My alphabetical coverage is naturally doomed to failure because most co-exhibiting manufacturers teamed up with someone from the opposite end of the ABC. But first, a few anonymous and not-so-anonymous markers. It goes without saying that anyone attending CES went through contortions of the financial, laborious, stressed-out and planning kinds to attend. Why then did certain rooms practice exactly the sort of barbaric behavior Americans are always accused of as a nation perpetually stuck in disrespectful adolescence and regressive behavior? I'm talking about obnoxicating volumes that completely undermined demos in neighboring rooms, in some cases incapacitating entire hallways because these arseholes even left their doors open. Such utter disregard for courtesy and common sense increased daily with the passage of time. More and more beer bottles piled up in front of certain rooms. Houston to outer space: Could CES management impose strict decibel rules and thereby secure authorization to unceremoniously shut down any rooms found to be in constant excess of such levels? Boy would I have loved to see certain rooms closed down and disqualified, its occupants banned from attending the show the following year!

Arnold Heres from Cruz Audio -- "Not from this world" as the byline of his card reads -- had been highly recommended as a designer of cutting-edge digital amplifiers. Alas, his door was locked one hour after the show's morning opening on the second or third day of the event. There was clearly nobody inside unless someone was sleeping off the previous evening's festivities. As a press member with little time to spend in any one particular exhibit, returning to displays that weren't open during regular hours just wasn't possible. Hence I missed out on a promising discovery I had every intention to cover. Despite the obvious pains taken to exhibit in Las Vegas, this manufacturer truly proved to not be from this world. Hello!

Walking into Peter Qvortrup's room to check on the latest Audionote UK offerings, I waltzed straight into an animated private conversation conducted across the room. Nobody present had the presence of mind to interrupt it for even a second to see who had entered. Conducting personal business on the showroom floor while visitors who attend on their own nickel and dime are left completely neglected and unacknowledged makes for a bloody poor first impression. This is true regardless of whether such a visitor is with the press, the audio industry or attending as a private individual. Mighty bad form, chaps. Stuffy private club antics may be the thing in London but not here, during the largest consumer electronics show in the world.

Last but not least, during the last few days prior to leaving for Las Vegas, my e-mail in box became veritably jammed with last-minute press releases. They all prompted me to visit specific exhibits, clearly in the hopes to be covered and reported on. Curiously, most of these companies act as though we didn't exist throughout the remainder of the year. The bottom line? Support's a two-way street. We're easy to find. We love to work with you in any capacity we have at our disposal - but show us a little respect once in a while. Return phone calls or e-mails, let us know you saw our coverage. Do you realize that each of our writers attended this show on his or her own nickel, penning a follow-up report without any monetary compensation? We spend our personal funds to promote you! Okay? In the end, human nature prefers to work with those who show appreciation for one's efforts. It's merely common sense, nothing more. Without further ado, here's what I saw and heard that seemed worthy to pass on to you, our cherished readers.

Acoustic Dreams, as in years past, showed again with Ayon amplifiers and speakers, of which the Dragon S two-way with 95dB sensitivity, novel side-firing "Airflow Vent" and 8" full-range driver with support from a 12-inch woofer looked tailor-made for SET fiends like yours truly. Frequency response is given as 35Hz to 80kHz. The powering amplifier was the entry-level Sunrise which uses one 32B "super" triode per channel, abetted by one 5687 and 12AU7 pre- and driver tube each.

Power output is given as 25/50watt nominal/peak while the 3 line inputs (with one direct) and remote volume control turn the Sunrise into a high-class integrated SET amplifier. Any 300B tube in the book can be used though factory calibration may be required to optimize the circuitry for a given tube's specific requirements. The chassis is formed with a stainless steel cover plate, a chromed front, adorned with three Rhodium transformer canisters and gussied up with Martini Racing Green lacquered wooden cheeks.

Mark Markel of Analysis Plus is making waves in the pro market, providing guitarists and recording studios with microphone, mixing and other specialty cables and winning his first Editor's Pick award with Guitar Player magazine while garnering further accolades from Vintage Guitar Magazine and Saxophone Mouthpiece Heaven. On the connector front, the Xport 2 pin/IEC adapter allows use of aftermarket three-prong power cords with entry-level DVD players that sport the pathetic detachable 2-prong jobbies. New in-wall interconnects and speaker cables [the Oval IW and Blue Oval respectively] are more new offerings from the boyz in Flushing/Michigan.

As part of the AYDN/KR Audio exhibit, Ars Aures from Italy romanced the cosmopolitan eye with stunning fit'n'finsih and a designer palette of automotive lacquers. Their flagship Sensorial [$14,500/pr with stand] is a dual 5-inch d'Appolito two-way with Revelator softdome tweeter and 89dB sensitivity that was shown in extravagant royal blue chassis with natural Beechwood cheeks and powered by Eunice Kron's mighty Kronzilla monoblocks [more pix in the KR Audio chapter].

The smaller Ars Aures Do 5-inch 2-way was clad in Mercedes Gold lacquer and perched atop a Carrera White marble stand in the adjacent room, with a massive shelfless EquaRack decoupling the electronics on custom ball bearings that were directly attached to the super structure's cross braces which, themselves, are fully modular to accommodate any conceivably sized component - more on this new component support system in EquaRack's own listing.

For equivalent sex appeal in the amplifier arena, little can match Art Audio's gleaming Adagio monoblocks [upper left] which took backstage seating to the $3,995 Carissa 845 SET stereo amp on active duty which our own John Potis deemed Blue Moon Award material and then put mouth to wallet by purchasing it as his reference tube amp. Showing with Cain & Cain's Fostex horns, I detected unnatural brightness and zippiness in this system which clearly wasn't a function of the amps and saw itself repeated in one or another aberration in other Cain & Cain exhibits at CES. Very much unlike during HE2003 or VSAC2003, they all seemed curiously unbalanced. I can't be sure why, but an absence of system/room synergy was likely to blame. I'd love to hear Joe's PX-25 on one of the Rethm speakers and understand that Art Audio's Witchdoctor Audio dealer in Berkeley is doing exactly that very demo for Rethm's own Jacob George before he departs for his home in India's state of Kerala. Perhaps this will lead to future collaborations between Rethm and Art Audio if Jacob signs off on the pairing?

Captured during a brief chat outside his room, Joe and Sakura Systems' Yoshi Segoshi held court, with Yoshi dressed in traditional Japanese finery and, like the gentleman he is, indicating that our prior clash over the Audio Zone amp review is water under the bridge. My compliments to Yoshi. We all get bent out of shape at one time or another -- and being of Irish/Germanic descent, I have that bristly technology down pat -- but to move on and let bygones be bygones is a sign of true class. Bravo!

Indefatigable music lover Tash Goka of Antique Sound Lab/Reference 3A/Divergent Technologies fame premiered his new Reference 3A Dulcet monitor in Cherry or Maple [$1,695/pr] which filled his room with a gargantuan sound of such bass extension and control as to utterly belie its size. Tube lovers take note: This speaker belongs on your list if your room and budget are of modest dimensions. The new ASL TwinHead MkII [$1,895] is a 2A3-based transformer-coupled/OTL preamp/headphone amplifier with dedicated 4-pin XLR output socket for my favored AKG K-1000s earspeakers.

Ever prepared, Tash had a pair of K1000s hooked up and I'm here to tell you that these 2A3s controlled these notoriously difficult-to-drive headphones with aplomb. Braving the likelihood of sounding like a skipping CD, Tash is one of those rare and steady exhibitors who always make excellent sound, and always for the same simple reason: He doesn't attempt the extravagant or grandiose but caters to real-world constraints of expenditure and available space; and doesn't hire more speaker than the room can support. While press excitement hovers around the mega-buck rigs and glitz, rooms like these are what gives hope to the survival of High-End audio as an audible art for everyman/woman.

Audio Physic's new flagship Kronos uses four actively powered woofers below 250Hz, each driven with a 250-watt onboard Class A/B amp. Twin 6-inch couplers bridge to 500Hz where an in-house manufactured 6" coaxial driver with Scanspeak's RingRadiator centered above the midrange driver takes over. If you're an audio reviewer, your tax write off upon acquisition will weigh in at $65,000. The massive artillery of bass drivers is reflected in the 7Hz @ -6dB spec while 89dB sensitivity allows even low-power amplifiers to manhandle the dual-concentric driver and leave the bass work to the integral transistors.

Audio Physic's wide bandwidth 825-watts-into-2-ohms digital monos with quoted frequency response of 2Hz - 250kHz served woofing function in this setup but the firm states that low-power valve amps are copasetic choices as long as desired playback levels and room size are taken into account.