The last day at CES is often a quiet day, and this year was no exception. Nevertheless, that gives us time to get a lot done in a relatively short day, because there are so few people attending the show.
Metronome’s hugely revised Kalista reference player is now complete, with the launch of the new Kalista Dream player. Based as before on the excellent Philips CDM12 Pro CD transport, the top-loading player can be supplied in stainless steel, chrome, gold, or whatever you finish you require, with two thicknesses of contrasting methacrylate. The transport mechanism includes a separate power supply and can either be supplied with its own isolation platform or works stacked with the Kalista Dream DAC’s full isolation system in its own right. Both transport and DAC now feature matching touch-screen displays.
The DAC itself is designed to run the most optimised digital and analogue pathways for your music. It is actually two DACs in one; the first for PCM signals, the second for DSD. It also has the options of a solid-state or valve output, all options controlled from that dimmable front panel. The company also showed its Music Player digital hub in its Metronome line, in a fine sounding room using a Constellation Audio integrated amplifier and Magico S1 Mk 2 floorstanding loudspeakers.
On the vinyl side, a first for Mark Levinson, the company announced its first turntable, the $10,000 No. 515. This is a collaborative venture with turntable maker VPI, using a three-belt motor arrangement to give it almost rim-drive performance, and a gimballed tonearm (unlike the unipivots traditionally used by VPI). This is the first turntable in Mark Levinson’s 45-year history, which reflects just how significant the vinyl revival has become. Fortunately, having waited a couple of generations for a turntable from the brand, first listen suggests the No. 515 is a bit of a goodie.
Meanwhile, Harman stablemate Revel showed its Performa3 Be Concept loudspeakers, with the F208Be three-way floorstanders on demonstration and the M106Be two-way standmount on show. As the name implies, the new Performa3 is a heavily tweaked version of the F208, with a beryllium tweeter. What the name doesn’t imply is the loudspeaker also uses the company’s Deep Ceramic Composite drive units for the midrange and woofer, and a redesigned crossover and Acoustic Lens Waveguide. Expected to cost somewhere between the current Performa3 and Ultima2 models, this mini-range of two speakers hold great promise if the F208Be prototype is anything to go by.
Roy Hall of Music Hall always has a range of great and affordable turntables and amplifiers on display, and this year Music Hall launched four new turntables ranging from the MMF-1.3 up to the MMF-7.3 at $1,595. Arguably the most important of all four is the MMF-1.3, a belt driven player with built-in phono stage, an aluminium tonearm and platter and comes shipped with an Audio-Technica AT3600L moving magnet cartridge, all for $299!
This is joined by the new $999 A30.3 integrated amplifier, which delivers 85W includes both a MM phono stage and a full function 24/192 DAC, as well as five analogue inputs.
We’ve saved perhaps the best until last. Zanden Audio announced the new 3000mk 2 tube preamplifier with transformer coupled inputs and outputs. This $23,000 line preamplifier was being used in a full Zanden analogue only system, with a Grand Prix Audio Monaco 2.0 turntable (with 12” Tri-Planar Ultimate arm and Air Tight PC-1S cartridge) and full Grand Prix Audio Silverstone/Formula shelf and platform system, all into Kharma dB-9S floorstanding loudspeakers. This is not a cheap system (around $250,000 including room treatment and cables) but it was a system of great refinement, depth, clarity, and effortlessness… the perfect thing to set you up for the flight back to London.