CES 2013: Rockport and VTL

It may seem like I’m a bit promiscuous, but … okay, maybe I really ought to stop right there and wriggle a bit for you. Got that image nicely burned into your imagination? Perfect. No, there’s not a particular reason, but, that’s how I roll.

As I was saying, I love me some Rockport Technologies. And this year’s introduction of the Atria is just another entry in a series of love notes, written especially for me. The Atria is a scaled-down Avior ($30k), sporting only a single custom 9″ carbon-fiber woofer to the Avior’s two. Cabinet volume is scaled down accordingly to about half that of the totally delightful Avior. Did I mention that the tweeter is beryllium? Other relevant specs: –3dB at 28Hz and 30kHz, a 4 ohm nominal impedance, and a sensitivity of 87dB. Price is set at $21,500. Shazam!

VTL was showing off three new bits, too. The $13,000 TL6.5 Series II Signature Line Preamplifier boasts a newly reworked power supply in a single-chassis version of the up-scale two-chassis TL7.5.

The all-new output stage of the new Series II utilizes newly available FET technology developed for green technologies such as solar panels and electric cars that require a normally-on state. Unlike MOSFETs that need to be biased on, normally-on FETs operate more like vacuum tubes, using a simpler circuit and conducting current continuously, resulting in a more tube-like sound with greater mid-bass control.

Also new is the $10,000 S-200 Balanced Stereo Signature Amplifier. Basically, a space-saving version of their monoblocks, the S-200 sports “all the features and functionality of the reknowned MB-450 and MB-185 Series III Signature monoblocks are built-in, but in a package costing significantly less.” With 200 watts per channel, the S-200 also features a “user adjustable Damping Factor feedback control that allows the user to adjust the amplifier’s output impedance by varying the amount of negative feedback. Impedance can now be precisely set to suit the listener’s taste and to improve control of the loudspeaker loads to deliver the best performance.”

The sound in this room was very interesting — and given that the demo in this room was more geared toward showing off what dealers could expect in the coming year, I at least was very moved. I’d love more time with any of this gear, honestly, and hearing it here, together, made for quite the aural treat. Nice combo, great sound, and very impressive all around.


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