What was “Biggest Surprise” at CES 2009? TAS Editors/Reviewers weigh in with their selections. For full audio coverage of CES 2009, see the upcoming issue of "The Absolute Sound."
ROBERT HARLEY: After more than 30 years of building value-oriented loudspeakers, Richard Vandersteen’s Model 7 enters the upper-end of the market not with just a bigger box and more drivers, but with innovative new technology.
JONATHAN VALIN: The CES 2009 itself, which was, once again, the best-sounding hi-fi show I’ve ever attended—and this in the worst economic times since the Great Depression. Who’d’ve thunk it? My hat is off to the high end. I just hope that you’ll be rewarded for what you’ve accomplished.
NEIL GADER: The Mini-Magnapan “desktop” speaker with a dipole passive don’t-call-me-a-subwoofer subwoofer. Remarkable.
ALAN TAFFEL: The Magnepan “Mystery” speaker. Shockingly small for a Maggie. The new model will open many doors for Magnepan, especially combined with the equally surprising, stylish new coffee-table sized woofer.
CHRIS MARTENS: The explosive proliferation of genuinely superb in-ear headphones at sane prices. Examples: NuForce NE-7Ms and NE-8s (both under $70), Shure SE115s ($120), Beats Tours ($150), and Monster Turbines ($150)
DICK OLSHER: Magnepan’s new “Mini” speaker. Essentially a planar “point source” radiator, aided by a woofer, that images like a mini-monitor.
STEVEN STONE: How upbeat the show was. Doom and gloom haven’t got a chance in the face of beautifully rendered music.
JIM HANNON: How good high-resolution digital multichannel can sound. Ray Kimber’s system (EMM Labs front-end, Pass 350.5, and four TAD Reference One speakers) playing DSD IsoMike recordings brought the performance into the room.