There comes a point when enough is enough. And that point came around 12:30 pm Friday afternoon, when after about three hours in what is known as the “South Hall” I had to flee the drones, virtual reality goggles/headsets, smart appliances, and bedazzled mobile-phone cases of the technology-fueled aspect of CES, and return to the warm sonic embrace of high fidelity on the upper floors of The Venetian Hotel.
That is the CES I like best. Oh, I had such plans for Friday… I was going to do so much listening, photographing, and videoing of all things amazing in high-end audio at CES. Instead I ran from meeting to meeting, and presentation to presentation until Jon Derda at Mobile Fidelity slowed me down with some Japanese whiskey and some much-needed laughter. I had ubëred my way to the South Hall in the morning courtesy of Brian Hunter because we both were scheduled for an Audio-Technica demo regarding their new Bluetooth, Pure Digital Drive headphones, and belt-drive turntable, but while he attended to matters more headphone-related than I before our appointment, I braved the massed throngs of gamers, computer engineers, drone enthusiasts, and speaker dancers that seemed to call the South Hall home.
I know it seems like I’m knocking a large percentage of CES attendees, and maybe I am. It’s just not my cuppa. Was it interesting? Yes, mildly. But nothing grabbed me or shook me in the hours of wandering the two massive levels that comprised the South Hall, and other than the very lovely Audio-Technica demo, and perhaps the Audeze, and HifiMAN booths, it was all a little too surreal for this vinyl junkie.
Give me the New York Times (actual newspaper) on Sunday, a copy of Sunday at the Village Vanguard by Bill Evans, a coffee, some croissants, my sofa, and I’m happy. I’ll take analog stimuli any day of the week over digital (unless maybe we’re talking about the totaldac). So while I get the hype around immersive augmented-reality, I’ll take reality.
I also booked into the Bang & Olufsen release demo of the Danish technology, and lifestyle mega-company’s BeoPlay M5. This is a flower-pot sized loudspeaker/streamer that holds real possibilities for multiple-room music streaming applications with an incredibly small footprint that not only delivers impressive 24/96 lossless fidelity, and bass for it’s size, it’s completely wireless, can be charged via USB, integrates Chromecast, Bluetooth, Apple Airplay, and will retail for just $599 USD.
Despite my tech detours, I did manage to organize some face time on Saturday with Mofi mastering legends Shawn Britton, and Robb LoVerde, who I’ll be video interviewing on all things Ultra Disc One-Step, and look for quick video hits with the likes of Rob Darling of Roon, Jana Dagdagan of Stereophile, and Mat Weisfeld of VPI. I’ll also be getting some face time Saturday with the new Mark Levinson No. 515 turntable, so please do drop by Part-time Audiophile, and put your feet up for awhile.
Pictures from Friday at CES 2017 in Las Vegas: