Best Sound (cost no object)
Sony’s stunning SS-AR1 loudspeakers, played through the Pass Labs as mentioned by Steven Stone, but this time on vinyl, using a Spiral Groove turntable (the deck du jour at the Venetian). Hearing ‘When I Fall In Love’ from Steve Hoffman’s excellent remaster of Nat King Cole’s Love Is The Thing album made you remember why you got into audio in the first place. Magnificent!
Best Sound (for the lowest price)
Paradigm’s Shift loudspeakers. These active two-way loudspeakers are hooked directly to the fun button, especially as Paradigm is happy to demonstrate them as part of a kick-ass bedroom DJ set-up. Cleverly, the Shifts can be turned into wi-fi loudspeakers without tears, as they have a slot at the back to accept and power an Airport Express. All for $500.
Most Significant Product Introduction
The new ElectroMotion series from MartinLogan has already picked up an Innovation award from the Elders of the CES. The slim, full-range hybrid electrostatic loudspeaker delivers the beautiful open midrange of the breed, and not far removed from the company’s new Theos model, but costs just $2,000. Expect them to sell bazillions.
Greatest Technological Breakthrough
Meridian Sooloos Media Core 200. Stripping back all bar the key aspects of the Sooloos system, the Media Core 200 features a half terabyte drive, analogue and digital connections and all the key functionality of Sooloos, but can be run from a computer and controlled by an iPad. Best of all, it halves the price of admission to $4,000.
Most Important Trend
Those four words that ended every Venetian demonstration ‘…controlled by an iPad.’ This not only highlights how quickly the iPad became ubiquitous, but also shows a new-found maturity in audio; had the high-end reacted in its usual way, it would have tried to make its own version, which would have worked half as well and cost five times as much.