The Consumer Electronics Show is all about putting your best foot forward and showing the industry what your company is capable of achieving. As a result, you see some pretty spectacular systems. While nothing quite trumped the Trenner & Friedl Duke/Rowland Research room, a few megasystems came quite close.
This system is from the German company Burmester, and their gear is famous for being very beautiful and ornate (more Italian than German in style). They're also known for being quite expensive. This state-of-the-art system included most of their premium line, and it sounded magnificent. For me, the Burmester sound is very meticulous and detailed and revealing. If you're looking for lush and romantic, look elsewhere.
Speaking of lush and romantic, the megasystem is from Kondo Audio Note and featured the legendary Ongaku amplifier, their new and quite massive turntable and a beautiful set of field coil loudspeakers. In the past, I've been frustrated by the inconsistency in the Audio Note setups at various audio shows...it's either the best sound I've ever heard or the worst. This time it was the former, and I was hypnotized by the gorgeous, fluid sound.
The system is from YG Acoustics. YG caught some flack in the audio press a couple of years ago for announcing in their print ads that their speakers were the absolutely best in the world. After a couple of years, however, people are starting to recognize that these huge aluminum speakers do offer a rarified level of performance. Even though this system was located in one of the big rooms downstairs at the Venetian (where the high ceilings are huge obstacles to achieving great sound), this system really sounded great and captured my undivided attention for quite a while.
One more system offered what I felt was first-class sound...the Wilson and Lamm room. Wilson speakers are not really my cup of tea since I prefer a slightly warm and romantic presentation. Wilson speakers are extremely revealing and often sound a little too relentless to my ears. Lamm amplifiers, however are a different story. I've never heard a Lamm-based system I didn't love, and this time was no exception. The Wilson Alexandria speakers were utterly captivating with the tubed Lamms, so this was easily the best sound I've ever heard from Wilson period.