Prior to the onset of the Chester Group’s New York Audio & AV Show, there had been some controversy in regards to big-time local dealers Stereo Exchange and Lyric hosting their own events the weekend of the show. These events brought in big brands such as Totem, McIntosh, B&W, and Audio Research, who would be presenting exclusively at their stores. Would these dealer events keep participants away from the New York Audio & AV Show? How would these coinciding events affect one another? Were these signs that the show organizers had not done the work necessary to motivate exhibitors to participate in the New York show?
The New York Audio and AV show (wait a minute: Doesn’t the A in AV already stand for Audio?) takes place at the famed Waldorf=Astoria from 3:00pm to 8:00pm today, from 10:00am to 6:00pm Saturday, and from 10:00am to 5:00pm on Sunday). Yesterday I was weary from traveling (I arrived here by train from Philadelphia), so it wasn’t until this morning that I noticed the carpet pattern outside the door of my room: a William Morris-style bunny. I’m clearly in the right place.
As well as providing the sound for the seminar room, which was where a recorded music concert, titled "Euphoria at the Waldorf," was presented Friday and Saturday evenings, The Tweak Studio's exhibit room also featured components from the premium German manufacturer Burmester: a pair of 380 Mk.2 speakers driven by a 911 power amplifier and an 088 preamp. Source was a Walker turntable and arm fitted with a Soundsmith Sussuro Hyperion cartridge. There was much to admire in this system's reproduction of Louis Armstrong singing "St. James Infirmary," but as was the case with so many of the rooms at the Waldorf, the presentation was marred by over-ripe room acoustics.
Here's the Vinyl Cleaner ($3895), a new type of LP washing machine made in Germany by Audio Desk Systeme Glass (they make a popular CD edge-trimmer you've no doubt seen) and distributed in the US by Ultra Systems. Described by Robert Stein as "the only way you can really clean the bottom of a record groove," the Vinyl Cleaner uses ultrasonic waves to separate dirt and vinyl from one another, and dries the disc with a fan instead of a vacuum (the latter induces static, according to the designer). Watch for Michael Fremer's review in an upcoming episode of "Analog Corner."
A Legacy Audio Whisper XD loudspeaker ($20,500$22,500/pair, depending on finish) stands next to a life-size picture of a Legacy Audio Whisper XD loudspeaker. One of these has eight drivers, dual 500-watt ICE subwoofer amplifiers, and a 24-bit room-correction processor. The other does not.
The Viola electronics on display included their four-chassis, dual-mono Solo preamplifier ($45,000) and Bravo II stereo amp ($59,000). The latter is supplied in two chassis, and provides 700Wpc channel into 4 ohms: the nominal impedance of the TAD CR1s. DAC was the highly regarded Bricasti M1.
For me, the biggest, most exciting, and most inspiring news of the show came in the form of VPI's latest and least expensive turntable, the Traveler ($1299). The turntable is a tribute to Sheila Weisfeld, who passed away in December of last year.
And here’s Well Rounded Sound’s designer, Jerry Cmehil, holding a couple of his company’s smaller offeringsin his right hand, a little Yorkie ($249/pair), and in his right hand, a Jack Terrier 2 ($299/pair). These speakers are identical in size, but the Jack Terrier is slightly more sensitive (88dB vs the Yorkie’s 87dB rating) and has a larger specified frequency range (100Hz24kHz vs 100Hz21kHz).
Well Rounded Sound, a US company that specializes in high quality desktop loudspeakers, exhibited a number of eye-catching models, including their new Corgi ($799/pair), which is scheduled to begin production in July.
My first stop for my very first hi-fi show ever was the Woo Audio room, appropriate as most of my listening is done through headphones. Their stalwart Woo Audio 234 MONO monoblock amplifiers, a prototype built to amplify both headphones and loudspeakers, facilitate simple tube switching via a “tube switching key” or TSK. The WA-234 MONO accepts 2A3, 300B, and 45 power tubes, and by the simple twist of the key, you can change your power tube. With some Audeze LCD2 headphones, this system recreated the gentle and sweet reverberations of David Russell’s guitar with ample air surrounding each fingerpick. Also enjoyable was listening through their electrostatic headphone amp, the WES ($7,790), which allowed me to distinguish between Izzy and Slash’s snake-tangled guitars on “Welcome to the Jungle”. Consider me woo-ed.
At the Audio Arts suite I was enchanted by the sound of my favorite 1960s-era folk trio (although I confess that that wasn't the Corries, whose debut album is seen here in the hands of Audio Arts proprietor Gideon Schwartz). "Tiny Sparrow" and other selections from the cannily titled Peter, Paul & Mary album Moving sounded colorful and clear on a system comprising the Holborne Analog 2 turntable ($5275), Holborne Analog 2 tonearm ($3475), Holborne MC1 cartridge ($1975), David Berning ZOTL preamp with phono stage ($12,300), David Berning ZH230 mono amplifiers ($18,400/pair), and the very interesting Zellaton Concert loudspeakers ($59,750/pair), the drive-units of whicheven the tweeterare all descended from the Pawel laminated metal-foil cone woofer.