JOLIDA: Jolida introduced a variant of the superb JD-1000A full tube integrated
amplifier at CES. The
remote controlled JD-1000RC features a large window
in the front panel permitting full view of the glowing
From what we know, the
circuitry is the same as the JD-1000 - only the cosmetics and
the addition of the remote make it different. Thatís well and good, because the JD-1000A is an outstanding performer. The JD-1000RC
will not replace, but rather coexist alongside the JD-1000A.
If the convenience of remote
control is enticing and the allure of that heavenly glow are
important attributes, the JD-1000RC may just be your
next amplifier. $2495
NuFORCE: You probably haven't heard of this company, but I can guarantee you will.
The NuForce amplifier technology represents a step in a new
direction - a patented circuit topology like no other. The
NuForce circuit is neither analog nor strictly Class D
digital. Though they share the advantages of digital
amplifiers (small, lightweight chassis and cool operation),
NuForce believes their amplifiers avoid the drawbacks inherent
in those designs.
NuForce amps were just named Editorís Choice by The Absolute
Sound magazine, complimenting rave reviews from around the
World. The most amazing attribute of NuForce amplifiers is their price; just
$1599 for the Model 8 mono and only $2499 for the Reference 9
mono - and that's per pair!
There have been a half-dozen
wildly enthusiastic reviews of the NuForce amplifiers
including The Absolute Sound, Six Moons, Soundstage and Stereo
Times. Check out the NuForce website for
reprints of the full review, then give me a callÖ you'll want
to order a pair!
At the CES NuForce introduced
the IA-7 integrated amplifier and P-8 preamp. Though
small and light, just like the other models, the IA-7
boasts 100 watts per channel (288 watts peak into 8 Ohms).
A full function remote control adds convenience and a memory
holds the previous volume and input settings. There are three line level inputs, one bypass and a 3,5mm jack for your
iPod (or other portable player). The thing is tiny at only
1.75ĒH x 8.5ĒD x 16ĒD and weighs just 6 pounds.
Our IA-7 isnít fully
broken in yet, but initial impressions suggest itís super!
The P-8 preamp features the same input
array found on the integrated, adding a very special digitally
controlled analog volume control. It has a super wide gain and attenuation range (from -95.5dB to +31.5dB in 0.5dB steps) and will work with any amp in any system. Iíve felt for a long time that the world needed a great preamp under
$1500, and we may have just found it. $1095
Take advantage of our in-home audition program!
ESOTERIC: The wide range of digital offerings from Esoteric filled their suite to
overflowing. The active
display featured their very best; the incredible P-01
transport and D-01 mono DACs synched with the G-Os
Master Clock. These extraordinary components represent an all out, cost no object
assault on digital replay. Their development was a slow and
painstaking process that left no stone unturned.
head of Esoteric Japan asked for, and received, carte blanche
access to the Companyís resources for the project. Their goal: design the very best digital reproduction chain on the
planet - no expense was spared. Anyone who has experienced this
system will agree that nothing else comes close. For $50,000 ($25,000 for the P-01 transport and $25,000 for a
pair of the D-01 DACs), youíd expect the best, and
Esoteric delivers it.
Introduced at the show, the P-03 transport
and D-03 DAC fall in line below the exotic P-01 and
D-01 system at $25,000 for the system. The combo is said to
offer 80% of the performance for half the price.
Esoteric debuted the X-01 Limited ($13500),
an upgraded version of the highly regarded X-01 CD/SACD
player. Employing upgraded capacitors and resistors, like
those used in the P-01/D-01 system, Esoteric has enhanced DAC
and analog output stage performance. Internal wiring has also
been upgraded using new proprietary 6N purity wiring. In a joint collaboration with
Mitsubishi Cable Industries and Acro in Japan, Esoteric
developed a wire that they feel significantly improves musical
texture and timbre. Topping off the upgrades, the output connectors have been replaced with
outstanding WBT NextGen
Current X-01 owners will be
happy to know their unit can be upgraded. The cost should be less than $1000. Call us if youíd like us to
schedule a return to the factory for the modifications.
The X-01 is on everyoneís
short list of the truly great digital products on the market.
If the upgrades offer the boost in performance Esoteric
promises, the X-01 Limited should be a killer!
Our unit has just arrived (Iím
all tingly!), so check back in a few weeks for our
HERRON AUDIO: Great components, great sound; to these ears, some of the best at CES. Whether playing LP or CD, the tunes in the Herron suite were just
The company offers the superb
VTSP-2 ($4995) remote controlled tube preamp, an awesome solid
state unit (HL-1 $3495), phono preamp (VTPH-1 $3150) and mono
amplifiers (M1 $6850, pr). Each of the components are
terrific, but itís the VTSP-2 that has received all the
press. Not only does the VTSP-2 sound incredible (as clean and refined
as any preamp I know), but it is practical, flexible and
convenient to use. If your are thinking about a new preamp in this price range, you should
definitely check it out.
For more detail see our past
Feature and and the
Keithís new (prototype)
speakers are really amazing. Unfortunately they arenít available yet, but Iíll be the first in line when they are.
When might that be? Well, letís just say Keith is methodical,
so that coupled with the success of the electronics has kept
him extremely busy. So, the speakers are on the back burner. I just wish heíd turn up the heat a little!
QUAD: Two new electrostatic speakers debuted at CES. As you might imagine,
their introduction created quite a stir at the show.
2805 uses four electrostatic panels, like the 988, and
the 2905 has six panels, the
same number found in the 989. While the new models mimic their brethren in many ways, cosmetics isnít
one of them.
I think weíd all agree, the 988 and 989 arenít the
most attractive speakers on the planet. Not unsightly mind you, but
clearly in need of some freshening to bring then into the new
millennium. So the challenge for Quad was to improve the looks
and the sound. But how does one go about improving upon a legend? Carefully, very
Increasing structural rigidity was a prime focus. From itís introduction, lack of structural integrity was seen as a significant weakness of the ESL-63. A myriad of solutions have appeared over the years, some moderately
effective, but none ideal.
Arcici introduced a stand which supported the speakers (ESL-63) vertically, along the sides, and
that worked well, but had distinct limitations. Quad themselves addressed the issue with the introduction of the ESL-63
USA Monitor, which featured a more substantial frame. That helped, but still
was not perfect. In the spirit of DIY, audiophiles conjured up their own (sometimes very
odd) solutions. I
recall a system where a guy used two-by-fours as braces
between the speaker and the back wall! Ugly, yes, maybe even
gruesome, but it did improve performance.
Fast forward to 2006 and let Quad engineers deal
with the issue. They did, and those solutions are realized in
the new speakers. Steel frames that are stiffer still, a more
substantial base and an innovative brace (which seems particularly effective).
At the rear of the speaker Quad has installed a tensioned,
triangulated strut which runs from the top of the speaker down
to the base. The upgrades have significantly reduced the tendency of the speaker to
rock back and forth.
Further, the heftier pedestal base (which houses the
electronics) adds mass underneath, lowering the center of
Whatís the sonic payoff? I heard significantly
tighter bass, with better control, and a good
deal more kick (the fellows at Quad tell me that in-room
response measures flat to 30Hz!). There was also increased clarity of high frequency tidbits, string
plucks, cymbal shimmer and the like, compared with my
recollections of the 989. These were impressive performance gains, given the fact the speakers had
not yet been spiked (it was early in the show). Unquestionably, proper floor coupling will pay even greater dividends. While weíre on the subject of spikes, the new ones included with the
speakers are really, really nice. Theyíre better described as a
floor coupling system - the term ďspikesĒ doesnít do them
Only the 2905ís were in
action, but I heard enough to know what to expect from the
2805. While I canít
call the improvements mind bending, they would certainly
convince me the cost difference is justifiable. The significantly improved styling alone is (to me anyway) cause for
celebration, but to improve upon a classic is a real
achievement indeed. The 2905ís are $11500, the 2805ís go for $9000.
The already excellent 99 CD player has been
updated. The CDP-2 benefits from software upgrades and
a new transport mechanism. Sound quality has improved, but the price, surprisingly, has remained
the same. Itís a great
machine at only $1350.
Will wonders never cease? Quad
released the 24P, a stand alone phono preamp. The hefty
critter (must have a big power supply?) displays the same form
factor as the rest of their classic line, matching the other
products in that Series. The 24P has a volume control and enough output to drive an amp
directly Ė a one-piece solution for a phono-only rig.
Details were sparse, but I believe it is MM/MC capable. Price
a number of new brands that looked interesting. Over the next
few months weíll be evaluating the best among them and submit
a full report in a future Newsletter.