In search of new or recently released 2-channel gems, I attended CEDIA Expo 2012, which was held in Indianapolis, IN from September 6-8, and will be preparing a multi-part show report.
This is the third section of my report and it will begin coverage of new audio electronics, source components, and accessories seen at CEDIA.
Note: To make things easier for online readers, I’m covering manufacturers in alphabetical order. As always, my apologies to any manufacturers whose worthy products I fail to mention here. Enjoy.
Audiophiles of a certain age will recall that not so very long ago audio electronics from a firm known as Mondial Designs were very well regarded and coveted by many. Mondial products were sold under two related brands: Aragon and Acurus, companies whose products are still widely discussed online to this day. In 2001, however, Mondial was sold to Klipsch Group where, for a variety reasons, both the Aragon and Acurus brands languished. Now, I’m pleased to report Rick Santiago and Indy Audio Labs (a spin-off from Klipsch) have brought both Aragon and Acurus back in a big way.
At CEDIA, Aragon showed two gorgeous power amps: the 2 x 200-watt Aragon 8008 stereo power amp and the 1 x 500-watt Iridium monoblock amp, both priced at $3999/each. In keeping with past practice, both amps are said to be well suited for driving both standard and low (down to 2 Ohm) loads. The styling of both amps will be immediately familiar to Aragon fans of old, though the Iridium model, in particular, could be considered an update on the classic Aragon Palladium amp of days gone by. Santiago says that the amps preserve many of the same circuit topologies that made Aragon amps so desirable in the first place, but with contemporary parts upgrades and a handful of convenience features (such as remote performance monitoring and 12V controls) that should make the amps more appealing for custom installers.
Acurus showed a host of products at CEDIA, too, but most on display were oriented more toward high-performance home theater applications. Stereo enthusiasts will want to note, though, that beautifully made and sensibly priced 2-channel Acurus models will be entering the market very soon. A good case in point would be the 2 x 200-watt Acurus A2002 power amp, which will sell for $2499.
Audio Electronics by Cary Audio
Audio Electronics is a new line of high performance yet value priced high-end audio components created by the good folks at Cary Audio. The first Audio Electronics product to arrive on the scene was the recently released Nighthawk headphone amplifier ($1199, click here to read my Playback review of the Nighthawk), which was prominently displayed CEDIA. But at CEDIA the firm also took the opportunity to announce two new Audio Electronics models: the Constellation pure, Class A triode tube-powered preamp ($1395) and Hercules 2 x 30-watt ultra-linear tube-powered power amp ($1595). The components are simply but beautifully finished and are—judging by our experience with the Nighthawk headphone amp—exquisitely made (though in an understated rather than ostentatious way). We’re eager to hear them in action.
Normally, show-goers might expect AudioQuest’s booth to be all about cables, cables, and more cables, but at CEDIA the centerpiece of the AQ display was the unspeakably cool new DragonFly USB DAC/headphone amp ($249), which is only about the size of a typical USB memory dongle. (NOTE: For subscribers to The Absolute Sound or for those who prefer to buy the magazine on newsstand, I strongly encourage checking out Editor-in-Chief Robert Harley’s review of the DragonFly in the current issue—Issue 225). But, for those who don’t have direct access to the magazine, let me sketch out the basics.