Gradient, Amarra, and more
On the fourth floor of THE Show, Tim Ryan of Simpli-Fi was demming the Gradient Helsinki 5.1 loudspeaker ($6500/pair, down from $8000 a year ago). This weird-looking loudspeaker produces anything but weird sound. Designed to avoid reflections from the sidewalls and floor, it has 85dB sensitivity, a nominal 6 ohm impedance, and a frequency range of 200Hz20kHz.
Also making music was a Mac mini set-up that used Sonic Studio's unquestionably superior sounding Amarra music serversee Jon Iverson's reportwhich was a major improvement over straight iTunes playback, and a Resolution Audio power system ($6000) that includes a CD player and integrated amp.
Although the room was not very hospitable to the Gradient Helsinki 5.1, the system reproduced an amazing sense of space that was unlike most everything else I heard during my four days in Las Vegas. With a recording of Beethoven's Violin Concerto, the violin literally seemed to hang in space, even in the nearfield. Especially notable is that this speaker's image continues to cohere whether you sit or stand. Definitely a baby to explore further.
My regrets for not having the time to explore the goodies from Harbeth and other companies that were also on display in this room.