As far as I can tell, Omaha Audio has no connection with the city in Nebraska: its headquarters are in California, and the products are made in China—but "created, designed and checked in the USA." The system they were playing used their own speaker (named, fittingly enough, the Omaha Speaker), a fairly large two-way with some resemblance to Sonus Faber products ($2000/pair), the Omaha Tube CD player ($1600), and the OD-300B single-ended-triode integrated amplifier ($1400, photographed here by Larry Greenhill). At the Stereophile Ask the Editors session, Sam Tellig was raving about this amplifier and the value it represented. Based on the sound of the system (smooth, highly musical) I have to agree with him.
...and 3.6kW into 2 ohms! All in a day's work for Krell's $40,000/pair, Krell Evolution 900 monoblock amplifier. On passive display with its top off, you can see that the amplifier has three output modules, each containing a pair of driver stages, 28 bipolar output devices, and a massive heatsink that vents heat in chimney fashion through vents in the top and bottom of the chassis. The power supply features two 3kVA toroidal transformers, 52 electrolytic capacitors, each rated at 1800µF, 900watt, and 105°F. Weight? Again I didn't want to know, but was told it was a mere 175 lbs!
Andrew Watson proudly discussed the latest iteration of KEF's reference floorstanding speaker, the $20,000/pair 207 Mark 2. This new version features a new UNI-Q array that no longer needs the hypertweeter found in the Mark 1 version. The new tweeter has a vented magnetic assembly to provide more air volume behind the dome to smooth the sonic response. The manufacturer has to drill through the magnet assembly, thereby reducing its sensitivity. As a result, two additional neodymium rings were added to the usal magnet. The new tweeter's design has the voice-coil former touching the dome at two points to lend additional support and prevent breakup at high frequencies.
AIX Records' Mark Waldrep, see here with Mona Waldrep, was promoting their latest DVD-Video and DVD-Audio, surround-sound release, Ernest Ranglin, Order of Distinction. Featured performers included Robbie Krieger from the Doors, Phil Chen and Laurence Juber from Paul McCartney's Wings group, and Elan Atias from the Caars. Mark reminded me that his website, Itrax.com, will go operational in June, providing one of the only sites where high-quality, lossless-compressed, surround-sound music files will be available for purchase and downloading.
Hyperion Sound Design's Albert Wu holds up his SVF midrange driver. It's quite a piece of work. It has no spider, incorporates what Wu calls "rear pressure reduction," and the flat-carbon fiber plate that I took for a dust cap is really the transducer.
The press conference that I personally found the most exciting on the Show's first day was by Ralph Glasgal (left) on his Ambiophonics system. I knew about Ambiophonics (a signal-processing system
designed to cancel out interference between a pair of loudspeakers,
creating something akin to binaural listening but from speakers instead of headphones), but somehow I’ve never heard a demonstration, or at least not a convincing one. The demo setup at HE2007 was rather unusual, with a pair of giant Sound-Lab electrostatics at one end of the room, and another pair of floor-standing TacT speakers at the other end, the setup intended to demonstrate how the system works with these two types of speakers. I only heard the demo with the Sound-Labs, but I must say I was quite blown away with the huge soundstage, precision of imaging, and sheer ease of the sound. The Ambiophonic processing was performed by the latest TacT RCS 2.2 XP ($6000) which also functions as a full-feature preamp, a digital room correction device, and a D/A converter. Tact’s President and Designer, Radomir Bozovic (right), was also on hand to answer questions about the Tact system.
Free jazz quartet Attention Screen, which I recorded live at Manhattan's Merkin Hall in February, are performing a 60-minute set Saturday May 12 at 12:30pm, to celebrate the release at HE2007 of the resultant CD.
Several of Stereophile's editors were excited about the compact and inexpensive Audioengine 5 amplified speakers ($349/pair), which were bringing forth some sweet sounds playing files directly from a laptop. New to the Audioengine line is the tiny 2 (seen here, $199/pair), which offered a sound surprisingly similar to that of its bigger brother. The music was clean and clear, and conveyed an emotion that belied the speaker's size. Like the A5, the A2 keeps all of its electronics in the left speaker but, unlike the A5, it uses a front slot port for bass performance.
The Audioengine team is also looking at alternative cabinet materials. On display was a prototype A5 housed in lovely, sustainable bamboo. While the electronics remain the same, the bamboo models will incorporate added dampening.
Balanced Audio Technology's Steve Bednarski is a big guy, but he's not a giant, and BAT's Geoff Poor is not nearly as diminutive as he looks in this picture. It's just a matter of perspective with a wide-angle lens. The rack between Steve and Geoff houses the new top-of-the-line Rex preamp, described by Wes Phillips in another posting.