The Bryston 14B SST not-a-toy dual-mono stereo amplifier

Under the slogan "Taking Power To The Next Level", Bryston's James Tanner held court with the massive 600/900w into 8/4 ohms 14B, in its revised 40th anniversary SST guise. Over the ST series, it promises faster and more linear output transistors; doubled-up filter capacitance for even deeper, better-controlled bass; a new proprietary grounding protocol eliminating the need for ground lift switches while measurably lowering noise floor; and a new computer-modeled heatsink profile for cooler operation and enhanced component life.

The SST series currently comprises the monaural 7B SST, the 3B/4B/9B twin-module/14B stereo amplifier and the modularly expanding 3/4/5 channel versions of the 9B. Faceplates are available in silver or black, and a new touch-sensitive membrane without any moving parts becomes the turn-on control.

Also new for CEDIA was Bryston's new SP 1.7 AV processor ($4,295) with its all-new digital processing board. The SP 1.7 features a 5.1 analog bypass input; 7.1 channel RCA outputs for EX and ES modes; 96kHz digital input sample rates; compatability with DTS NEO 6 Matrix, DTS ES 6.1, THX EX and Dolby Pro Logic II; and sports additional 2-channel music and surround modes.

The SPV-1 Video Switcher ($1,495) offers 6 composite and S-video inputs, 2 component inputs, and main component, composite and S-video outputs.

A proprietary connector straps the SPV-1 to the SP 1.7 to allow for "seamless tandem operation". Bryston's strong professional background as well as their 20-year warranty makes getting into the Home Theater act with these Canadians an appealing proposition. One of these days, I'm bound to give in. Perhaps it'll be another maple leaf to, ahem, remove my own?

As the proud owner of a Cairn Fog V2.0 CD player with internal 24/192 upsampler card, I was well predisposed to liking the firm's quarter-width 80w Loco monoblock ($495/ea.). The Euro theme of style-meets-substance continues.

The neighboring 100-watt Mea monoblock ($795) with balanced inpouts and Class A operation up to 10 watts --where most sane listening occurs -- looked tasty as well.

Cary Audio announced a number of new and updated products including the revised Cinema P-7/P-7B (balanced) surround sound processor using the Motorola 56367 chip; the all-new stack [left] of the 24-bit/96kHz upsampling CD-308 CD player ($1,500), the SLP-308 solid-state remote-controlled preamp, the 50-watt CAD-308 SA hybrid power amp with 12AU7 drivers and blue VU meters; and [above] the CD-308T ($2,500), a 308 CD player with a tubed output stage following the Burr-Brown DACs. Both CD players have remote-control-variable analog outputs.

Incorporating solid-state into new pre and power amplifier models could open previously locked doors for Cary Audio, with installers who might be squeamish about tubes.

By invitation only, I was strategically accompanied by one of their dealers to get in. At 1:30 on Sunday, I arrived too late to make it. Classé's exhibit in the Marquette Hotel -- as my guide confided who had already seen it earlier -- showed a plethora of cutting-edge hardware introductions. But perhaps the even bigger news was that Madrigal's former chief of engineering had left the Harman Group and was now working exclusively for the Canadians. You know the old saying "much smoke, no real fire". This move reverses said truism. The smoke of new gear is generated by the fire of invention. Now operating on high-octane Madrigal engineering fuel, Classé could be poised for even greater things than in the past. That certainly was the take of this Classé dealer. He's Canadian and perhaps a bit patriotic but also close enough to the goings-on to have a good nose for things-to-come that would remain sheer rumors to outsiders like me.

Dynaudio added its Confidence C-1 ($6,000/pr) and Confidence Center ($6,000/ea.) to the recently launched Confidence Series that first rolled out with the C-2 and C-4 floorstanders.

Both new arrivals employ the same soft-dome Esotar2 tweeter with an impulse response reportedly 10 times faster than the previous Esotar. The C-1's plinth uses mounting holes to accomodate the new stand while the Center's plinth incorporates a swivel to optimally align it with listener height and distance. A dispersion control switch is included.

C-1 specs include 85dB sensitivity; long term power handling in excess of 170 watts; frequency response of 45Hz to 22kHz; weight of 10.9 kg and dimensions of 200mm w x 445mm h x 430mm d.

The Center raises sensitivity to 87dB and power handling to greater than 300W. Frequency response remains identical.

EAD by Alpha Digital Technologies, part of the TARA Labs umbrella in Ashland/Oregon, showed their new 8-channel DVDMaster [upper right] whose list of features is far too comprehensive to be listed here - safe to say that it includes ADAGIO Video Processing based on Silicon Graphics Pure Progressive technology; remote gain for amp-direct connection; and top-line Burr Brown 24-bit/96kHz DACs.

Garry V. Lambert, supremely talented chief operations manager for both TARA Labs and EAD, warned that he'd have to kill me if he explained how their trademark Roland-esque face plates are made. He then proceeded to tell me regardless. If uploads suddenly stop, blame Garry's hitman.

Envision an industrial-grade Dremel-type cutter that shaves off a few nano-inches passing the panel in a slight first diagonal. It leaves behind nearly invisible swirl marks. The second pass crosses the panel from the opposite direction and leaves swirl marks that turn the other way, creating a barely discernible ridge between both. Voilà - the tell-tale suggestion of ripples.

The PowerMaster 8300 [upper left, lower right] is an 8x300w monster with a 2000VA Plitron transformer, 0.5 Million uf of capacitance, Dynamic Power Steering and DSP-controlled auto-diagnostics.

The new TheaterMaster Studio preamp/processor ($10,000, lower left) is based on the Texas Instruments DA-610 platform. Equally feature-rich as the DVDMaster, it offers ten-channel output/throughput and video up-conversion among others.

Esoteric by TEAC is back in the US, figuring -- rightfully if you ask me -- that the demise of Wadia begged the question why Accuphase should remain the uncontested and only statement-level Japanese digital gear imported to these shores.

As a previous and very satisfied owner of TEAC's now discontinued top-ranking 3-head tape deck, I can vouch for the bullet-proof tank-like construction lavished on the firm's upper-crust contenders. Eyeing Esoteric's new P-70/D-70 transport/DAC combo [left] selling for, respectively, $7,500 and $6,500 before feasting on the DV-50 universal player (right, $5,500) could have made better men swoon. Santa, I've been good this year - lower one of these down my chimney, would ya? I'll trade you some adverts.

Check out the latest version of TEAC's famous VRDS "Vibration-Free Rigid Disc-Clamping System" transport. How 'bout specs? Digita-to-digital up-converters in the P-70 offering 24-bit wordlength at 88.2 and 176.4kHz. Input sampling frequencies from 32 to 192kHz on the D-70, three selectable digital filters allowing up-conversion to 24-bit/768kHz; RAM Link with 128M bits of SDRAM pre-DAC buffering; onboard attenuator - and 55 lbs of brick shit-house solidity for either piece.

If there was just one product introduction I could have voted for as top lust object, one of these would have been it!