I was intrigued by the new MartinLogan Dynamo 1500X subwoofer ($1595), but even more so in a relatively humble accessory that M-L offers to buyers of their current subwoofers: the Perfect Bass Kit or PBK ($100), comprising a stand plus a USB microphone, the latter to connect between your woofer and your PC in order to optimize positioning and setup.
As a long-term owner of Audio Note AN-E/SPe HE loudspeakers ($9300/pair), I was unsurprisingly pleased to see and hear that model being used at the New York show, where both analog and digital sources drove an M3 Phono preamp ($10,750) and the lovely single-ended 211 Tomei Kinsei amplifier ($58,000), with all Audio Note cabling. While I was there, Audio Note's Dave Cope turned me on to the debut LP, Is Your Love Big Enough?, by the English singer and (very gifted) guitarist Lianne La Havas: a varied and colorful album that also happened to exploit the system's exceptional sense of touch. (Also in typical AN fashion, I found that the same superb musical qualities were evident regardless of where in the room I chose to sit.)
Robert Lighton, a noted furniture designer, also runs an appointment-only shop in Manhattan where he sells the products of Audio Note UK, along with the Audio Note-inspired RL-10 loudspeaker ($25,000/pair) that he designed himself. Perhaps more important, as Ariel Bitran has pointed out, Robert Lighton plays good music. Great music. LPs I heard at his NYAS room included Isaac Hayes' Live at the Sahara Tahoe, Nancy Wilson/Cannonball Adderley, and the Shirley Horn Trio's Travelin' Light. I need them all! Thank you, Robert, for playing what I considered the best music of NYAS 2013.
Ariel Bitran is better than I when it comes to photographing shiny, black loudspeakers in rooms with less than generous lighting. Consequently, although I enjoyed the music I heard at the second of two GTT Audio rooms from YG Acoustic Kipod II loudspeakers ($38,800/pair), I succeeded in photographing only the Veloce Saetta monoblock amplifiers ($18,000/pair) that were used to drive them. No loss there: The always interesting Veloce electronicswhich, for this demonstration, included their LS-1 line-level preamplifier ($18,000)represent some very cool technology. Both the tubed (6H30) preamp and the hybrid (tubed input, solid-state output, 400Wpc) amps are battery powered, offering 40-hour listening sessions on a single charge and an estimated battery life of 10 years. A digital file of Hugh Masekela, played from a Luxman DA06 D/A converter ($6000), sounded both open and colorful, and a recording of the Saint-Saens Danse Macabre (orchestra and conductor unknown) had me thinking more about music than gear by the time I had to leave the room.
In one of two rooms sponsored by New Jersey dealer GTT Audio, YG Acoustics' entry-level loudspeaker, the slim-and-sturdy Carmel ($18,000/pair), was demonstrated with a 125Wpc Model 530 integrated amplifier ($49,000) and Model 540 CD/SACD player ($32,500) from the Swiss firm Soulution Audio, with cabling by New Jersey's own Kubala-Sosna. Here we see YG's Kerry St. James playing Deejay for a room that, throughout Saturday afternoon, appeared never to have an empty seat.
From left: Sound + Vision's Brent Butterworth, Sanjay Patel of Ciamara and Dave Lalin of the Audio Doctor. A third dealer rep, Tom Altobelli of Woodbridge Stereo, wasn't on hand for this session.
The New York Audio Show was highlighted by several outstanding seminars, providing additional value and even greater joy to a weekend-long event that was already packed with entertainment. I wish I could have attended all of the seminars, but, somewhat sadly, I actually missed most of them. I did, however, make it to the Saturday afternoon session of one well-attended seminar titled “Take the Intimidation out of Buying Audio,” moderated by Sound + Vision’s Brent Butterworth and with representatives from two unique NYC-area dealers: Ciamara’s Sanjay Patel and the Audio Doctor’s Dave Lalin.
When asked why a dealer is necessary to the hi-fi shopping experience, both Patel and Lalin cited their intimate knowledge, not only of individual components and brands, but especially of building complete systems that work well in a number of environments and with a wide range of music.
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.
At the room sponsored by New Jersey dealer CARE Audio, the Allnic T2000 integrated amplifier ($8900), whose tube cages suggest a horizon not unlike that of the Manhattan skyline, drove a pair of MAD Baron loudspeakers ($13,000/pair), itself fed by a Calyx FEMTO D/A converter ($6850) and a Musica Pristina A Cappella server ($6500).
Red Wine Audio of Holden, MA, was the remaining link in the Sound by Singer chain: The aforementioned Bricasti D/A converter was, by means of its own volume control, used to directly drive a pair of Red Wine Liliana monoblock amplifiers ($5995/pair), wherein class-A tubed input stages are mated with class-A/B FET output stages to produce 115Wpc of very sweet-sounding watts. In this pic, Red Wine CEO Vinnie Rossi shows off the innards of his Isabella preamplifier ($3995 without phono-stage option), which uses 6H30 "super tubes," yet also supports all triodes in the 6922 family.
More evidence that the Bricasti Model 1 D/A converter ($8495), while certainly not cheap, represents quite good value for the money was found in one of the rooms sponsored by New York retailer Sound by Singer. During a conversation about a new power-supply upgrade for the Model 1, I asked Bricasti's Brian Zolner if the new board is retrofittable to older Bricasti units, and he assured me that it isfor just $150. [John Marks will discuss the new power supply in a "Follow-Up" to appear in our July issue.Ed.]
One of the most talked-about exhibitions at NYAS 2013and, indeed, one that impressed me more than mostwas by a newish company called Symbol Audio, specializing in heirloom-quality furnishings that are aimed, it must be said, at non-audiophiles possessed of both good jobs and good taste. The centerpiece of Symbol's room was their Modern Record Console, which combines a high-quality record player from Project, a built-in Apple MacMini with a Meridian Explorer D/A converter, a tubed (push-pull EL84s) integrated amplifier by ENG Vista (with source selections for phono, D/A, and WiFi), and a pair of Omega full-range drivers, supplemented with a self-powered, pedestal-mounted subwoofer. All of this is built into drop-dead-gorgeous cabinetry, bench-built in New Jersey from solid black walnut. Price: $26,500, woodchuck not included.
Upon visiting the room of Colleen Cardas Imports, I was impressed by yet another small loudspeaker: the Signature version of the model 1920 mini-monitor ($3450/pair) from British firm MAD (for My Audio Design). The 1920 is described as designer Timothy Jung's take on the classic BBC LS-3/5a theme, and while it didn't sound precisely like that hallowed box, it was pleasing in much the same way when driven by the 65 WpcClass-A Monoblock Reference power amps ($15,500/pair) and Control Preamplifier ($9500) from Pure Audio, a company founded by the previous principals of Plinius. Source components were the Platinum Data CD IV disc transport ($3995) and The Analog D/A converter ($6995) from MSB Technology, while cabling and power-distribution products were by Furutech.
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.”