Finally, after encountering Israel Blume and his wife in the gym at several shows, I got a change to hear the Coincident speakers and electronics that have garnered so much praise in multiple publications. Although I may not have heard the system at its besta discussion with Israel during a serious morning workout revealed that his tube sound was fluctuating from clear to soft, depending upon where the Hilton’s voltage was at any particular momentI found the sound a bit warm and opaque, but remarkably extended on the low end.
Induction Dynamics of Overland Park, KS was showing its S1.8T 3-way tower loudspeaker ($13,500/pair). Using as a source an Oppo 85SE, paired with McIntosh’s MX150 pre/pro, MC 207 amplifier, and MT10 turntable, and wired with Kimber Kable, the system sounded far more neutral than I was expecting. Playing an LP of Billie Holiday singing “A Foggy Day in London Town” (Songs for Distingué Lovers), I marveled at the beauty, clarity, and warmth of the sound. Like a proverbial Dorothy searching for her Toto, I didn’t want to leave home without it.
RSL, the reincarnation of California speaker manufacturer Rogersound Labs, was showing its economical CG stereo system ($1250 with free shipping, stands optional). The system was making bearable a 24/96 file of Diana Krall singing “S’Wonderful.” Usually this particular selection has me crawling out of my skin. No mean feat that it didn’t this time. The system includes a single subwoofer that was hidden behind me. The good news is that the speaker system comes with a 30-day money-back guarantee.
The Hegel room on the Irvine Hilton’s 5th floor was so packed that I was initially forced to sit outside the soundstage. While I feared that would leave me in no position to critically evaluate the system’s overall gestalt, eventually moving to the center enabled me to hear how solid the sound was.
In a handsomely equipped room that showcased the dual-mono lithium battery-powered Veloce LS-1 linestage ($18,000), Veloce V6 400Wpc monoblock amplifiers ($15,000/pair) with their tube input and class-D output stage, YG Acoustics Carmel loudspeakers ($18,000/pair), none-too-shabby Audio Aero “La Source” CD/SACD player (approx. $40,000), and Kubala-Sosna’s Emotion and Elation cabling (no price supplied), I initially thought the sound a tad dry. But then I warmed to the remarkably clear and unencumbered presentation of jazz, which was also distinguished by engaging three-dimensionality. On tracks by Tommy Flanagan and Holly Cole, I found the transparency remarkable, and greatly enjoyed the height and space of the images.
Here’s a look inside Human Audio’s Muto battery-powered DAC ($1299), handmade in Hungary. The Muto is compatible with resolutions up to 24-bit/192kHz, has selectable S/PDIF inputs (RCA and BNC), has a fully discrete analog output stage with bipolar and JFET transistors, and employs two Lithium-Iron-Phosphate (LiFePO4) batteries capable of at least 12 hours of “green” operation. When the Muto is switched off, the batteries automatically recharge.
Parasound’s compact, high-value Z Series includes the 45Wpc Zamp power amplifier, four-input Zpre2 two-channel preamp, Ztuner AM/FM tuner, Zphono-USB phono preamp ($350; reviewed in our March issue), and the impressive Zcd CD player ($399; review to come later this year).
An editor’s job isn’t always light and easy, but not every moment during Saturday’s hour-long panel (repeated on Sunday) was. Yours truly, who could only stay long enough to snap a few photos, listened closely as John Atkinson spoke about what he wants and does not want from his equipment reviewers. Pictured, left to right: Dave Clark and David Robinson, Positive Feedback Online; JA and Michael Fremer, Stereophile; Robert Harley, Paul Seydor, and Neil Gader, The Absolute Sound.
Back at the Atrium, T.H.E. Marketplace was home to Audeze headphones, Eddie Current headphone amplifiers, Elusive Disc, Impex Records, Kim Wilson Photography, May Audio, and Music Direct. Here we see Music Direct’s Besflores Nievera, Jr., happily manning the vinyl. I get up, and nothing gets me down.