In the LessLoss Audio room, a gorgeous couple of Kaiser Vivace loudspeakers painted in a Lamborghini Orange finish ($42,500 in painted semi-gloss, add $2500 for the Lambo paint job) paired with electronics from Beyond Frontiers Audio, including their Tulip Tube DAC converter, which runs in a dual mono state with 2 Burr Brown chips, and the Tulip Stereo Integrated amplifier. Tulip, in the designer’s former country of Yugoslavia, is a friendly name for a “good old guy”. Cabling and “ambient field conditioning” in this room were provided by LessLoss, who offered their Anchorwave cables and Blackbody ambient field conditioner. The Blackbody claims to “enhance audio playback quality by modifying the interaction of your gear’s circuitry with the ambient electromagnetic field.”
The "Beyond Frontiers" refers to the fact that the company's designer was responsible for some of the well-respected Sonic Frontiers products from a decade ago. This is the Beyond Frontiers tubed balanced D/A processor, which was being used as the source in the LessLoss room.
Ask the Editors, Round Two on day three of the New York Audio & AV show was decidedly more laid back than Ask the Editors, Round One possibly because there were less panelists clamoring over a single microphone. In fact, I’m not even sure if the microphone was used this time around, since everyone could hear each other clearly in the room.
I moderated two "Ask the Editors" sessions at the NY Show, where reviewers and editors were put on the spot by probing questions from the audience. My thanks to (from left to right): Alan Sircom (HiFi+, not visible), Stephen Mejias (Stereophile), Jeff Dorgay (ToneAudio), Alan Taffel (The Absolute Sound), Michael Fremer (Stereophile and AnalogPlanet.com), Grant Clauser (Electronic House), and Art Dudley (Stereophile and Fretboard Journal) for their often frank and always informative answers.
"I Want to Take You Higherthe Present and Future of Digital Music Delivery and Playback" was the title of a workshop chaired by Michael Lavorgna (right), editor of Stereophile's sister site AudioStream.com. Michael's panel included (from left to right), Andreas Koch (Playback Designs), Larry Ho (Light Harmonic), Rob Robinson (Channel D/Pure Vinyl/Pure Music), and David Chesky (HDTracks). The hour-long session dispelled much of the technofear surrounding the subject of how to turn a PC or Mac into a true high-end music source.
Was how this Stereophile-sponsored event Saturday and Sunday afternoons was billed. Mikey demonstrated to a packed house how straightforward it is to optimize the performance of an LP player. Close-ups of his work on a VPI turntable fitted with a Soundsmith cartridge were projected on to a screen so all could see what he was doing and why.
With a sly smile and a little wink, Bill Leebens suggested that I check out Amber Rubarth’s Saturday afternoon set. “She’s stunning,” he said, or something like that. When Bill makes a suggestion, it’s a good idea to follow it, so there I was at 4pm, listening as Rubarth joked that she can only write when she’s sad, and then made us all smile as she sang about happiness and love.
Friday night at the NY Audio & AV Show, Stereophile sponsored a concert featuring Attention Screen, the jazz quartet led by reviewer Bob Reina (right). In the four improvisations lasting almost an hour, covering musical genres that ranged from the blues through space music to salsa, Bob had a blast playing a rather nice Steinway piano. Drummer Mark Flynn provided some of the most intelligent percussion I have heard, playing in lock step with bassist Chris Jones, yet taking risks that propelled the music forward, outward, and upward. The Steinway was provided by Peter Becker, of NYC dealer Klavierhaus. It was brought in specifically for the show and sponsored by the ever-generous Robin Wyatt of Robyatt Audio, who also sponsored the Elio Villafranca concert.
The Sony SS-AR2 loudspeakers, described here by JA, were one of my many favorites at the show. Their soundstage extended deep, all the way to 42nd street, and they performed with warmth and polite resolution of high-end frequencies. Some said it was too mellow, but to me it sounded just right. Pictured above are Jonathan Lin and Carlos Giraldo from Sony posing with the SS-AR1 enclosure, reviewed in Stereophile last July.
Sony Electronics launched their new SS-AR2 loudspeaker ($20,000/pair), seen here with the X600.5 mono amplifiers from Pass Labs. The SS-AR2 is a three-way, four-driver floorstander that’s crafted from select Japanese maple laminate (the front baffle) and Finnish birch plywood (the remainder of the cabinet). Twin aluminum-cone woofers are said to extend bass response down to 42Hz.
Sony’s Motoyuki (Yuki) Sugiura adjusts the volume on the Pass Labs preamp. Although the room was a bit too big for the SS-AR2s, the top-octave balance of the 1" soft-dome tweeter being optimized for a smaller acoustic space, these $20,000/pair speakers, derived from the SS-AR1 that so impressed Kalman Rubinson last July, produced one of the best sounds I heard at the 2012 NY Show. Despite the mellow balance, there was a wealth of recorded detail to be heard, with a huge, stable soundstage. Commendably for a speaker with a modest footprint, the sound didn't appreciably harden at high levels. I will be reviewing the SS-AR2 in the November issue of Stereophile.
After years of exchanging e-mails with Music First’s Harry O’Sullivan, seen here holding his Baby Reference Preamp ($7900), it was a pleasure to finally meet him. My instincts were right: Harry is a cool dude. We chatted about music, gear, New York City, and, of course, beer. As Ariel mentioned, at refreshingly low volumes, the sound in this room was particularly relaxed and inviting, marked by good rhythmic snap and lovely detail and tone. It’s shocking how big a soundstage can be thrown by the little Rogers LS3/5A loudspeakers! We listened to Lou Reed’s “Walk on the Wild Side,” which seemed somewhat appropriate, as this was Harry’s first time visiting Manhattan.