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January 10th: CES over, back to the real worldCESice
     Saturday was the final day of International CES (as the organizers insist we call it). The official news release calls it the most "expansive" CES yet: over 3,800 exhibitors installed over almost 2.5 million square feet. The number of visitors will be the subject of a future press release, but the current estimate is more than 170 thousand, including some 50 thousand from outside the United States.
     Was this edition the biggest ever? Not the high-end audio part. Oh, there was lots to see, and to hear, but some of the floors of the Venetian hotel were sparsely populated. Worse, some of the rooms were occupied by companies having no connection to audio, such as a hard drive maker, and even a life insurance company.
     We've complained about CES being too early, requiring us to pack up and travel right after the New Year. In 2017 it will be worse: January 5th to 8th.That means press day will be on the 4th, and CES Unveiled, the event where we photographed this ice sculpture, will be on the 3rd. A few more years, and CES will start on Christmas Day.
     We've updated
our show blog, and there will be more to come in the next couple of days. As for us, we're preparing for the real world. Our offices reopen on Wednesday.
 


January 5th: CES under way

realworld
     So here we are once more in Las Vegas. No, it's not the real world, but neither is CES, which we are here to cover.
The introduction to our blog is already on line, and it will be updated shortly.
     Our office reopens January 13th. Stay with us for CES fun.
 

December 30th: Ready for CESvenetian
      Our bags are packed, and we're ready to fly to Vegas for our latest pilgrimage (if that's the word) to Vegas, for CES. Is it still the largest consumer electronics show in the world? It's certainly big, bigger than we could cover in four days plus two press days. But we'll do our best
     We now have our
Vegas preview, which will become the show blog as the days advance. We're aware that, with tens of thousands of journalists (and "journalists") covering the show, there will be more stories available than anyone can read. Or want to read. However, we like to give the blog our special point of view, Our CES coverage is different from other coverage for the same reason UHF Magazine is different from other magazines.
     The picture at right, by the way, shows the Venetian hotel at twilight. Most, though by no means all, the high-end exhibits will be at the Venetian.
     During the show, our office will have the usual skeleton staff only. Full service will resume on January 13th.
     From our small but loyal team, our wishes for all that's good in 2016, and especially plenty of great music.

 


December 18th: Tests done for UHF 97GT40Alpha
     This is one of the products whose review you'll see in our next issue, which is nearly done.
     It's the latest version of what we called the Swiss Army Knife of audio. For under $800 (in Canadian dollars, yet), it is:
     1) A preamplifier,
     2) A phono preamp, MM and MC,
     3) A digital-to-analog converter, with 24/192 kHz USB resolution,
   4) An analog-to-digital converter, so that you can digitize LPs, cassettes, or any other analog source,
     5) A headphone amp.
     Did we mention it's under $800?
     Our Audiophile Store was carrying the original GT40, and we have stock of the new one as well (
see it here). The full report will be in the new issue of UHF (No. 97), coming soon.


Maggie's electronic version of UHF
looks exactly like the printed version.
Only it's cheaper.
And you get it faster.
Click to meet Maggie!



December 11th: What happens in Vegas...sheri
     Okay, we're being inundated with press releases for products to be shown at CES in Las Vegas next month, but this one had to be a gag. Sheri's Ranch, one of Nevada's legal (and licensed) brothels, bills itself as "the unofficial brothel of CES," says it wants to "give back," and is having a draw. Three "lucky" CES attendees will be able to get laid...for free.
     Now, prostitution has always been one of the features of Vegas. Big trucks with luminous signs advertise "girls that want to meet you," and they mean in the next 20 minutes. But that's illegal, even if it's tolerated, whereas Sheri's is actually licensed. Yes, they have a Web site, and no, this doesn't seem to be a joke.
     Here's the offer: Each of the three lucky winners will receive round trip luxury car service from Las Vegas to Sheri’s Ranch, a champagne and surf and turf dinner in one of the brothel’s VIP sex cottages with a participating courtesan of the winner’s choice, and one full hour of hot, unbridled sexual activity, all FREE of charge!
     Well, they do say that what happens in Vegas stays in Vegas. Do viruses know that?

 


December 4th: Totem on Kickstartertotemkin
     Totem was back at the Toronto show, after a marked absence at several audio shows. It had its usual large room, but not much to fill it. One end of the room was showing the Forest speakers, which are very good but not precisely new. And the other end was dedicated to the Kin Mini Flex, a small speaker that had just been placed atop another speaker.
     Really? The Kin costs $400 each, and a pair can be matched to a very small subwoofer. It sounded reasonably good, if a little punchy (that's not truly a compliment). Was nothing else new? Yes, but for that we need to look on Kickstarter.
     You probably know what that is. Companies with more ideas than cash advertise their as-yet inexistent products, and invite you to invest. You put in some money, and if the project meets its goal, you'll have first dibs on the production version. Totem's Kickstarter project is for...an amplifier.
     There was a Totem integrated amplifier years ago, custom-built by Simaudio. But the amplifier couldn't drive all Totem speakers adequately, and the two companies got into a war of words about it.
     The new Totem amp, if it is actually created, will be a digital (type D) unit, with apt-X Bluetooth and a whole range of digital features. Totem says it has raised nearly 60% of the total amount sought so far, or just over $57,000. You can see its plans (and invest if you are so moved) at
Totem's Kickstarter page.


November 7th: Focus Audio amp at our Audiophile Boutiquefocusampopen
     You may recognize the picture at left, because that amplifier was on the cover of UHF No. 95. It's the Focus Audio Liszt Prelude, a very high-end integrated tube amplifier, made in Canada, from the well-known maker of loudspeakers. We liked it, and we've added it to our
Audiophile Boutique's hardware page. The amps are new, with full warranty, shipped to you directly from the factory. Our price is way below list, and it gets startlingly better if you bundle it with the interconnect cable you'll be needing.
     That page includes a number of other interesting products, including the Moon CD3.3 (a player with accessible 24/192 DAC), a lovely Thorens turntable, and a number of other products, all at special prices.
     As is usual with products in the Audiophile Boutique, the amplifier is available in limited quantities, which means we can't offer rain checks. When they're gone, they're gone.
     As usual, we don't stock anything we wouldn't recommend to our friends. Which many of you are.

 

November 6th: 6,500 attendees at TAVESsuave
     That's what it says on the news release by the organisers of the Toronto show. That number does include industry people and us, the pixel-stained wretches of the fourth estate, but the total number of consumers comes to 5,800. Impressive, considering that, for the first time, the show was way north in Richmond Hill rather than downtown.
     Are those figures inflated? Well, TAVES offered free entry to anyone with a room key from the hotel.
     Exhibitors? TAVES says there more than 100. How impressive that is can be difficult to gauge. An "exhibitor" can be a company like Plurison, with a mind-boggling variety of products over a huge space, or it can be someone selling surplus CDs from a table.
     But we don't want to exaggerate the skepticism. We wish the Toronto show well, and we always have. Of course, there's a consensus that there now too many shows in North America, and there are some we would like to see put out of their misery, but the Toronto show is not one of them. Nor is the Montreal show, despite our dismay at the way the last edition was run.
     Will the 2016 TAVES be in the same venue? Some exhibitors, especially the ones in the basement of the Best Western hotel, were less than happy.

BY THE WAY: This weekend's
Flash Sale is now on, and there are a number of one-off products you'll want to see. Did we mention there's only one of each?


November 5th: Winding up TAVES
     We've now
completed our blog on this, the new Toronto show...which was not actually in Toronto.
taveshall
     It was in fact way north in Richmond Hill, on Highway 7. If you're not sure where Highway 7 is, let us simply say that it was useful to have a GPS.
     Two us spent two days at TAVES. Drop by and see what we saw. And heard.

October 28: The TAVES blog preview is on linesheratonparkway
     Yes, we're packing our suitcase and heading for Toronto (well, actually Richmond Hill) for the 2015 edition of TAVES, the Toronto show.
     It's way out of town this year, at the Sheraton Parkway on Richmond Hill. Is moving out of Toronto wise or foolish? There can be arguments on both sides, in fact.
     Last year, with the decline in the Montreal show, TAVES became the larger one, though it didn't do that entirely with high-end audio. There was video, of course, but also 3D printing. This year it's Virtual Reality. You can visit
the TAVES Web site for more info.
     We'll be blogging about the show, of course. And the blog is already on line. We'll add to it as we can. But if you see us, be sure to say hello.

BY THE WAY: We're doing an extended version of our usual weekend Flash Sale. It starts today at 3 pm.

October 23: The Montreal show will return
     We're about to pack up for TAVES, the Toronto show...actually in Richmond Hill this year, nowhere close to downtown. In the meantime, we hear that, despite our fears, the Montreal Salon Son & Image will be back in 2016, at the usual venue.sonimage
     Why did we think it might be otherwise? This past year, this once successful show had shrunk dramatically, and showed signs of problems under its new owners, The Chester Group. Indeed, show manager Sarah Tremblay resigned before the show was over. The Chester Group then spread itself even thinner with a show in the Vancouver area that was, we hear, not an overwhelming success.
     So here we are on the eve of TAVES, and the Montreal Salon announces its next show, still at the downtown Hotel Bonaventure. It will be held slightly earlier than in recent years, March 18th to 20th. There's a new sales director, Robert Mathieu, and he says that Sarah Tremblay is back in the organization. (Update: Sarah is at TAVES in Toronto, and no, she isn't back. The Salon's press release is a lie. Yes, a lie).
     But first things first. A week from now, October 30th, TAVES opens at the Sheraton Parkway in Richmond Hill. We'll be there.


Can an optical cable give you a true high-fidelity link
between a digital source and your DAC?
Yes, it if it's made of glass, not plastic.
See the Mavros glass TOSLINK cable on the Cable page
of our Audiophile Store.

October 16: Getting ready for the Toronto show

taveslogo15     But not ecactly in Toronto. The first few editions of TAVES (Toronto Audio Visual Entertainment Show) were right downtown, first at the King Edward, then at the Sheraton. This year? It's in Richmond Hill. Yes, that's north of highway 401, from which it has to be a clear day if you want a glimpse of the CN Tower.
     Why? We would expect that cost is a factor. If you've travelled to Toronto lately, you'll be aware that accommodations anywhere close to downtown run into a lot of money. There might be another factor too. Luxury hotels (and in downtown Toronto they mostly are) don't want their premises damaged, and they're not sure they can trust those scruffy audiophiles.
     TAVES runs from October 30th, through Hallowe'en and to November 1st at the Sheraton Parkway in Richmond Hill. You can visit the TAVES Web site here. At least two of us will be at the show, and we'll be blogging as usual.

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