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High-end audio rocks CES

Smartphones, tablets, and OLED displays may get the lion's share of attention at CES, but what about audio? Here's a choice sampling of the very best of CES.

Vivid Audio G3 Vivid Audio

You've probably already read about the latest and greatest in smartphones, tablets, and OLED displays shown at CES, so let's take a look at the coolest high-end audio goodies. We've assembled some of the most promising candidates for your approval.

For anyone searching for wild looking audiophile speakers that stand out from the crowd of rectangular boxes, the new Vivid Audio G3 would be a good place to start. Vivid is coming on strong in the no-holds-barred audiophile market. The G3 stands a little under four feet tall, a good deal smaller than the company's flagship speaker.

Acoustic3D Emergence 2.1 Acoustic Hologram speaker system Acoustic3D
Sennheiser HD-700 headphones Sennheiser

Acoustic3D presented its desktop "3D" Emergence 2.1 Acoustic Hologram sound system. It looks like a serious attempt to advance the state of the art, and the styling is really cool. I want to get this for review.

Sennheiser's HD-800 was hailed as one of the world's best full-size headphones when it was introduced a few years ago. The new HD-700 utilizes some of the same technology, but carries a much lower manufacturer's suggested retail price. Sennheiser was also showing its new RS 220 wireless headphones, which are being touted as the best-ever wireless 'phones. I hope to get both for review soon.

Peachtree components Jon Zimmer

Speaking of wireless, few audiophile-quality speaker companies have embraced wireless technology, so I was surprised to see Home Theater Magazine reporting on Dynaudio's first wireless models, including the Xeo tower. The wireless system features uncompressed audio transmission technology.

I can't do a CES show report and not include a turntable, so here's one: Audio-Technica's new top-of-the-line AT-LP1240-USB Professional DJ Turntable. The turntable features a damped cast-aluminum platter with stroboscopic speed markings and slip mat, an illuminated speed indicator, adjustable pitch control, a start/stop button, a hydraulically damped lift lever, and a locking tone arm rest that keeps the arm and cartridge in place during transport.

Peachtree Audio was showing four new models at CES, including the affordable Decco65, a stereo 65 watt integrated amplifier with a built-in digital-to-analog converter; the NovaPre, a hybrid tube pre-amp/DAC/headphone amp; and the Peachtree 220, a standalone stereo 220 watt power amp. All products come in real wood finishes: Cherry, Rosewood, and Piano Black.

Anthony Gallo Acoustics, known for its spherical speakers, was showing superthin on-wall speakers. I don't have details just yet, but I'm guessing the speakers have some rather unusual woofers and tweeters lurking behind the grilles.

I'll cover more CES attractions in tomorrow's blog.

Gallo's new flat on-wall speakers Anthony Gallo Acoustics