CES 2016 Wrap-Up, Part 2: The Road Less Traveled

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“A plane will go down from an errant drone flying into an engine or crack the glass on the cockpit window,” he added. “Or perhaps when a drone falls on a crowded road and causes a multi-car crash. The most serious issue is how easily they can be used for terrorism. These drones, and I am including the ‘toy’ drones, can carry a payload now—what? All in all, it is my opinion that drones will be outlawed in the very near future. Only professional drones flown by professional drone pilots, duly registered and licensed, much like all aircraft, will be allowed to fly.”

So, even though it could mean a decrease in sales volume, I believe that Greenfeld summarized the issue honestly and accurately.

(editor note: See Airbus' counter-UAV news here.)

Next, I decided to explore more of the offerings in this very different world of hotel suites. I wandered through a number of the focused micro-exhibit halls. I discovered a plethora of products, some from companies specializing in high-end cables and connectors, some on high-end audio components, high-end computer parts, high-end routers, or high-end tools. But the common denominator in the suites seemed to be “high end.” Why were these being demonstrated in the suites?

It seems that many companies have retreated to hotel suites. It’s cheaper and less hassle for them, and a focused way to concentrate on a narrow product offering; it’s also a great way to show off the Utopian properties of, say, a $7,500 pair of very high-end speakers or a custom series of $300 keyboards. Yes, it is a pain for those of us trying to see as many exhibitors as possible, but I found the extra effort well worth it.

sourcesystems2.jpgOne such suite I visited was a new distributorship located in my home area of Orange County, California. Source Systems Ltd. was founded in the last few years by a former TEAC executive, Mark Gurvey, and his wife and son. They specialize in extremely high-end audio, and when I say extremely high-end, I am not kidding. In fact, the truly amazing, clear, live-sounding music I heard was coming from a pair of the aforementioned $7,500 (per pair) speakers.

I asked Gurvey to show me what they were using to get such perfect sound. It seems that they specialize in taking any source of digital audio and converting it into the warm, natural analog sound that, if you close your eyes, makes you believe you are at a live performance.

Now, I consider myself to be a techie. I build my own computers, I got my ham radio license at 12 years old, and I always feel like I know this stuff. But Gurvey absolutely blew me away with his knowledge and passion for very high-end audio. I learned all about about why you should replace wall wart power supplies, the capabilities of certain types of cables vs. others, and I learned the optimum way to convert any digital output into optimum, amazingly high-quality analog audio. The next time I decide to upgrade any audio system I am calling Gurvey.

sourcesystems.jpgThe product offerings by Source Systems appear to be the very best the world has to offer in each category; they are the very top of the line in each category, no matter where in the world they are made. For example, the speakers they offer are made by the French company Apertura. The prices range from $2,500 per pair up to $26,000 per pair. The Lumin Network music players are from Pixel in Hong Kong. The Wells Audio amplifiers hail from Campbell, California, and they’re a steal at only $3,500.

My point is that this is not where you would want to go if you want just a decent-sounding system at a reasonable price; this is where you want to go if you want an amazing system, something most people have never heard, and are willing to pay for it. You do not have to pay in the tens or even hundreds of thousands of dollars, although Mark did tell me he had configured systems in that stratospheric range. But if you want to know what the high-end standard is, no matter your price point, this is a great place to start and learn and listen.

So, my point is that CES features thousands of booths, many of them loaded with knock-off iPhone cases, cheapie headphones, and Wi-Fi connected toothbrushes. CES also has many upcoming technologies such as 3D printing, robotics, and the fast approaching autonomous automobile.

Product_BlasterX_P5_2.jpgAnd if you look in some of the less obvious places, there are some truly amazing, very high-end products being offered by some very knowledge people who are more than willing to educate you, at a level that you may not even have been aware existed.

Next year at CES, I plan to spend one full day browsing the out-of-the-way suites, which are very much worth exploring. See you next year.



CES Wrap-Up, Part 1

CES 2016: Press Day, Showstoppers and LaunchIt Event

CES: Day One

CES 2016: A Preview and a Prediction for the Future





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