Hiram Toro explained that he took the reigns of Koetsu USA when his close friend and Koetsu importer Ronnie Caplan unexpectedly passed away. Before Ronnie succumbed to complications following a heart attack, Hiram had promised his friend that he would take care of everything, fully expecting that Ronnie would recover from his illnesses. Hiram kept his promise and has maintained the Koetsu presence in the US market for the past two years. When he decided that that wasn't enough fun, he added Chario loudspeakers and Montegiro turntables to the roster.
As Jason mentioned earlier, I gave 5 hour-long presentations at RMAF entitled "Hearing is Believing—Is Hi Rez Digital the Future of Audio?" To allow Showgoers to hear the differences between the hi-rez masters of my recordings and CD and MP3 versions, I used a system put together by HiFi+ editor Roy Gregory for his demonstrations of system tuningAyre A7-xe integrated amplifier, Avalon Evolution NP2.0 speakers (which I reviewed in July, Vertex AQ cables, Stillpoints rack and speaker stands, and Quantum QX4 "field generator"to which I added a MacBook running iTunes 8 driving a Wavelength Audio Cosecant USB DAC.
Lou Hinkley's Daedalus Audio teamed up with an old friend, Art Audio/Gill Audio, and a new friend, Manley Labs. Showcasing the Daedalus Audio Ulysses loudspeaker ($10,950/pair), now boasting new improved internal wire, the system's dark presentation was very well delineated, with impressively three-dimensional sound. The midrange was especially mellow and inviting.
I know. It sounds a bit like a Beatles flashback. (Note the psychedelic colors on Ron Hedrick's face, for reasons that only the Marriott lobby's lighting designer can explain). But this seems to be a very 2008 product. Marigo's Ron Hedrick spent 2 years building 120 prototypes before releasing his VX Mystery Feet for amplifiers, DACs, and other components ($699/set of three), and TR Mystery Feet for digital transports and CD players ($659/set of three). Each support foot consists of 32 parts, with 10 constrained layers of composite material that are first heated, then pressed at 1000psi. Hand-assembled, the feet include little brass inserts on the component end to distribute energy. You balance your components on the protruding little brass thingees on one end and pray there's no earthquake.
Oh my God. What a sound! The lighting and my distance from the speaker doesn't allow you to see it clearly, but there's a little cross inside the radiating grille atop the workings of MBL's Radialstrahler Reference mbl 101 Mk.II speakers ($59,990/pair) that drives home the religious experience that listening to an all-MBL system can create.
One of the most obvious solutions to the problem of attracting a younger audience to high end hi-fi is mentoring. It is undoubtedly clear that younger generations of music lovers can distinguish between poor and good quality sound. They can, after all, hear a wider range of frequencies than older folks. And they do, after all, love music. So, what is the problem?
And here's that sexy Modwright-modified "Truth" Transporter with its tubed analog stage. Transporter owners can have their units modified for $2000, plus shipping; Modwright provides new units for $3800. All Modwright modifications are only available factory-direct.
I was very happy to finally meet Modwright Instruments' Dan Wright, possibly best known for his Modwright "Truth" modifications to popular components such as the Sony '9000ES universal player and Logitech Transporter.
There's nothing like being greeted as the audiophile equivalent of the Messiah to either make your day or impel you to run for cover. In the case of Peigen Jiang's Eficion speakers, I'm glad I got over my embarassment and stayed.
Not every breakthrough product available through cable manufacturer Nordost costs an arm and a leg. The new Quantum Resonant Technology products distributed worldwide by Nordost Corporation are a prime example. While the QX-2 costs $1700, and the larger QX-4 costs $2500, their amazing effects on sound suggest a product I'd expect to cost far more.
Veteran speaker engineer Albert Von Schweikert wasn't in the room at the time, but his astounding VR-9SE ($90,000/pair) was making the quite a sound in his absence. The smaller sibling of the flagship VR-11SE, this 350 lb, two-module mini-behemoth was paired with VAC's brand-new Phi-200 100Wpc amplifier, Signature linestage ($14,000), and recently-released Phi Alpha D/A Converter ($7500). An older Oracle transport and what appeared to be Cardas Golden Cross cabling completed the system. Any notion that tube equipment lacks control in the bass was blown to pieces by this system's tremendous authority in the bass region and beautiful presentation on high. Fabulous sound.