The CIA's head hit man Dusty Vawter showed off his new Channel Islands Audio headphone amplifier and two different monoblocks, one chip-based like Audio Zone, 47labs and Pastoral Audio, one Class D 'digital'. The VHP-1 [$349] is described as a versatile studio quality headphone amplifier that uses a current-feedback circuit rather than opamps and is optimized for a wide range of load impedances (30-700 ohms). Greater than 120dB of dynamic range, two gain settings, high slew rate, short circuit and thermal protection, looped-through output jacks and an external 14vAC power supply round out this unit which I've asked to review personally.  

The 100/180-watt into 8/4 ohms D-100 monos [$1,599/pr] are said to overcome all the shortcomings of conventional Class D designs while the 40-watt VMB-1 monos
[$999/pr] are claimed to "yield the extension and dynamics of the best solid state designs with a richness usually associated with tube amplifiers." The use of a monolithic IC makes for short signal and feedback paths while a custom 300VA toroidal transformer and over 25,000uf of capacitance build up the power supply. Our own Paul Candy is slated to do the honors on these chip-based monos.

Dedicated Audio introduced their Cable Towers [4 for $99] which are Acrylic-based folded triangles with an upper channel and lower hole to allow for the convenient criss-crossing of loudspeaker cables and power cords. Especially synthetic carpets are known to contain static fields that interfere with the proper electromagnetic field development around cables. Hence cable lifters can make more of an audible difference than seems reasonable.

DeVore Fidelity showed off their new Super Gibbon [$4,000/pr in standard finishes] which combines the petite profile of the Gibbon 8 with driver and cabinet technology derived from their statement Silverback Reference.

Placed unusually close to the wall in a near-field long-wall setup, the Super 8s enchanted with colossal depth of field and full-range bass extension when employed in an appropriately downscaled physical space as here and driven from a choice stack of Shindo gear. That was fronted by John Tucker's modified Denon/Exemplar 3910 and a Shindo/Garrard 301 turntable. The latter [below left] had jaded Ken Kessler stop in his hurried hallway tracks to inspect this rarity up close and personal. Shindo-USA's Jonathan Halpern [above] found himself hit with a $40,000+ burglary post-T.H.E. Show. The St. Tropez hotel had failed to lock up the Monte Cristo ballroom as promised to secure his pallet for next-morning pickup. See our report for details on the theft.

Among the items stolen was serial #1 of Shindo's new statement Giscours preamp [$24,000, above right]. As of the time of this writing, neither the hotel nor show management have shown willingness to assume responsibility for the theft which occurred on their premises in a space that had been billed safe and secure. Still, the parties involved (Halpern and DeVore) are hopeful that common sense and ethics will prevail to avoid the unpleasantness of legal pressure. Our own Ken Micallef has put his greasy mitts on the Super 8s in absentia and a review is under negotiation.

HighEnd Audio fronted their Duevel setup with both analog and digital, the former compliments of Dutch Pluto turntable fame (due for review by Jules sometime in 05), the latter via Vince Sander's VRS Systems hard-drive server. The omni-dispersion principle of the German speakers made for an exceptionally airy if ultimately slightly soft-focus sound which is the particular hallmark of such designs. Duevel's new battery-powered CD player made its US debut in a silent display [below right].

Sir Tim de Paravicini bowed his new Esoteric Audio Research turntable and a $4,000 tubed Yoshino CD player based on an Arcam platform, feeding into Mårten Design's new Duke Ellington $15,000 two-box full-range speaker.

US distributor Dan Meinwald was especially excited about this new speaker model addition to the Swedish line since it allows a financially attractive 1|2 approach of starting with the $8000 Duke monitor and adding the dual-woofer Ellington base/sub later. Not being a vinylphile myself, Dan knew better than to get into any details pertaining to Tim's new deck but suffice to say, it seems like an all-out assault on the genre.

In the EAR/Mårten exhibit's smaller room, Peter Clark of RedPoint Audio Design held court with his Testa Rossa table recently reviewed by Jules Coleman while the Duke monitors demonstrated their mettle without support from the Ellingtons.