Maestro Please, May I Hear Another?
I always seek out Wilson Audio's room at the HE shows. Is it because Wilson always gets great sound? It does—but, as the big dog on the block, they probably don't have to attend. The company supports the high-end community, not just by showing up, but by sending Peter McGrath and his fabulous recordings.
McGrath is one of the busiest live recording engineers in the country—I've been listening to his stuff with pleasure, dating back to his classic Leonard Shure, David Bar-Illan, and Earl Wild recordings on Audiofon in the early 1980s. But when he comes to the HE shows, he always brings high-rez recordings so fresh that the echoes probably haven't died in the concert halls yet.
At the Hyatt, Peter plugged his Sound Devices hard-disk recorder into a prototype DAC from BAT and played recordings of Evgeny Kissin and Renée Fleming less than one week old—and they were fabulous. And, because McGrath doesn't edit all the life and juice out of the performances, you hear real music making, with artists taking chances—yes, sometimes you hear mistakes, but when they soar, it's thrilling.
Does it show off Wilson's speakers, like the Series 8 WATT/Puppies in the HE2007 room? Heck yes—but attending shows is expensive and one heck of a lot of work. Many high-end companies opt out of the process for those reasons, leaving enthusiasts unable to experience the products that excite them when we write about them in the magazine. That may be a justifiable business decision, but it does let down audiophiles who frequently travel great distances to experience all of the High End at these affairs.
So thank you Wilson Audio Specialties, not just for showing up, but for sending your best.