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CES And T.H.E. Show 2003 Report

"Best of Show" Finalists, Where Music Was King!

by Dick Olsher, Senior Editor, Enjoy The Music

One of my goals this year was to search for and locate audio systems whose tonal balance approximates that of live music. There has been a long-standing rift between the priorities of music lovers and audiophiles, which has been clearly reflected in current speaker designs. Audiophiles seem to prefer a super-etched, super-fi, presentation with more detail than live music has to offer. A rising frequency response in the upper midrange and lower treble is pretty common. Couple that with a weak lower midrange and upper bass and you end up with a balance no music lover would enjoy. Iím sad to report that audiophile-based designs are dominating the scene. Having covered about 80% of the high-end CES exhibits at the Alexis Park Hotel and much of T.H.E. Show, I can only point to a total of nine rooms that passed my test. Too bad; I hope to make it past ten next year

With apologies to those exhibitors I did not have the time to visit, hereís my short list of "Best of Show" finalists, where music was king.

3. The deHavilland Audio room pretty much had it all: convincing tonal balance, naturally detailed textures, emotional impact, and exceptional soundstaging. At the heart of it all were the deHavilland Aries 845-G mono block power amplifiers ($6,000/pr.) driving the Alon Lotus Elite Signature ($8,000/pr.) loudspeakers by Acarian Systems. The Alonís open baffle technology makes other conventional dynamic speakers soundÖ well boxy by comparison.

The digital front end consisted of the Sony SCD -777ES ($2,500) player, and the California Audio Labs 24/96 DAC ($1,500). The matching preamplifier was the deHavilland UltraVerve ($3,000). All cable, interconnects, and power cords were by Cardas Audio. deHavillandís George Kielczynski provided me with a tally for the total cost of the system at $26,189. That just goes to show that system building is far more important to good sound quality than money alone.

complete report at  http://www.enjoythemusic.com/magazine/equipment/0303/olsher/