RMAF 2006

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Jason Victor Serinus Posted: Oct 20, 2006 2 comments
The phrase "save the best for last" rang true for me today. After close to five hours of listening, with ears that were beginning to scream, I heeded the advice of Sound Applications' Jim Weil and headed to the large room at one end of the 9th floor commandeered by Boulder’s Audio Federation. There I encountered the most rewarding sound I have heard at the show so far.
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Jason Victor Serinus Posted: Oct 22, 2006 1 comments
Those are the words that came to me as I began listening to the diminutive set-up in the room sponsored by Acoustic Sounds. As Eric Bibb & Needed Time made beautiful music on their Opus 3 LP, Good Stuff, I gazed at a pair of Manley Labs Snapper Monoblocks ($4250) and Stirling Broadcast LS3/5a V2 Speakers ($1695/pair) sitting on Target Audio MR 28 Speaker stands ($299), as well as a Silver Circle Audio Pure Power One 5.0 power transformer ($5000 with Vesuvius power cord). Interconnects, power cords, and loudspeaker cables were also from Silver Circle Audio.
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Jason Victor Serinus Posted: Oct 22, 2006 3 comments
As mentioned in the introductory post to this blog, Peter "PJay" Smith (above), Bob Cordell, and Darren Kuzma presented gratis "Amplifier and Loudspeaker Listening and Measurement" clinics throughout the show. One of the clinics, which I was unable to attend, interpreted amplifier measurement data supplied by Stereophile's John Atkinson.
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Jason Victor Serinus Posted: Oct 21, 2006 0 comments
I’ve eagerly awaited the opportunity to hear APL Hi-FI’s NOW-2.5, the no-hold-barred, top-of-the line model in their frighteningly named New World Order series of Universal Players. A redesigned Esoteric UX-1, featuring a 6H30 dual-tube output stage, the $21,000 unit threw an exceptionally three-dimensional soundstage mated with the ESP Concert Grand S1 speakers and Shoreline 300 monoblocks. My sense, however, is that the unit is capable of offering far more than what I was able to hear in the Show setting. With the assistance of Alex Peychev’s new Service Manager, Brent Rainwater, I look forward to eventually auditioning the NOW-2.5 in my reference system.
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Jason Victor Serinus Posted: Oct 21, 2006 1 comments
At the advice of Jeff Wilson and Bob Kuehn, two highly discriminating members of the Bay Area Audiophile Society back home, I auditioned a system with truly enviable, openness and three-dimensionality. The combination of the ART Audio Adagio 26Wpc stereo amplifier ($13,000 with the eye-catching canister light), Gill DAC/preamp ($7500), Audio Excellence power supply, Silversmith Platinum cables, Pranawire power cables, and Ars Aures Midi Sensorial speakers ($19,000/pair—where do they come up with these names?) offered a glimpse of the grace and vulnerability rarely exhibited by many of the brutes of the industry. As Karina Gauvin shared a bit of her soul on Canteloube’s Songs of the Auvergne, I basked in the system’s all-enveloping warmth. The Bill Evans track chosen by Lee Landesberg of Landes Imports sounded fabulous. Definitely one of the high points of my Saturday morning at the RMAF.
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Jason Victor Serinus Posted: Oct 23, 2006 0 comments
Fortune found in the fortune cookie that accompanied my evening meal of Chinese take-out: "When in doubt, let your instincts guide you."
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Jason Victor Serinus Posted: Oct 21, 2006 2 comments
Rapidly approaching the staggering state observed among inveterate show attendees on Friday evening, I stumbled upon the debut of Duke Lejeune’s $4000/pair Jazz Modules. Note that the speakers were not intended specifically for jazz; the name came to Duke in a dream as he was preparing to graduate from amateur speaker builder to fledgling audiophile professional. With a claimed sensitvity of 92dB, the speakers extend from the upper 30s to about 17.5kHz. Port tuning is changeable according to listening position. Even with only two days of break-in—the woofers require several hundred hours to sound their best, Duke told me—the speakers threw a huge soundstage, and sounded remarkably full, warm and luscious in the midrange, I felt.
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Jason Victor Serinus Posted: Oct 21, 2006 0 comments
In a room tuned and focused by a fascinating assortment of diminutive Acoustic Resonators, Behold's modular electronics and Ascendo's loudspeakers offered a great sense of air and depth, albeit with an at times oversized sense of proportion on the Reference Recordings Rachmaninoff Symphonic Dances. Ralf Ballmann, designer of the Behold audiophile product line, assures me that the name Behold was not chosen for its biblical connotations. The line was first introduced at CES 2004, and is now distributed by Behold USA of New York. The preamp-to-amp connection is accomplished by a narrow, unobtrusive 50 ohm cable that ranks high for spouse acceptance factor. I’d love to hear this system in larger quarters.
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Jason Victor Serinus Posted: Oct 21, 2006 1 comments
In a room tuned and focused by a fascinating assortment of diminutive Acoustic Resonators, Behold's modular electronics and Ascendo's loudspeakers offered a great sense of air and depth, albeit with an at times oversized sense of proportion on the Reference Recordings Rachmaninoff Symphonic Dances. Ralf Ballmann, designer of the Behold audiophile product line, assures me that the name Behold was not chosen for its biblical connotations. The line was first introduced at CES 2004, and is now distributed by Behold USA of New York. The preamp-to-amp connection is accomplished by a narrow, unobtrusive 50 ohm cable that ranks high for spouse acceptance factor. I’d love to hear this system in larger quarters.
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Jason Victor Serinus Posted: Oct 21, 2006 1 comments
I confess. There’s a special place in my heart for Kara and George of deHavilland. Happily, the sound of their GM-70 amps and Mercury preamp deserves equal praise. Beautiful and mellow on the right music, with a simply lovely core to the sound, deHavilland electronics were sounding quite fine with Wilson Benesch ACT speakers, Audio Aero Prima CD player, Cardas Golden Reference cabling, and Custom Isolation Products. The Torus sub may have been connected, but it was being overly polite. Perhaps the Sonic Fusion speakers paired with deHavilland at T.H.E Show in January 2006 offered richer sound, but there was plenty to love here as well. I’d love to return to this set-up with some decent power conditioning in place.
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Jason Victor Serinus Posted: Oct 23, 2006 2 comments
For some system configurations, hotel rooms present near impossible challenges. Such was the case in one padded cell on the 5th floor of the Marriott Denver Tech Center, where the frustrated purveyors of a modestly priced A/V surround system raided the linen closet in a desperate attempt to tame errant sound. I didn’t have the heart to ask if the reflective surface of the black plastic tape might be making matters worse.
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Jason Victor Serinus Posted: Oct 23, 2006 1 comments
Although it can sometimes seem quite illusive, or only reserved for the chosen few, high-end proof of the proverbial scales of justice surfaced in the last room I was privileged to visit.
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Jason Victor Serinus Posted: Oct 21, 2006 5 comments
I confess. The Ferguson Hill mini horn speaker system from England ($1195), distributed in the US by Ron, Ginny, and Rob Lapporte of Chicago’s Ultimate Audio Video, caught more than my eye. To compare their mellow sound with that of the hideous computer speakers that currently deface my home desktop was enough to make me weep. Instead, I entered their totally random drawing for a pair. Note the separate little woofers. A perfect combination for an iPod or a computer.
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Jason Victor Serinus Posted: Oct 20, 2006 0 comments
Thom Mackris of turntable manufacturer Galibier Design (whose Stelvio costs $12,500) had me smiling when he played a hilarious track by Red Knuckles & the Trailblazers. Although a little raucous on top, the system (Schröder Reference SQ tonearm, perversely entitled ZYX Universe cartridge, Artemis Labs PH-1 phono stage, preproduction Karna push-pull 300B 15W amp from Nutshell Hi Fidelity, and Gran Sfera Horns by Azzolina Audio) offered a compellingly huge, all-enveloping, elevated soundstage coupled to a beautiful midrange.
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Jason Victor Serinus Posted: Oct 22, 2006 0 comments
Mated to MBL electronics via Kubala-Sosna Emotion Series cabling, the Kharma MP-150se produced a huge, "how could it possibly come from such small speakers" soundstage and superior slam. Most important, the system showed no fear either on the top or the bottom of the audible spectrum. It may not match our carpet, but I love the blue. Another system that left me smiling.

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