Coming so soon after Munich High End, Newport Beach is more about showing what was launched in the first half of the year than it is about new products. Nevertheless, the show has gained importance on the calendar, and has become the place for a handful of high-end product launches, some of which stem from some surprisingly large names.
This is something of a step-change for Newport Beach, as the show has been considered a local show where Californian audiophiles and dealers meet. New product launches were never on the radar. In fact, it actually makes sense to roll out product launches this way: new audio products are frequently lost in the noise of CES, and Munich has now become the centre of all things audio, to the point where your new product launch might not get the coverage it needs or deserves simply due to overload. So, a smaller show with decent attendance figures might be the best place to get the word out about the latest products.
Here are the new highlights at Newport…
Constellation Audio’s Irv Gross modelling the new $40,000 Constellation Centaur II Stereo power amplifier, in a great sounding room with GiK Acoustics room treatment, Von Schweikert VR55 loudspeakers and Critical Mass Systems equipment support.
The show was the first public outing for EAR’s new Acute combined CD/DAC, the very new Helius Alexia turntable and the new Marten Mingus Quartet loudspeaker, all of which sounded extremely good.
Wei Chang of ENIGMAcoustics was showing off a prototype of the company’s upcoming omnidirectional electrostatic supertweeter, which should be available at the end of the year. Price and name to be confirmed.
Vying for the top spot of the most important launch at the show, Meridian’s new Ultra Digital to Analogue Converter is the company’s new flagship DAC, and one designed for separates systems as well as 800 Series products. Of course, it plays MQA files but also is Meridian’s first ever digital component to support DSD!
The other star launch of the show was the new Revel Concerto range, demonstrated with glee by the beaming Kevin Voecks of Revel. He had good reason to be proud of the new range, this white tower loudspeaker was making some of the best sounds at the show and yet cost under $2,000. Put another way; that’s less than the cost of fuses in some systems!
Hopefully, more brands will see these smaller satellite shows as viable places to roll out their new product launches. This was a fun show and well worth attending, but a sprinkling of new products everyone gets to see first is fun too!
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