Simaudio, Dynaudio, and more
Also doing a wonderful job were Simaudio's two-chassis 850P line stage ($30,000) and 880M monoblocks ($45,000/pair), Dynaudio Evidence Platinum loudspeakers ($85,000/pair), Harmonic Resolution Systems SXR rack and amp stands, and Kubala-Sosna Emotion cabling.
But since my focus was digital rather than analog, we quickly switched sources to Simaudio's Moon 180 MiND (Moon intelligent Network Device) Network player ($1300, not pictured). The midrange sounded beautiful on everything we listened to, but the top was a little crisp for my taste. On a Red Book track by Fleetwood Mac, for example, I marveled at the huge layered soundstage, layered presentation, and full-range sound that went from deep, slightly powdery bass to crisp highs. Another track by The Doors in 24/96 reinforced my experience of a tremendous soundstage, superb midrange, moderately edgy highs, and powdery bass.
It's not what I had expected from equipment I've not previously experienced as bright. So, a day later, I returned to the room. After further listens to Daft Punk's "Get Lucky" and a track from Jennifer Warnes' Famous Blue Raincoat, both of which conveyed the true beauty of the system's midrange, I had a talk with Simaudio's Lionel Goodfield about possible room interactions. Lionel explained that they had found the 12' high ceilinged room impossibly bright and prone to major echo. After many hours of experimentation, they opted for really thick black drapes, an unusual firing angle for the speakers, and ASC Tube Traps to tone things down on top. But despite everything they did, I'm afraid they couldn't totally come to term with the room.
As you'll read from several discussions of room sound in subsequent stories from AXPONA, it's clear that when exhibitors return to the Westin O'Hare next year on the last weekend of April, they'll be better prepared to address the room anomalies that are peculiar to every show I've attended in a hotel environment.