After listening to multi-thousand buck systems in nearly every room during the NYAS, the Audioengine room was a friendly reminder that great sound can be had without spending huge sums of money. In my first time hearing the powered Audioengine A2s ($199/pair), I fell for their appreciative sense of space and tone-full textures. Whether it was Andrea Bocelli or No Doubt, the Audioengines pumped the music with power and yet treated it with respect.
Although their designer Hanz Deutsch has spent the past ten years making pianos, he’s spent the past forty building loudspeakers. As trained opera singer and sound engineer, Brodmann brings the philosophies of instrument design to his loudspeakers. The speakers had a lively quality rich in harmonics. As the bow bounced off the strings of a violin, the Brodmanns recreated the reverberations as if next to the violin’s chamber. At the show, the company displayed their Jospeh Brodmann Concert Series ($39,900/pair), the Vienna Class Series ($24,900/pair), and Festival Series ($4500/pair), as pictured above from right to left.
There it was again, that damned canned jazz. This time it poured out in buckets from the tremendous Spendor Classic SP100R2 loudspeaker ($11,500/pair) pumped by the 160 Watt JA 200 Monoblocks from Jadis ($25,995/pair). This had to be stopped.
In an effort to control crowds, build anticipation, and give each listener a comfortable chance at the MBL experience, MBL and partnering dealer Sensorium AV provided twenty tickets to each of their hourly shows. MBL upped the ante this year with a multi-channel demonstration.
There was certainly a lot of hype surrounding the room: the long lines waiting to get in the demo, the even longer lines waiting for tickets, and the crushing riffs of Rush’s “YYZ” emanating out into the hallway. Attendees strolled out of the room giggling and carrying gift bags. While all the other rooms at this hi-fi show were the same walk-in, knock on the speakers, and walk-out ordeal, MBL and Sensorium AV wanted to make this an experience to remember.
These $3000 ear-speakers manufactured by the German division of Quad sure do look funny, but they made serious sound in the Headzone room. The Float-QA Headphones flanked gently down my temples and reproduced a carefree and natural delivery full of concert-hall realism. They require the accompanying Float QA-PSU to operate, and fit can be adjusted via a loose head strap. Though they felt a bit wobbly, I’m sure in a stable home setting, these things could easily let you drift away.
On the wild and wacky social news and entertainment website reddit, there exists a subforum of curious, experienced, less-than experienced, and mostly kindly audiophiles who share pictures, experiences, and knowledge about their hi-fi adventures. Reddit meetups are a part of reddit culture, and prior to the show, we had big plans for this Saturday get together to take place at the Palace hotel lobby: a meet and greet, an epic photograph, and fried chicken! Apparently, not showing up for reddit meetups is also part of reddit culture.
Many attendees at the New York Audio Show 2013 were afraid to admit they were audiophiles, opting for complicated explanations about their passion for music. Yet, what is just so scary about being an audiophile? I walked around asking folks the next day, "What is an audiophile?" in hopes to discover just what it meant.
I saw her first in the Clue room. She exited at the same time as random bald man #72. Were they together? I’m not sure, but the dangerously punchy sound was not helping my listening fatigue. I left. She walked into the Audio Doctor’s KEF Blade display. Should I follow her? That would be weird.
A gentleman from Music First Audio started talking to me and pointing at my camera: “We have a colorful preamp for you to take pictures of.”
Mat Weisfield was ultra-stoked to tell me about VPI's new 3D-printed tonearm. I'll let Art do the explaining, but when I heard the VPI room, images were rock solid and full-bodied through the 3D printed tonearm and nascent VPI Classic Direct. A turntable created out of happenstance, when the chassis for the planned direct-drive Vanquish was not ready for the show, they stuck the Vanquish parts into a Classic chassis and the VPI Classic Direct (approximately $20-25k) was born. Resourceful, those VPI fellas.
This year, the surprising lack of SRV (and overabundance of easy listening) made me glad to hear his perennial cover of “Little Wing” through Sony’s new and more “affordable” SS-NA2ES floorstanding loudspeakers ($10,000/pair) through Pass Labs amplification. Last year’s system impressed me thoroughly, striking a balance between romance and detail. This year’s system favored speed and attack accenting flourishes I had never heard before in SRV’s Hendrix cover but sounding a bit cool on “Breaking Silence” by Janice Ian.