Stereophile Magazine

2005 CES: Day Four

By Wes Phillips

January 8, 2005 — The Primedia team has been staying at the San Tropez, home of T.H.E. (The High End) Show, which means some of us have been walking down halls filled with exhibitors frantically getting rooms put together before the throngs arrived. The night I arrived, one room in my building was making music that beckoned to me as I passed by—today, I finally entered and took over the sweet spot.

What took me so long? DeHavilland Electric Amplifier Company brought its Ampex 351-2 open-reel tape deck along to use as a source and, driving it with a pair of Nola's $9000 Viper 2s with a pair of GM70 50W SET monoblocks ($8995/each) and a Mercury Preamplifier ($3495 with Goldpoint stepped attenuator; $3995 with remote-control Alps potentiometer). The Mercury is constructed around a type 85 triode , while the GM70s use an 845, a 300B, and a KT88.

The power of three certainly works for de Havilland, because the sound was relaxed, focused, and utterly natural. "Listen to this," Kara Chaffee, de Havilland's chief engineer said, pulling out a vintage pre-recorded tape of Ormandy and the Philadelphia Orchestra performing Tchaikovsky's Fifth Symphony.

A moment of stunned silence is in order. It was magical. Yes, there was pre-Dolby tape hiss, but the music existed on a completely separate plane from the noise and it was . . . it was . . . it was just so right. It didn't sound like vinyl at all and I suddenly understood why some collectors prize the old half-track and quarter-track open-reel tapes so highly. There's a top-to-bottom seamlessness to the orchestral sound that nothing else quite duplicates.

"You know," a showgoer said as we left the room, "they got it right in 1958 and they've been screwing us ever since." I saw his point.

 Complete report at

February 8, 2005 (Follow up)

Stereophile Newsletter By Wes Phillips

Dreams so real
One of my dreams—a tantalizing chimera, it would seem—is to get things right in my reports. I trudge around CES collecting data sheets, talking to manufacturers, jotting down notes, and generally behaving like Woodward and Bernstein chasing down the big story. All too frequently, I seem to be more like Hildy Johnson from The Front Page.

Several doors down from my room at the San Tropez, I was blown away by the sound of the deHavilland Electric Amplifier Co. demo. I listened, I marveled, I jotted down notes, I took away fact sheets. When I wrote up my daily report, I even ran down the hall to jot down some more notes. I still got stuff wrong.

George Kielczynski, deHavilland's director of sales and marketing, wrote me a few days later. "You reported that the GM70 50W SET monoblocks were $8995 each, but they're $8995 a pair."

I guess the fit'n'finish fooled me. I also got the GM70's tube complement wrong: the amp uses an Ulyanov GM70, a 6AU5, and a 12SN7—not the 845, 300B, and KT88 I reported. D'oh! Guess that explains the model number.

Kielczynski also took me to task for neglecting the connecting fiber of the system. "Joe Cohen's PranaWire cables are an integral part of the sound you experienced in our showroom. If our sound was magical, PranaWire certainly was responsible for part of that magic." My bad.

Complete Report  at