The Home Entertainment Show (The Show) was in Irvine last week and we had an opportunity to stop by and see some really cool products. The Show is like CEDIA and CES but on a much smaller scale and with a focus on high end audio. It is a much more intimate way of seeing some of the most expensive products in the home audio world.
Since the attendance is a fraction of what you would see at CES or CEDIA you get more hands on time with the gear and direct contact with representatives who can spend a little more time with you discussing their products as well as those of other vendors. There were more than a hundred exhibitors from all over the world. Next year’s show will be June 3 – 5 and if you live in Southern California or are looking for a reason to visit you should start making plans now.
There were amps, speakers, turntables, headphones, cables and pretty much anything the audio lover would want to see and hear. Too many products to checkout in the afternoon that we had at the show. We want to highlight a few and recommend that you look for a reason to attend next year.
We met with Mike Liang of Woo Audio and he gave us a great demo of their vacuum tube headphone amplifiers. These amplifiers not only sounded great but looked like art. The WA7 Fireflies goes for $999 with a solid state power supply and $1398 for the vacuum tube WA7tp linear power supply. They sounded incredible.
I (Ara) even had my daughters in on the action. This is a picture of myself and my daughter Stephanie checking out the equipment.
They had a prototype portable DAC that is also tube based and will run about $1,000 when it’s released. Its a bit bigger and heavier than the Audioengine D1.
But the coolest thing we saw at Woo Audio was their $16,000 WA-234 multiblock headphone and speaker amplifier. One for each channel. This amp comes with multiple tubes so you can optimize your experience based on the music you are listening to. An amp of this caliber required something more than ear buds and for today I used a pair of Abyss AB-1266 Planar Magnetic headphones (MSRP $5495). Imagine… I had $21,500 worth of gear creating music for my ears! I listened to Classical, Jazz, and Rock and was amazed at how full the music sounded.
Abyss AB-1266 Planar Magnetic headphones
These headphones do not go over your ears in the typical way. They are supposed to rest on your head and stay just off your ears. As a result the are extremely comfortable and can be worn for long periods of time. The frequency response on these phones go from 5 Hz to 28KHz. That would be overkill for most humans but the range I can hear sounded good.
Elac showed a line of speakers created by noted speaker designer Andrew Jones called Debut. This was my favorite thing I saw for two reasons, one they sounded fantastic, incredible low end from a bookshelf speaker, and two, they are affordable. The frequency response on the bookshelf is 44Hz to 20KHz. A pair will run about $275.
They will also sell these as a set that supports Dolby ATMOS with a speaker that sits on top of the bookshelf or floor standing speakers and aimed towards the ceiling.
They also showed a subwoofer that can be calibrated via your Smartphone. Friend of the show Ray Coronado posted a video detailing the process:
Nordost Audio and Video Cables
Way up on the 14th floor where all the really expensive gear is was a cable company called Nordost. So we figured that a cable company on the 14th floor must mean really expensive cables. And boy were we right. Nordost showed off their ODIN 2 line of cables. Which just might be the most expensive cables you have ever heard. For instance:
It was a fun show. It had a completely different vibe than CEDIA or CES. There is little chance that we will ever be able to afford the gear that was demoed at the show. But for those who can afford it, there is plenty of manufacturers that cater to your needs. Most of the equipment is handmade with much of it made right here in the USA.
Posted by The HT Guys, June 4, 2015 11:10 PM
About The HT GuysThe HT Guys, Ara Derderian and Braden Russell, are Engineers who formerly worked for the Advanced Digital Systems Group (ADSG) of Sony Pictures Entertainment. ADSG was the R&D unit of the sound department producing products for movie theaters and movie studios.
Two of the products they worked on include the DCP-1000 and DADR-5000. The DCP is a digital cinema processor used in movie theaters around the world. The DADR-5000 is a disk-based audio dubber used on Hollywood sound stages.
ADSG was awarded a Technical Academy Award by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences in 2000 for the development of the DADR-5000. Ara holds three patents for his development work in Digital Cinema and Digital Audio Recording.
Every week they put together a podcast about High Definition TV and Home Theater. Each episode brings news from the A/V world, helpful product reviews and insights and help in demystifying and simplifying HDTV and home theater.