer and listen for themselves.”
I have it on good authority that the 3.7 is at least as big an improvement over the 3.6 as the 1.7 was over the 1.6. Indeed, a trustworthy third party who has listened to the speaker at some length told me, "It is the best single-panel speaker Maggie has yet produced." I can scarcely wait to find out for myself.
Also being introduced at the Venetian (in Tower Suite 35-209) is Magico’s new Q3 multiway floorstander—an essentially scaled-down version of Magico’s superb Q5, driven (I believe) by Soulution electronics and a special Magico server. Here is what Magico has to say about the Q3:
“The Q3 builds upon the proven concept of the Q platform first developed for the award-winning Q5, which was the first Magico product to take advantage of complete in-house control of all design and build variables. The Q3 continues this tradition.
A true three-way design, the three new woofers are complemented by a 6” Nano-Tec midrange and the MBe-1 Beryllium dome tweeter. Together, these drivers represent Magico’s continued pursuit of developing and implementing the world's finest loudspeaker drivers.
“Being very reminiscent of the larger Q5, one expects that the Q3 will sound like a scaled-down version of that speaker. In many respects this is accurate; the MBe-1 high frequency driver, the continuous curve of our diffraction-minimizing baffle, and the substantial collar-locking isolation foot are among the many things that the two models share. However, because the dimensions and layouts of the boxes differ, as well as the driver behavior and resultant crossover implementation, the Q3 has different critical points and frequencies of resonance. To address this, a modified version of the damping employed in the Q5 is applied in specific areas of need. Varying levels of force are applied to multiple thicknesses of damping materials to affect the elimination of distortion-causing resonance across the entire audioband."
Here is another speaker that I am looking forward to hearing. With 4dB higher sensitivity than the Q5 (90dB as opposed to 86dB) and a considerably less-hefty chassis than the Q5 (albeit one that is identical in shape and build-quality), the Q3 should be easier to drive and to house than Magico's 425-pound masterpiece. Since its driver complement is virtually identical to that of the Q5 (save that it uses three 7" Nano-Tec woofers instead of three 9" ones), I'm guessing that the Q3 will sound virtually the same as the Q5 except, perhaps, in dynamic scale and in the deepest bass, although even there it is likely to be impressive, especially given that it is reputdely $25k or so less expensive than its big brother.
Also of interest are the new award-winning electronics from Naoto Kurosawa of Technical Brain—the TPB Zero EX monoblocks and TBX Zero EX preamp—which, I’m told, will be shown with Morel Fat Lady loudspeakers (in the Morel suite at the Venetian), YG Acoustics Anat III speakers (in the Synergistic Research suite at the Venetian, along with Synergistic’s fabulous Galileo cable and interconnect), and TAD loudspeakers (I’m not sure where or which room).
Speaking of YG, the company will be introducing a new and substantially improved line of loudspeakers at CES. The Anat III Professional ($111k)l, which Ted Denny will be showing in the Synergistic suite and YG itself will be showing in the GTT Audio room is one; the other two are the Anat Studio III ($74k) and the Kipod Studio II ($42k). All of the speakers make use of three new technologies YG has developed. The first is what YG calls "BilletCore," meaning that the driver diaphragms are milled and machined in house from aircraft-grade aluminum to maximize stiffness and correct cone geometry (see illustration above). The second is what YG calls "ForgedCore," which refers to the new YG tweeters, whose motors are now forged in-house, resulting in half the tweeter distortion of the Anat II. And the third is what YG calls "ToroAir," which refers to YG's new air-core toroidal coils which are wound entirely in-house. The net result of these improvements is said to be a considerable measurable overall reduction in distortion. I was unaware of this development when I first posted this blog, but the new YG speakers are bound to make an exciting show that much more exciting--and competitive.
A new version of one of my favorite turntables—the AAS Gabriel/Da Vinci Audio Mk II turntable with the superb Da Vinci Grand Reference Grandezza transcription tonearm and Da Vinci’s Grand Reference Grandezza cartridge (one of my references)—will be introduced at CES 2011 in Suite 35-307, shown with Lamm electronics (including the fabulous ML3 monoblock amps) and Wilson Audio Alexandria X2 (I would imagine the sound here will be breathtaking). Also new (to me, at least) are the ultra-expensive Constellation electronics from the makers of the Continuum turntable, and PERFECT8’s “The Point” loudspeaker—which combines an air-motion transformer with two magnesium cones and a separate subwoofer in gorgeous glass enclosures. MBL will be introducing its new “Corona” line of electronics—a CD player, preamp, amp, and integrated amp—which I imagine, based on previous experience with MBL electronics, will be very good and, in this case, more affordable than some previous MBL gear. (Prices are said to range from about $7800 to about $10,000.)
I just learned that Boulder will be introducing a new top-line monoblock at this year's CES, the 3050, in Venetian Suite 34-203. Boulder will also be showing its 1008 phonostage. I don't know what analog front end will be used but I believe the speakers are from JMLabs.
I’m sure there will be loads of other interesting and surprising things in Vegas—there always are. Of course I will report in detail on the ones I hear.