The Venetian Hotel, Las Vegas, Nevada
The elevator doors slid open and everyone looked at me with revulsion. I was used to it by now, it had happened twice already. It was because there were already 15 people crammed into the lift, and there was no way in hell they were going to let me, or anyone else in to get the 30 floors down to the casino floor. CES 2017 was in full-tilt mode. There were literally thousands of people swarming all over as Brian Hunter from Audiohead, and I were trying to fast-walk our way around the Venetian after he had grabbed me from McCarran Airport 40 minutes earlier. Let’s start with some announcements which will be of real interest I think for can lovers, of the mobile, and transportable varieties.
Chord Electronics out of England went big, and blew up three product announcements including massive improvements to their incredibly popular Hugo transportable DAC/headphone amp, now dubbed… wait for it. Hugo 2. The new version features the company’s latest proprietary FPGA technology, a fresh precision-machined, aircraft-grade aluminum case, a full-function remote control, and four digital inputs comprised of optical, coaxial, HD USB, and extended-range Bluetooth, with high-resolution file playback up to 768kHz. DSD512 is also available via Hugo 2’s HD USB input. Analog outputs are RCA, 3.5mm, and 6.35mm headphone outs. They also dropped the FPGA upscaling CD transport Blu MK II ($9,900 USD), and the Poly ($620 USD) network module which snaps into place on the Chord Mojo for high-resolution wireless streaming. It also features an SD card and network music playback with both smartphone control and playback.
I also touched base with one of my favorite speaker designers John DeVore, of DeVore Fidelity to soak in the vibe from his Sugden Audio powered set-up which at this moment featured his O/96 transducers being fed black grooves from a Brinkmann Spyder turntable. This was the second time in a row I’d seen DeVore pair his high-efficiency designs with solid state amps, and pre-amps from the stalwart British hifi house of Sugden. Usually the buzz is always SET with DeVore, so chew on this quick iPhone video while he discusses this solid state of affairs.
I then ran into PS Audio main man Bill Leebens, who was able to share some insights into the latest news from the Boulder, Colorado-based company. One of them was to me, a bomb drop: speakers in the works… He also touched on a new streamer, and plugged their DirectStream Memory Player for CD, and SACD. The Memory Player has eight years of reasearch, and two years of development behind it, and I plan to spend some with it this weekend. But the speakers are what I find to be the most interesting tidbit from this drive-by iPhone interview.
Gordon Burwell Sr. then sauntered into the conversation. For those not familiar with Burwell, he is of Burwell & Sons loudspeaker fame. His company’s designs utilize vintage Altec drivers, and exotic hardwood horns in absolutely gorgeous bespoke cabinets that I think touch on the soul of true-tone sound. Burwell’s Homage series retails for approximately $80,000 USD, but he hinted to me that a trickle-down design was in the works that could see 20-odd pairs of speakers being produced within the year that could muscle into the crowded $12,000 USD range. Listen in below:
That’s it for Day One, but Day Two promises to be even busier, and I’m going to try, and post more throughout the craziness. Please check back, and thanks for dropping by .