"Joseph and Cardas must be stopped! Don’t let them win best sound again! Give someone else a chance!" That was the bit of tongue-in-cheek "reverse psychology" stated on buttons handed out by Jeff Joseph. The upgraded speakers at the show were the RM7XL ($2299/pair) and the RM22XL ($3199/pair).
Gamut makes everything from source components to loudspeakers, so the Gamut room really was the Gamut room. Lars Goller designed the $14,800/pair l-7 three-way floorstanders and I was knocked out by how relaxed and natural acoustic music sounded though them. They looked fabulous, too.
I'm a guy who loves traditions: I attribute it to growing up in Virginia, a state that reveres tradition, my wife claims it's just OCD. Whatever—I have made it a tradition at every HE Show I can remember to visit Luke Manley's VTL room at the last minute on the last day because it always lets me leave on a high note. Manley did not disappoint this year in the room he shared with dealer Brooks Berdan, the "king of analog."
Ping Gong, AAA Audio's energetic director, shyly told me he had brought "something special" to the show. Knowing AAA's penchant for high-value, low-cost hi-fi, I expected something modest, but impressive. What he had brought was just flat-out impressive.
Also in the Belkin room, I had the pleasure of chatting with Dr. Bruce Edgar who had furnished the room with his Edgarhorn Titan II loudspeakers ($16,000). Dr. Edgar is an experimental physicist. And also a mind reader. I sat beside him, facing the system with its outrageous array of silvery PureAV interconnects and speaker cables jutting out like all sorts of tentacles and arms and legs, thinking: "Any other cables would make this system look ugly," when Dr. Edgar said to me: "Any other cables would make this system look ugly, don't you think?"
Wasn't she just in the background of John and Stephen's picture? We posed her next to the Los Angeles Guitar Quartet's Spin and she really lit up. It's an impressive sounding SACD—and the group is playing at HE2006 tomorrow. Did I mention the concert was free?
Guitarist Anthony Wilson, whose new album with his 9-piece band, "The Power of Nine" was featured in the May Stereophile, turned in a blistering set of hard-blowing jazz Friday afternoon at Home Entertainment 2006, courtesy of AudioQuest, Audio Research, and Vandersteen.
Direct-marketer Aperion Audio was demonstrating its new $750/pair 533-T tower loudspeaker, built around two 5.25" mid/bass drivers and a 1" silk-dome tweeter. Aperion's cabinets employ 1" MDF and internal bracing, so they're extremely rigid. Aperion not only offers 30-day in-home auditions, but they pay return shipping if you choose not to buy—and they even offer a one year trade-up policy that refunds 100% of the cost of a speaker if you buy a better speaker from them.
Over at the other end of the Nagra/Verity Audio/Silversmith/Sonic Euphoria room, there was a far more modest system set up: Ayre C-5xe universal player, Sonic Euphoria PLC ($1295), Audio Silver Night Mk.III monoblocks ($9300/pair, 18Wpc), and Verity Fidelity Encore loudspeakers ($11,994/pair), all connected by Silversmith's silver cables.
Music Direct was showing off two new turntables in the Avid line: the $4500 Volvere and the $7500 Sequel. The Volvere was developed by using the flagship model Acutus as its prototype and removing or downsizing only those elements that had the least effect on sound quality. Like the Acutus, the Volvere has adjustable suspension, adjustable horizontal damping, and a motor mount that keeps the subchassis and platter from dancing closer and further apart from one another(a common problem with many sprung subchassis models).