Truth is – high-end audio guys are priced out of CES. With some suites starting at $50,000 and hotel room starting at $500 per night – it’s tough to stomach. It is what it is – and we have more than enough high-end shows in the US, anyway.
As you’ve probably heard, getting to CES is easy – getting around is a completely different story. Going just a mile on the strip could take you 40 minutes. And once you get to there, you have a jumble of home theater, gaming gear, and smart wireless gadgets to sort through.
I didn’t do much critical listening at the Venetian. A lot of times, the seats were occupied, but when they weren’t, the noise floor was pretty high. Some weren’t even playing music – just chatting and hanging out. Not to mention, it’s tough to isolate how a specific component sounds like – nevermind making those comparisons across similar products from other manufacturers. There was definitely less focus versus the usual high-end shows.
That said, I thought every high-end setup sounded very good in these rooms. Familiar systems, such as the Esoteric and Canton room, sounded much better than they did at the other shows. Could be the larger suites and extra dampening (shrug).
- The high spirits of Andrew Jones – and ELAC’s new Carina Series bookshelf speakers ($1,199/pr).
- These speakers sounded quite powerful and rich for its size. It has a captivating tonality and looks pretty clean. You could get a glimpse of it in the walkthrough video.
- The B&W and Rotel
- I just enjoy the energy of the people in this room. One of the nicer suites for sure. And these guys sure love their fancy chardonnay (check out the video).
- Comply SmartCore
- In past, before you could buy a pair of comply tips, you need to which size fits. With their new SmartCore – it takes most of the guesswork out. These tips will adapt to port nozzles from 4.8mm to 6.3mm in diameter. Big thanks to Gary Wong for showing me around.
- SVS Prime Wireless Soundbase ($499.99)
- I’ll start to explore more of these super integrated solutions. This one by SVS looks and feels solid. They were able to drive their SVS Ultra bookshelves effortlessly – and pretty damn loud.
- Emotiva Airmotiv T-Zero speakers ($499.00)
- These speakers sound truly phenomenal for its $499 price tag. True timbre, proper richness, and a healthy balance of low end and clarity. I would’ve guessed at least $2,000 for the pair.
- RHA CL2 Planar ($899.95)
- These IEMs are super special. Not only are they one of the best sounding IEMs I’ve heard, but you also have the option to go wired or wireless. I couldn’t get over how natural the midrange was while being engaged by the low-end. I think I’ll take a closer look.
- NAD Masters M10 ($2,499)
- This is the cleanest and more modern looking one-box solution for digital and amplification. Check out my overview here.
- VTL and Wilson Audio Sasha DAW
- The Sasha DAW also made its appearance in the Nagra room, but it was too crowded the time I visited.
- This was the best sounding room I heard at CES. A very naturalistic and compelling sound. Franz Schubert’s Piano Sonata No.21 had plenty of weight and texture with every note. You could kind of feel the hammers hitting the strings. A very articulate, quick, and musical system.
Since it didn’t seem like there was much video coverage of the show, allow me to give you the grand tour. Hopefully, you’ll get an idea of how it is being there. Be sure to subscribe as I’ll start doing video reviews very soon.
A Raw Walkthrough at CES 2019
If not for high-end audio, I’ll try to make it out to CES in 2020 to nerd out on drones and Street Fighter cabinets. 🙂