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CES 2003 by Roger S. Gordon

         deHavilland Electric Amplifier Company Located in a small room at T.H.E. Show, deHavilland was using their UltraVerve preamplifier and their Aries 845-G amplifier. The front end was a Sony SACD77ES with a California Labs Alpha D/A. Speakers were Alon Lotus Elite Signatures and all cabling by Cardas. This room was my "Best Sound of Show" room. My CD of two acoustic guitars playing surf music(1) sounded incredibly real. The two tracks of Lisa Gerrard's(2) singing raised the hairs on the back of my neck it sounded so real. Soundstaging, imaging, you name it, everything was perfect. An ideal system—until you start playing large orchestral music.

      Playing The Gladiator Waltz track from the More Music From Gladiator CD(3) was educational. This track is similar to The Battle track on the original Gladiator CD(4). The music is very loud with lots of low bass. One of my friends used The Battle track at the 2002 CES to see how many different amps he could drive into clipping—quite a few as it turned out, including a number of well known solid state amps. While listening to The Gladiator Waltz track I heard the low notes. I could feel the briefcase sitting on my lap vibrating from the bass. However, I didn't viscerally feel the bass. It was a very odd experience to hear the bass, but not feel it. The Alon Lotus Elite Signature speakers are rated down to 28Hz. So I did not think that they were the problem. What I suspected was that the single 845 vacuum tube that powers each monoblock (rated at 30 watts per channel) was not adequate to the task.

      I tried to answer that question by going over to the Alexis Park and playing the same CDs in the Alon by Acarian Systems room. The Alon room was also using the Lotus Elite Signature speakers. However, they were augmented with two Alon Thunderbolt powered subwoofers. Other equipment included a Conrad-Johnson ART series II line stage, Antique Sound Labs Hurricane 200 watt/channel mono block amplifiers, and Metronome T1A transport and C20 Signature DAC. The Alon system had bass, it had slam, it had dynamics. The Alon system had everything—except the magic of the deHavilland system.


           Complete report at