Triangle Art builds what are without a doubt some of the most gorgeous turntables and tonearms being produced today. On display at CES were three turntables: the Concerto ($3,995), the Symphony ($6,000), and the spectacular Reference SE ($ 24,995).
The tables were in turn fitted with either Triangle’s 9-inch Osiris 9 tonearm ($4,980) or the 12-inch Osiris 12 ($5,800).
If there were an award for consistency at shows, it would go to Bea Lam and Luke Manley at VTL. They seem to be incapable of making a bad sound, perhaps because VTL’s demonstrations rely on tried and tested system synergies, such as using a Spiral Groove SG1.1 turntable with a Lyra Etna cartridge, a dCS Vivaldi digital player, and Wilson Audio Sasha 2 loudspeakers, all on HRS racks with Transparent Opus MM signal cables and Nordost Odin power cords. Or maybe it’s because the installation is performed with care, attention and – that word again – consistency. However, the largest part has to come down to VTL amplification sounding pretty good in it’s own right.
This year, VTL was showcasing two revised preamplifiers. In the demonstration system, the new TP6.5 Series II Signature line preamplifier ($15,000) was being played, partnered with matching TP6.5 Signature phono preamplifier and S-400 Series II Reference stereo power amplifier. The TP6.5 Series II is a significant revamp on the seven year old TP6.5, with a power supply and shock-mounted high-current gain stage trickled down from the TP7.5 Series III flagship, along with a redesigned FET-based gain stage, audiophile-grade capacitors and additional bypassing.
Alongside the TP6.5 Series II, VTL has announced an improved version of its entry-level preamplifier, the TL-2.5i Performance Preamplifier. Available as a line-only preamplifier for $3,000 or line and phono for $4,000, this all-tube amplifier has been upgraded thanks to adjustable gain for line inputs, and is now voiced with audiophile grade capacitors. The MM/MC phono board (with adjustable gain and load) can be retrofitted.
The Greek high-end audio company Ypsilon was showing its impressive new Phaethon integrate amplifier ($24,800), which is described as a “hybrid line level amplifier utilizing only three active gain stages, two of them with low noise valves operating in single ended Class A fashion…” The amp offers a so-called ‘bridged single-ended’ output stage.
Shown in conjunction with the Phaethon was Ypsilon’s VPS-100 Valve Phono Stage, which sounded terrific with the Thales/Ikeda turntable/cartridge combination described under ‘Thales’, above.
The well-regarded ultra high-end brand Zanden debuted a new, comparatively inexpensive (well, for Zanden) USB DAC, called the Model 500 (projected price, $7,500).
Zanden’s Kazutoshi Yamada explained that, in his view, reducing PC-induced noise is one the very most significant issues in achieving top-tier sound quality with USB DACs. Accordingly, the Model 500 will, in final production form, use a very effective, proprietary noise-blocking material in its chassis.