CES 2016 had many new products that were being introduced in the audio world. There were many lifestyle products in the exhibits that enthusiasts will come to appreciate. There seemed to be an emphasis on bluetooth and wireless devices that included headphones, music servers and small speakers. Interestingly enough, personal audio is drawing attention from more two channel high end manufacturers.
In the next few weeks we will get all the coverage reports out with a bundle of new and exciting products. CES this year for me was like a kid being in a candy store. Prices ranged from the $99 Audioquest digital to analogue converters designed by the legendary Gordon Rankin to the $13,500 DAVE converter from Chord that included a reference quality headphone amplifier and digital preamplifier.
Sennheiser and Hifiman were making statements this year with their electrostatic headphone systems. The Orpheus priced at $55,000 had a built in amplifier with an Italian Marble base surrounded with tube amplification. The Orpheus system also included a Sabre 9018 built in Dac. Both systems sounded excellent.
The Hifiman Shangri-La featured a 300B tube amplifier driving the electrostatic headphone that was making terrific music. The sound was clear and transparent with excellent bass definition. The system was still in prototype form and we are looking forward to more information in the upcoming weeks on this outstanding system. No price has been established for this system.
Chord’s DAVE Digital to Analogue converter designed by Rob Watts was being shown with the Audeze LCD 4. The sound was reference quality. Chord had been on a roll. The proprietary DAVE is a digital preamplifier,DAC and headphone amplifier that is handmade in Kent,England. It includes a new LX75 version of the Spartan FPGA. It has 1o times the capacity of its predecessor. There is more detailed information on the Chord website http://www.chordelectronics.co.uk/products-info.asp?id=98.
The $4000 Audeze LCD 4 sounded fantastic being driven by the $13,500 Chord DAVE. The sound stage was wider and deeper with excellent bass definition. The DAVE amplifier section and DAC got the most out of the LCD4. The total system cost would be $17,500 for enthusiasts looking for the ultimate in sound reproduction.
Lee Shelly lifestyle photographer who specializes in high end audio products was admiring the Chord $599 Mojo, which is taking the headphone community by storm. The portable Dac and headphone amp is trickled down from the wildly successful Chord Hugo and offers about 90 percent of the sound at 4 times less the cost. EDD Harris from Chord looks on and Lee was heavily involved with the music. The Audeze Sine $499 planar headphone was making the music flow and an excellent combination for the Mojo.
Nordost industry legend Joe Reynolds was showing some interesting new cable design for headphones. Following on the successful Heimdall series, Nordost was introducing the Blue Heaven Headphone cable priced attractively at $399. The Audeze,MrSpeakers,Oppo,Hifiman and most other reference headphones are available in the Blue Heaven cable series.. The Blue Heaven will be offered in a variety of different configurations both single ended and balanced. Listening to the Blue Heaven with the Audeze LCD 2 was making wonderful and grain free music come to life.
Nordost’s beautiful Meredith Gabor showcasing the LCD 2 with the $399 Blue Heaven Cable.
Audeze continues to break boundaries with their offerings. In 2009 when I reviewed the original LCD2 I proclaimed they were the company for others to benchmark. The company continues to be the driving force in product designs. The new Sine $499 planar offering is one of the most comfortable designs in the Audeze lineup. Designed by BMW Motor Works and available with a lightning cable or a single ended 3.5mm termination . The Sine was transparent and sounded superb. The product is small =and is a closed back design making it an excellent choice for portable users.
Drew Baird from Moon Audio http://www.moon-audio.com listening to Sine while Lee Shelly is talking to Sankar about how excellent the sound was from this exciting new headphone. Stay Tuned for more coverage.
More CES Coverage Next Week including Questyle,Pass,Manley and Cary.