CES 2013 The Wrap!

If I was to try my hand at trendspotting, I'd have to say there were two opposing poles attacking audiophile's soft middle at this year's CES—DSD and Lifestyle. Most DACs either included DSD-capabilities or their representatives were saying its on the way. The Lifestyle influence was seen in a number of ways but can be summed up by simplification and form factor/style (here the Wadia Intuition 01 is an obvious standout). There were many multi-purpose devices incorporating network players with integrated amps, DACs with amps, disc spinners with USB inputs, preamps with streamers, and more. I also see the inclusion of the very promising Apt X Bluetooth functionality as a huge boon to get the non-audiophile playing their tunes through the hi-fi which is the best way I know of to show people why we spend so much time and energy on hi-fi. Hint: its the music and the quality of its playback and that's a lifestyle I'm proud to be a part of.

the Acoustic Plan DigiMaster was responsible for the musical bits in the DeVore Fidelity room

My favorite part of CES is absent from most of my pictures and that's people. I had the opportunity to spend some one-on-one time with a number of manufacturers and colleagues talking about all things computer audio and here I would also say a lot of time was spent discussing DSD. It was the acronym on most lips. And on a related note, I saw one show attendee, MOG's founder and until recently its CEO David Hyman, with "PONO" on his badge (but he wasn't talking)! I am also happy to report that a number of new Q&As with equipment manufacturers and industry people will be forthcoming in 2013.

the dCS Vivaldi stack

I was treated to some great music in a number of rooms for which I am always grateful. A nod and thank you goes out to John DeVore of DeVore Fidelity, Cookie Marenco of Blue Coast Records, John Quick of Tempo Distribution, Peter McGrath of Wilson Audio, Luke Manley and Bea Lam of VTL, and Philip O'Hanlon of On a Higher Note for always placing the focus on the beauty, fun, and fulfilling-ness of the music they play. Peter McGrath shared a DSD recording of Nat King Cole through the dCS Vivaldi stack that was simply stunning so much so that if you heard it you'd know why DSD was on so many lips and being played through so many systems.

the impressie TAD system

I'm also a fan of the introduced music approach and here Philip O'Hanlon, Andrew Jones of TAD, Jonathan Derda and David Solomon of Peachtree, and the gentleman from Audionet whose name I neglected to get were stand outs.

Cookie Marenco demo'd some stunning DSD in surround and at least one listener left with tears in his eyes courtesy of Joni Mitchell

Perhaps my most favorite part of CES took place on the plane ride home when my friend and colleague Stephen Mejias and I swapped music sources and spent hours listening to each others music. Flying is among my least favorite things to do but with wonderful music playing into my ears and quick excited discussions about what we've just listened to in between, I almost wished the flight was longer.

Apologies to all of the people, rooms and equipment I missed as I certainly missed a lot. For full coverage of CES, make sure you visit the other Source Interlink Media websites:

Peachtree's (familiar) banner

Martin Osborne's picture

For anyone thinking of taking the plunge into computer audio irregardless of budget there are some intriguing looking choices joining the market.

You mentioned you have some Q and A's lined up for 2013. I wonder if there is any possibility of Q and A's with some of the independent digital music marts such as Boomkat and Bleep and labels like Hyperdub and distributors like drip.fm? These guys all seem to be on the ball with downloads and way more organised and flexible than the big providers, with no territory restrictions and offering FLAC and WAV versions as a matter of course.

It could be interesting to hear about their experience of consumer preferences for file formats, ratio of downloads to CD's/vinyl, any cost, copyright or technology barriers to getting the music released (and if you need an outbreak of grumpiness - provenance) and whether hi rez is on the horizon for them?

Michael Lavorgna's picture

And thank you, Martin, for the excellent Q&A suggestions. I will see what I can do.

deckeda's picture

It just occured to me to ask if major music labels are represented at these or similar shows and in what form?


Peachtree oughta make a TV commercial, woman holding dress down to keep from flapping etc. a la the original Maxell spot:


Michael Lavorgna's picture

But that doesn't address your question. There is an "Entertainment/Content" category on the CES website that has a "Entertainment/Content" subcategory but I do not see any of the major labels listed.