Immedia claims that a new suspension tuning method (soon to be incorporated in all of its cartridges), higher output, and the use of finer gauge wire in the generator coils, has resulted in performance that supersedes the venerable D.C. Lyra has another new cartridge in the works, the Helikon, which should hit the streets at $2500. Immedia was also showing the stunning new RPM Revolution turntable ($10,000, gulp!), designed by Allan Perkins. Besides its good looks, the Revolution is a smorgasbord of high-tech materials. The platter has a burnished graphite surface on top of a phenolic and stainless steel sandwich. The bearing utilizes a sapphire disc and tungsten carbide ball. The detached AC synchronous motor is fed by an analog sine wave generator and an outboard power supply. The arm mount is composed of an aluminum and stainless steel cavity filled with lead. A one-touch control allows for fine tuning of both 33 1/3 and 45 RPM. Sound impressive? It is. Eric Clapton's Unplugged (an old audio-fool favorite of mine) never sounded so good: rich, warm, and natural (not bad for what's apparently a digital recording). The rest of the system consisted of the RPM tonearm ($2895), Herron Audio VTSP-1/VTPH-1 linestage/phono stage combo ($6900), GamuT Audio D200 dual-mono amplifiers ($5000), Audio Physic Caldera loudspeakers ($20,995/pair in mahogany), and cables by Analysis Plus, Harmonic Technologies and Yamamura Churchill. Big bucks, but stellar performance. Watch for an upcoming tour of the Immedia factory and listening studios.

Prior to this year's show, I hadn't had much exposure to the Michell Engineering line of turntables imported from the U.K. by Artech Electronics. But what I heard in Vegas from the Gyro SE ($1995 with Rega RB300 arm), I liked. The Gyro's level of both physical and sonic refinement was impressive, especially considering its reasonable asking price. Michell also debuted two new products in January: The Orbe SE (Spyder Edition) turntable ($3500, including arm board), and the Delphini phono stage ($1295).

The Orbe SE, based on the successful Orbe platform, eliminates both the plexiglass base and dustcover of its more expensive sibling, bringing it in at $3500, undercutting the Orbe by $700. Improvements incorporated on the SE include single-point, ball-contact three-point suspension towers, and springs that the company says are easier to adjust. The Delphini phono stage offers adjustable gain and load, accepting both MM and MC phono cartridges (up to a maximum output of 3mV). High-tolerance 0.1% metal film resistors and 1% polystyrene and polypropylene capacitors are employed throughout, and the case is composed of non-ferrous polished stainless steel and acrylic. With any luck, reviews will be forthcoming.

The Shun Mook Monks, infamous for their Mpingo resonance-tuning discs, were in Vegas with a truck load of wooden goodies. While some might call the Monks' explanations of their products' inner workings, pseudo-science, voodoo and gobbledy-mook, their room, packed to the rafters with all manner of tuning devices, sounded bloody good. Besides the dots, discs, and other doodads, the Monk's were playing vinyl on an Oracle turntable tweaked-out with resonance control devices up the ying yang. The cartridge in question was the Shun Mook Signature ($3500), a device I hadn't crossed paths with before. The Signature's body is made from (surprise!) Mpingo Ebony, the so-called "Singing Wood of Africa". According to Shun Mook's white paper on the Signature, the company had to come up with an entirely new fabrication process in order to fashion the tiny wooden body parts, something that I'm sure is reflected in the Signature's hefty asking price. On the plus side, the Signature's respectable output voltage of 0.34mV means that it should be compatible with a wide variety of moving-coil phono stages. Whether or not the company's theories of resonance control have any basis in science, my ears tell me that they must be on to something . The system fronted by the Signature (and terminated in the Bella Voce Signature loudspeakers) sounded oh-so smooth and natural. One of my favorites of the show, in fact.


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