Day two at CES 2011 was full of great products, impressive sound, and great music. New products from Auraliti based on solid engineering and backed by objective measurements are on the way. I was very impressed by the sound achieved in the Bryston / Thiel suite as well as the Magnepan / Brston suite. Plus the relatively low price tag of the systems in each room was equally impressive. In the TAD suite Bill Schnee of Bravura Records presented a handful of his 24/192 live to two-track recordings. The music was great as was Bill's commentary and sense of humor.
At the Flamingo hotel I spent a considerable amount of time talking to Demian Martin and Ray Burnham of Auraliti, while listening through the new L1000 linux based player and Berkeley Audio Design Alpha DAC. The Auraliti PK100 remains in the product line as the entry level low price / high performance player. The L1000 is a significant upgrade offering digital output only, a plethora of power supply upgrades, and a highly optimized AES/EBU digital interface. The price of the L1000 is significantly more than the PK100 and will be sold through a dealer network. Don't quote me on this - I believe the price is $3,000. Equally as exciting is Auraliti's USB based player. The unit has a dedicated internal USB PCI card with my favorite feature of the show thus far, a toggle switch to disable the USB bus power from being sent to an external USB DAC (see photo). As I was walking out the door Demian and Ray mentioned another new product announcement. SATA and fan filters for computers. These little "components" connect inline between a SATA hard drive and the SATA cable and between a motherboard and fan respectively. Both products reduce noise sent back into the computer's motherboard. Even better Auraliti offered objective measurements showing the benefits of the SATA filter on a standard spinning hard drive and a solid state hard drive. It was refreshing to see solid engineering backed by objective measurements.
Bryston / Thiel
The most impressive sound of the day came from two different suites both powered by Bryston electronics. The Bryston / Thiel system produced astounding depth with nearly all recordings. The sound appeared a bit too laid back or over damped at first. Upon further listening I believe this room was setup very well in contrast to many rooms with extremely bright, in-your-face, bull horn sound with music bouncing off every flat surface in sight. The more I listened the more I liked the Bryston / Thiel sound.
Bryston / Magnepan
The Bryston / Magnepan suite was even more impressive. The new Magnepan 3.7 loudspeakers were spectacular in this system. Plenty of bottom end and crystal clear sound over the entire supported frequency response. I haven't heard a pair of "old" 3.6s in far too long to compare the sound with the new 3.7s. I encourage all CA readers to hear a demonstration of the new 3.7s. The price to performance ratio is off the charts. The 3.7s start at $5500 for the pair and go up from there depending on finish.
TAD / Bravura Records
In the TAD suite back at the Venetian Bill Schnee gave a neat presentation and played several selections from his upcoming 24/192 Bravura Records releases. These tracks sounded wonderful through a complete TAD system from electronics to speakers. This year Andrew Jones of TAD began using a new all solid state MacBook Air and interfacing it with the new TAD preamp/DAC via an asynchronous USB input supporting up to 24/192. In addition to playing 24/192 material Bill Schnee offered some great commentary. My favorite topic Bill touched on was reviewers and how can they possibly claim to know if a component sounds more "real" or like the original performance if they were not present during the recording. Fortunately Bill has been involved in some incredible recordings and really knows how his albums should sound.