The lines to the registration booth stretched way down the main corridor of the 18th floor at the majestic Waldorf=Astoria. We were all very happily surprised to see so many anxious attendees arrive on a beautiful Friday afternoon in NYC. As people received their badges, they picked up complimentary copies of their favorite magazines, including the latest issue of Stereophile.
Waiting for an opportunity to photograph recordist Todd Garfinkle, of MA Recordings, was no small task: Just one hour into the New York show on Friday, his exhibit was jammed with eager music buyers, and I had to wait several (enjoyable) minutes before the crowd thinned enough that he could take a break.
The MBL room was the last room I visited at the NY Audio & AV Show. I sat down in the sweet spot, on the couch midway between the MBL 101E Mk.2 "radialstrahler" speakers, each driven by a 9011 monoblock; Jeremy Bryan cued up a hi-rez file of Peter Gabriel singing "Wallflower," from his New Blood album; and OMG. This was true virtual reality! Then Jeremy explained what he had to do to tame the room's acousticssee Ariel Bitran's blog following this one. All I can say is that it was worth the effort!
Long lines flooded out of the MBL room on the 18th Floor of the Waldorf=Astoria all weekend long, so I arrived at 9:30am on Sunday morning to see if I could get a good listen to the MBL system by myself. Upon arrival, MBL North America’s representative, Jeremy Bryan, was still setting up his smaller speakers, the mbl 120 Radialstrahler ($21,400/pair, without stands) along with their mbl C21 stereo power amplifier ($9200), mbl C11 preamplifier ($8,800), and mbl C31 CD player ($9,200), all members of their Corona line of electronics.
I sat to the side of the room while Bryan finished his set-up, centered in his listening position, tilting his head back and forth. After the first ten seconds of four to five different demo tracks, Jeremy blurted, “Alright! I think we’re set. Come sit down.”
While Art Dudley was photographing the new VPI Classic 4 turntable, Stereophile illustrator Jeff Wong (right) cornered Michael Fremer and asked him to autograph Michael's mid-1970s stand-up comedy album, I Can Take a Joke.
I will state up-front that the Audio Note AN-E Lexus loudspeakers ($19,000/pair) and accompanying Audio Note gear was not my favorite system at the show. I did not have a favorite, as I particularly enjoyed the sound of many systems including the Sony room, the Innovative Audio room, and the High Water Sound room. Yet, I easily spent the most time at Audio Note. Why?
"New York, New York, It's an Audio Town!" After far too many years without a large-scale audio show, New York City is about to get a taste of what regularly enriches the lives of audiophiles in other major centers around the world. The first, hopefully annual New York Audio and AV Show, brought to you by the same Chester Group that mounts audio shows in the UK, Australia, and Sweden, and by T.H.E. Show USA, takes place in Park Avenue's grand Waldorf=Astoria Hotel at 301 Park Avenue on Friday April 13Sunday, April 15.
Wes Bender Studio NYC clearly cares about the way things look and sound. The components here shared a clean appearance and worked together for a big, bold sound. Making their NYC debut were the Hansen Audio Prince E loudspeakers ($39,000/pair) and Viola Audio Labs Crescendo preamplifier/DAC ($19,000, including Apple iPod Touch).
The mad rush to check out the first available rooms at zero hour at a hi-fi show can be a harrowing experience. Even though everyone has a map of the exhibits within their program guide, sometimes just meandering and finding the room that calls out to you is the best way to choose. Well the bowl of Reese’s Cups and mini-packets of Whoppers outside the Veloce room sure did speak to me, as did the sound. Paired with YG Kipod 2 Signature speakers and powered by two class-D monoblocks from Veloce, the V-6s ($15,000/pair), sound was clear with a deep black backdrop, probably because these amps run on batteries, which managing director Mark Conti said was “more complicated than simply putting a battery in a box.” This system accurately simulated the live attack of a hi-hat and the sharp snap of a rim-shot on the edge of snare. Conti then happily played This Is Right Now, an EP by my band Heroes of the Open End cut at a home studio in Brooklyn. The system revealed many of the flaws in this recording, including poor bass equalization, unrealistic drum sound, and balance issues between the guitars. Doh! Next time we’re going to a real studio!
Even at low volumes, the sound coming from the Red Wine Audio/Fidelis AV room was detailed, engaging, and easy to enjoy. The system I heard was made of Red Wine’s Isabella vacuum tube preamp/DAC ($4000) and Liliana monoblock power amplifiers ($6000/pair), an MSB transport, Tellurium Q cabling, and a relative newcomer to the Fidelis line, England’s Kudos C20 loudspeakers. While all Red Wine products are battery-powered, the Liliana is especially interesting because it is the first Red Wine amplifier to employ a class-A tube input stage and a class-A/B MOSFET output stage.
Also on display in the Red Wine Audio room was the company’s Audez’e Edition headphone amplifier, optimized for use with the popular Audez’e LCD-2 headphones. The complete system ($4900) includes the amplifier, a set of LCD-2 headphones, and ALO Audio’s new Audez’e headphone cable. If you already own the headphones, however, you can purchase the amp and cable for ($3950). Price includes a very nice carrying case. This happy listener said the system sounded wonderful.
Art's already mentioned the glorious sound of the Robyatt Audio room, so with this picture I tried to capture a bit of the system's overall look and feel. This was, to my eyes, the sexiest system of the show. The only thing missing was the pinup girl. The sound was just as easy on the ears: When "Sing, Sing, Sing" came to the end, everyone in the room clapped and cheered.