Leonid Korostyshevski, who hails from Saratov Russia and has written for the Stereophile web site in the past, checks out headphones and some music. When asked what he liked best about the show, Leonid said "everything."
One of the great demos at the show is a comparison between two identical systems and rooms, with one major difference: one has been treated with Real Traps and RPG acoustic treatment products and one left au natural. The display was hosted by dealer Ultimate Audio Video and acoustics consultants Rives Audio and the difference was not subtle. As Stephen pointed out, the treated room was much easier to listen to, with a more open soundstage and less confused imaging. Rives Audio treated the room with RPG's products and Real Traps Corner Mondo Traps and Tri-Corner Bass Traps. Richard Rives Bird commented that after being set up, both rooms were within 3dB of flat in the bottom end, so the company's PARC equalizer was not even needed.
Speaker manufacturer Lipinski Sound was on hand with their surround demo and a new product: The 3601 Powered Stand. Each 3601 sports a two channel amp that can be bridged to be used as a 600 watt monoblock, or set to biamp either a 505 or 707 speaker. Lukas Lipinski says that the powered stands can also be used with other speakers, and have been referenced against other well-known amps. Price is $2,595 each. A quick demo with several types of music proved impressive, even in the confines of a hotel room.
Bob Reina stopped me in the halls and asked, "Have you heard the water-cooled triodes?" Huh? Turns out the $59,000/pair Von Gaylord Audio Uni Signature Editions monoblock power amplifiers use exterior transmission-grade tubes submerged in an oil coolant, I presume and you can really see the thermal motion of the coolant, so I'm guessing the tubes run hot.
Front-end in the Lamm room, with a system featuring Lamm tubed electronics driving Wilson Sophia 2 speakers, was this gorgeous turntable from French company Metronome, the Gaia, fitted with a Graham Phantom tonearm and a Lyra Titan cartridge.
No, that's not a hearing aid growing out of Michael Fremer's pinna—he's the official HE2006 spokesperson, so he has to keep his phone on 24/7. HE says he hasn't heard any truly balanced stereo soundstaging yet, for some reason.
I heard some truly excellent-sounding systems at HE 2006, but if I had to pick one listening experience at the show that transcended all others, it would have to be Kimber’s IsoMike demonstration. The system itself is described by Wes Phillips in another blog entry, and I’m sure it would have sounded very good playing back normal CDs, but what made the sound more closely approach reality was that the source material consisted of four-channel recordings made by Ray Kimber using his IsoMike setup. (Ray is shown here holding a scale model of his IsoMike baffle.) I’ve been often disappointed with multichannel music playback, but this was completely convincing. The voices and instruments present in the room in a way that was at times spooky. Wes was right: Ray Kimber should be King of the Universe.
Wes Phillips went gaga over the Moscode HR410 amplifier in the current (June) issue of Stereophile and at HE2006, I was equally impressed by the amplifier driving Joseph RM25XL Special Edition speakers ($4199/pair). Source was a Yamaha SACD player and a Placette Active Line Stage. I listened to SACDs of a Mahler symphony (from the Michael Tilson-Thomas cycle with the SFSO) and "Swing Live" on Chesky (for which I had been present at the sessions) and the sound was vivid without being over-hyped. Moscode's Gage Rommel showed me a mockup of the forthcoming Moscode preamplifier. This is still having its feature set argued over, including whether it should have a Bluetooth link with the remote so an LCD screen on the latter could mirror the preamp's front-panel display.
The Moscode 401HR driving the Joseph Audio RM25si loudspeakers were sounding mighty fine. I actually thought they had more moxy than most really expensive systems I heard at the Show, particularly with acoustic music, such as Alison Krauss and Union Station. The top end really sparkled in a most believable way.
HE2006 had DJs Ming & FS, the Los Angeles Guitar Quartet and jazz from the Anthony Wilson Nonet, alto saxophonist, Zane Musa, John Heard and Company on Friday; jazz from guitarist Chris Standring and singer Melora Hardin, along with the incomparable Dr. John doing his Dr. John thing on Saturday; and my own trio doing jazz on Sunday. But classical music enthusiasts were not forgotten at the Show: Sunday saw the Arroyo String Quartet, joined by soprano Kathleen Winters for Mozart's sublime Exultate Jubilate, perform a fine set. A treat for the ears!