• CES 2009 Notes: Part I

    CES 2009 has been over for a couple days now and I've had some time to digest everything I saw in Vegas this year. Computer based playback has finally overcome many of the traditional high-end audio hurdles. Even the old school audiophiles used music servers in their suites at the Venetian. The manufacturers without music servers usually had a new CD player to showcase and didn't want to send mixed signals by using a computer based source. USB was the most popular interface but there was no shortage of S/PDIF, AES, FireWire, and even Ethernet. Many operating systems were in use including Windows XP, Windows Vista, OS X, and different versions of Linux. Plus, there was an important presence by Sonic Studio's Amarra software / hardware package...

    Daniel Weiss and Winston Ma are two prominent high end personalities who both achieved really nice sound at CES. Daniel used his very highly reviewed Minerva FireWire DAC with Amarra and Winston used the complete Amarra software and Sonic Studio hardware solution. Winston took it to another level by using DDP images of his FIM albums. These files came directly from his mastering engineer and had never been saved on optical media. Thus, there were no worries about ripping applications and technologies because the music was directly from the mastering facility sent to him via hard drive. In terms of music servers the talk around the show was definitely about Sonic Studio and its Amarra solution.

    When it comes to hardware the Magico M5 and V2 speakers pleased almost everyone I know. In fact these speakers not only pleased most people they were the best speakers many people have ever heard. I include myself in that group of people show haven't heard anything better. Ever. In my post from December 9, 2008 I predicted a new pair of Magico speakers would win best of show at CES. The unnamed speakers were the Magico M5s which had yet to be released to the public. I spent quite some time at Magico back in December listening to the M5 speakers and was absolutely stunned by their performance in the Magico listening room. At CES Magico had some difficult room conditions to work with but still managed to pull off an amazing performance with both the V2 and M5 loudspeakers. To be totally honest I think Magico just raised the bar and set a new paradigm in high-end audio loudspeaker design and sound quality.

    Throughout the show I brought around my tiny MinoHD video camera and shot some 720p HD video of some of the suites at CES and T.H.E. Show. For now here is a video from the McIntosh suite. I must admit McIntosh produces some very good looking components and they pull me into the McIntosh suites at every single show.

    Much more to come from Computer Audiophile!




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