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SoundBites Newsletter


Each year at this time, audio “loonies” from around the World head for the deserts of Nevada and a rendezvous extraordinaire. Otherwise known as the Winter Consumer Electronics Show, it’s THE place to be for those afflicted with that most dreaded of diseases; audiohilia. The atmosphere, the weather, the music and the gear are just the ticket to satiate the most ardent audiophiles’ appetite. Good things on hand this year so let’s have a look...


New Stuff

mbl: In my opinion, the best sound at the show this year was to be found in the mbl suite; though this isn't the first year I've felt this way. The last three or four years I've come away with the same impression.
         I simply have never experienced more transparent and dimensional sound, from any system, period. In a word, the sound was breathtaking.
         Expensive? I suppose. But then how much is state of the art worth? Without question, there are far more expensive speakers out there that, to these ears, can't hold a candle.
         The secret to the speaker's astounding performance comes from their groundbreaking midrange and high frequency transducers, the Radialstrahler. Like no other drivers on the planet, these unique creations are lightning fast and utterly grain free.
         No longer could I resist their attraction, and this year acquired the line. Our first pieces and have just arrived and I'm in the midst of break-in and set-up, trying to replicate the splendid sound I heard at the show. You'll have to get back with me in a few weeks for a full report. In the mean time, check out our Featured Product page for more information.

JEFF ROWLAND DESIGNS: I don’t think Rowland had any idea how popular the new 201 amplifiers would be. The company has been shocked at the number sold. 480 in just six weeks and over 600 to date! If you’ve had a chance to audition these tiny wonders you’ll know exactly why they’re being scooped up; they are remarkable amplifiers in every way.
          At a diminutive 2.6”H x 8.4”W x 11.5”D, the 201’s deliver a surprising 250 watts into 8
Ω, doubling to 500 watts at 4Ω. Even more amazing, the amplifiers run cool to the touch (never exceeding body temperature), even under demanding conditions. They pull only 8 watts from the wall at idle! Heck, I have a night light that consumes more energy than that!
          The sound is, well, Rowland: black backgrounds, wonderful inter-note and inter-transient silence, refined top-end and excellent staging. Of course the legendary Rowland build quality and attention to detail is fully evident; it’s second to none. From the solid billet chassis (machined from solid aluminum plate) to the dazzling faceplate, the Rowland exudes a jewel-like air of sophistication.
          The most surprising feature of the 201 is the price; just $4700 a pair!
          To follow that success, Rowland serves up the 501 mono blocks. These fellows offer double the power of the 201’s, in a chassis only fractionally larger. Yep, 500 watts at 8
Ω and a staggering 1000 watts into 4Ω. Yikes! $6800pr
          Of course you’ll need a preamp to go with your new amplifiers. Let me introduce you to the new Concerto Preamp. This slim-line beauty is just the thing to partner with a pair of 201’s or 501’s. $3900 and available late March.
          Integrated fans will cheer the arrival of the all new Concerto Integrated. Another slim line component, the new model utilizes the same innovative amplifier circuitry found in the 201, so it’s powerful, 250 watts a side. $5900. Add $600 for a phono card. Late February availability.

SHUNYATA: New goodies in the snake den! Power cables and line conditioning products were introduced, filling out the line and covering a range of prices.
New power cables include:
Copperhead ($395):Designed to work well with all components, especially amplifiers, the Copperhead uses beefy 10 gauge cryogenically treated copper conductors. Double shielding (foil and braided copper) reduce background noise and haze. Medical grade clear dielectrics and jacketing are employed along with the Shunyata Venom Silver IEC. Good moderately priced addition to the Hydra’s.
Taipan Alpha ($650): Ten gauge cryogenically treated copper conductors, triple shielded, encased in medical grade clear jacketing and fitted with Shunyata’s Venom Silver IEC. A great partner for Hydra’s, amps, pre-amps and other analog components.
Taipan vX  ($750): Featuring the patented FeSi-1000 compound, the Taipan vX noise reduction ability makes it an ideal partner for digital electronics, processors, video, DAT and video projectors, plasma and all other displays. Inside are 10 gauge conductors arranged in a proprietary twist-lind braided geometry. Silver and Rhodium plated AC and IEC connectors.
Python Alpha ($995): A new variant of the Python, without the FeSI-1000 compound, uses five cryogenically treated CDA-101 copper conductors, hand braided using Shunyata’s patented matrix geometry. Silver and Rhodium plated AC and IEC connectors. With a 9 gauge cross section, the Python Alpha is a great choice for high power amplifiers, Hydra’s, high resolution front-end components and just about anything analog.
Python vX ($1095): FeSi-1000 noise reduction compound surrounds five conductors of cryogenically treated CDA-101 copper wound in the Shunyata patented hand-braided matrix and topped off with custom Shunyata Silver/Rhodium plated IEC and AC connectors. An outstanding cable for high resolution digital gear.
Anaconda vX and Anaconda Alpha, state of the art super-cables, remain unchanged. The vX is designed for all things digital, the Alpha is tuned for amps, preamps and other analog sources and is the supreme partner to the Hydra.
          Seeking to extend the range of line conditioners, Shunyata introduced three new models at CES.
Hydra M6 ($995): Offering six outlets, the Hydra 6 offers Shunyata’s proprietary Trident Defense System of spike and surge protection, individually filtered custom made outlets and the company’s unique Venom noise filtration. Capable of passing 2400 watts (20A) continuously, the M6 will not constrain dynamics, even when used with large amps. Inside you’ll find a solid silver buss bar array for carrying power to the outlets. The M6 is a great option for those looking for Shunyata quality in a more moderate price range. Note: Power cord additional - choose from any of the models in their line and receive a $100 discount off the price of the cable.
Hydra M4 ($595): Specifications the same as the M6 above, but with four outlets. Note: power cord additional, choose from any of the models in their line and receive a $100 discount of the cable.
Hydra M2 ($395):– You guessed it, a two outlet model intended for use with amplifiers, video projectors or other components separated from the main system. Note: power cord additional, choose from any of the models in their line and receive a $100 discount of the cable.

         The Hydra 8 was awarded the Innovation in Design for 2003 and remains Shunyata’s flagship. Priced at $1995, the Hydra 8 is killer.
         The very popular Guardian HT-4 continues in the line and is a steal at only $395. A particularly great value considering it comes with the $179 Diamondback AC cord (with gold plated contacts)! It features Shunyata Venom noise filtration as well as the spike and surge protection circuitry.

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