In CES 2008, SoundStageAV.com's Jimmy Saxon reviews the E-100 Power Amplifier:
Salsa on steroids
The best surprise at CES was the
Renaissance Audio Group room, where they were playing salsa music. I never expected to feel the pulse of
Latin Americain the Venetian’s calm setting. Having spent New Year’s Eve listening to a Cuban jazz band, I was
stunned by how sharply Renaissance’s two-way Prelude speakers ($2195/pair) reproduced the starts and stops of Latin
rhythms. There were two reasons for the incredibly lively sound.
First, the Prelude’s drivers are among the best
in class. Until three years ago, Renaissance was part of Morel Acoustics USA, which has over three decades of experience in
the manufacturing of speaker drivers. The Prelude’s transmission-line enclosure is tuned to derive tight bass from a
6.5" paper-cone midbass driver with a double magnet. The triple-magnet tweeter sounded as extended as most of the rare-metal
drivers presently in vogue, yet sweeter.
The second ingredient was unique amplification from a company called Heavenly
Sound. Their E-100 amplifier (400Wpc, $1195) is an "internal active crossover biamping (IACB)" device that
enables the user to biamp a system without bypassing the speakers’ internal crossovers. My experience with active crossovers
has been mixed. Thrilling dynamics are offset by a slight veiling from added electronics in the signal path. However, connecting
an amplifier straight to a driver’s input should allay any vestiges of veiling. Certainly, the lyrics of "Bésame
Mama" were clearer than I have ever heard them in my own home. The Muse Audio Polyhymnia CD player ($6000)
no doubt contributed to the clarity, as must have the $480 worth of cables. For allowing me a moment of foot-tapping glee,
the Heavenly Sound E-100 wins a special Jimmy Award for Most Exciting Amplifier Design in Show, and the Renaissance
Audio Group’s Prelude for Best "Active" Loudspeaker in Show.
CES, the two E-100s were ordinary two-channel amplifiers, they did not have "internal active crossover biamping (IACB)"
(Renaissance's two-way Prelude speakers only had one set of posts, bi-amping cannot be used here). It is mentioned in the
CES equipment data that the E-100 can be built with crossover for better sound quality, though the ones at CES 2008 were not.
can find more pictures of the CES 2008 exhibition gallery 29-215 at Renaissance Audio Group. The photo photographer also left a quite funny sentence "OK, I know what you are thinking. But music did come out of
those boxes and it didn't sound as bad as some other systems here."