January 9, 2009 - Series 2

The Audio Research CD8 ($9995) replaces the well-known and great-sounding CD7 in the company's Reference line. The CD8 features 24-bit/192kHz DACs and the same power-supply regulation used in the Reference 3 preamp. This replaces two 6H30 triode tubes with a single 6550C, which is most often an output tube for a power amplifier. Unlike the CD7's display, the CD8's is dimmable. Like its predecessor, the CD8 is fully balanced and packed with circuitry.

Germany’s Adam Audio showed the Column Mk 3 ($9798 per pair powered, $7398 passive) and Compact Mk 3 loudspeakers ($3998 per pair powered, $2798 passive). Adam is a big proponent of active loudspeakers and offers all of its products in active as well as passive form. Each driver has its own dedicated amplifier, and the speaker has a control panel on the back. The modest increase to go from passive to active, particularly when you consider the cost of a good-quality separate amplifier, makes an economic case for going active over passive.

Lafleuraudio hails from Quebec, Canada, and was showing the new X2 loudspeaker priced at $17,000 without stands. This two-way, three-driver speaker features two 5" woofers and a 1.5" ring-radiator tweeter. The striking cabinets are made of what the company calls "wild Russian cherry wood" and are finished to a very high standard.

The Acoustic Energy Radiance 3 from Britain appears to offer very high value for money -- $3000 per pair. These three-way floorstanders feature dual-voice-coil aluminum-cone midranges and woofers, and a 1" ring-radiator tweeter built into a custom waveguide. The wood shown in the photo is natural ash.

Calyx's The Integrated ($1995) marries a USB DAC to a class-D integrated amplifier. It weighs a mere six pounds, but it outputs 200Wpc, accepting digital input up to 24 bits and 48kHz.

Montana’s J-Corder is an interesting company. Company CEO Jeff Jacobs specializes in restoring reel-to-reel tape machines and vintage electronics. But the company also has on hand for sale some really cool vintage loudspeakers. Case in point: the Technics SST-25Hz subwoofer and SST-1 two-way horn speakers (above). These beauties came out of an abandoned theater and are from the late 1970s. Contact J-Corder for pricing.