The "Beyond Frontiers" refers to the fact that the company's designer was responsible for some of the well-respected Sonic Frontiers products from a decade ago. This is the Beyond Frontiers tubed balanced D/A processor, which was being used as the source in the LessLoss room.
There’s been lots of excitement slash praise over the Bricasti M1 DAC ($7,995) here at Stereophile from the two Johns (that’s Atkinson and Marks for the kids at home), so I made sure to take my chance to hear this DAC. I was struck by the DAC’s analog sensibilities, committing warmth and space to the music, and enjoyed how the minimum phase filters showcased options for gentler roll-offs at higher frequencies, allowing listeners to choose just how much bite and space surrounding each leading edge they care for. Since the supplied speaker stands were not tall enough for seated listeners, Brian Zolner had to stand his Harbeths on dresser drawers. Check out our reviews of the Bricasti M1 here and here
Robert Stein of Ultra Systems (and of the innovative retail outlet The Cable Company) introduced an accessory called the WA Quantum Chip. Available in different sizes, ranging in price from $7.50 to $65 each, the German-made WA Chip is a removable sticker that contains an impregnated film, which is reportedly subjected to a special treatment. Sized for everything from fuses to cell phones to speakers, WA Chips are claimed to increase component efficiency and current flow, for audibly enhanced performance.
The TAD CR1 (for Compact Reference) loudspeaker ($37,000/pair) was demonstrated with Viola amplification and a digital front end comprising the Weiss Man301 server ($9000) and Weiss Medea+ D-to-A converter ($19,000). The CR1, which has been on the market for a little over three years, has a rated sensitivity of 86dB and uses the same type of CST coincident driver as featured in the company's flagship Reference One loudspeaker. The TAD had satisfying bass extension for such a relatively small enclosure, but the system was being played way too loud for my comfort, so I can't offer a more nuanced appraisal. JA, however, was very impressed when he reviewed the CR1 last January.
The Music First Audio room was getting a lot of buzz around the show for its sound: delicate and detailed, a sound which emphasized Chet Atkins’ nimble shredding on “Snowbird” perfectly. Like his fast-fingered attacks, the playback from a Revox reel-to-reel A77 fed to the passive Music First Baby Reference Preamp ($7900) into Rogers LS35A speakers powered by a Bel Canto S300 was nuanced and swift. Sam Tellig reviews a similar Music First Audio Classic Magnetic Preamplifier ($4185) in our upcoming June issue. Also appealing in this room were gorgeous and compact stands from Hi-Fi Racks.
Some of the nicest analog playback I heard at the show came courtesy of GTT Audio, in whose suite the reliably well-dressed Philip O'Hanlon spun vinyl on a Brinkmann Balance turntable ($24,000, closest to camera) with Brinkmann 12.1 tonearm ($7500) and an Air Tight PC1 Supreme cartridge ($15,000). Of special delight were selections from Ray LaMontagne's God Willin' & the Creek Don't Rise and advance pressings from the forthcoming LP reissue series, by Analogue Productions, of the Doors catalog. The rest of the system featured YG's Anat III Professional Signature speakers ($119,000/pair) driven by Soulution 501 monoblocks ($55,000/pair), a Soulution 750 phono stage ($25,000), Soulution 720 preamp ($45,000), all wired with Kubala-Sosna Elation cables.
Before playing “La Villa Strangiato” from side 2 of the Rush LP Hemispheres, On a Higher Note’s Philip O’Hanlon advised me to go get my record cleaned by the Audio Deske Vinyl Cleaner. I told him, “I just did!”
Seconds after playing my There Comes a Time record by Neil Young in the Robyatt Audio room, Charlie King said I should get it cleaned at the Audio Deske cleaner. I told him, “I just did!”
First of all, just how filthy are my records?
Second, this same experience happened to me at least five different times during the New York hifi show. Maybe it is because my records actually are filthy, or maybe it is because that Audio Deske Vinyl Cleaner ($3895), really just is that awesome and easy to use that everyone had to sell it to me.
Friday night at the NY Audio & AV Show, Stereophile sponsored a concert featuring Attention Screen, the jazz quartet led by reviewer Bob Reina (right). In the four improvisations lasting almost an hour, covering musical genres that ranged from the blues through space music to salsa, Bob had a blast playing a rather nice Steinway piano. Drummer Mark Flynn provided some of the most intelligent percussion I have heard, playing in lock step with bassist Chris Jones, yet taking risks that propelled the music forward, outward, and upward. The Steinway was provided by Peter Becker, of NYC dealer Klavierhaus. It was brought in specifically for the show and sponsored by the ever-generous Robin Wyatt of Robyatt Audio, who also sponsored the Elio Villafranca concert.
From an email’s distance, Jeff Catalano and his dealership High Water Sound seemed an enigmatic business in my mind, selling esoteric hi-fi from a downtown NYC loft. So, I was a little intimidated to visit his room, but to my surprise, Catalano is as non-elusive as you can get, beaming with joy about hi-fi and music and even wearing a Triumph shirt(!), the true sign of an everyman. He tells me he is committed to selling gear that brings the most emotion out the music.
The dipolar Gradient speakers from Finland being demmed in the SimpliFi suite had an advantage over conventional speakers at the NY Show, in that they better coped with the Waldorf=Astoria's often-problematic room acoustics. Partnered with Bladelius electronics and DNM cabling, the Revolution speakers (right) were paired with the matching Radiant subwoofer (center), which features two 12" drivers to produce uncolored, full-range low frequencies. Stephen Mejias was sufficiently impressed to look up from his notebook. The white speaker is Gradient's Helsinki 1.5, which Art Dudley reviewed in August 2010
The record player used in the Robyatt suite was the Anatase (price available upon request) from Oswalds Mill Audio: an original Lenco motor unit updated with a custom-made bearing and idler wheel assembly, and wedded to a massive slate plinth. The primary arm was the excellent Thomas Schick Tonearm ($1675), used with various Miyajima cartridges.
I remember being impressed when I looked inside my low-impedance Miyabi 47 phono cartridge and counted approximately 14 turns of wire per channel on its coil former. Haniwa has now produced a cartridge with an even lower number of turns per channeltwo!for an internal impedance of just 0.8 ohms. Nevertheless, Haniwa has used various materials and construction techniques to maintain a quite reasonable output of 0.35mV. The Haniwa HCTR01 cartridge, which is also a notably high-compliance design, is available for $12,000. Michael Fremer reviewed it in his November 2011 “Analog Corner” column.