Audioengine, which made a deservedly major mark a few years back with its perfect-for-desktop-computers, self-powered loudspeakers, has just issued the W3 as a replacement for the W1 ($149, I believe). A plug-and-play "premium wireless audio adapter" designed to move computer audio around your home or office, it can transmit 16-bit signals to up to three receivers ($89 for a receiver kit) via a closed 802.11 network. (Those desiring to send 24-bit signals can opt for the D2.) Also fairly new are the Audioengine 5+ powered loudspeakers ($399 and up).
And, for those who weren’t brave enough for Tornado Potato or Rolling Sushi, the Aura restaurant and bar proved the perfect place to see and be seen, to mingle, to catch up on business, or to simply enjoy food and drink.
The German AVM company has been around for a long time, but its products are new to the USA. AVM's Udo Besser was instrumental in bringing Burmester products to the US and now intends to do the same for AVM. Shown in my photo is the PA8 modular preamp (starting at $10,000), which can have various options, including a tubed output stage, added. Also on show was the ML8 Music Library, which has either 2TB of hard-drive storage or 600GB of solid-state storage, the CD8 CD player, and the 450Wpc SA8 amplifier.
Sharing a Hilton ballroom with Legacy and AVM, the Austrian Ayon tube amplification was being demmed with Lumenwhite Artisan speakers ($40k/pair). Source was the new Ayon Music Server and two-box preamp. Listening to Pink Floyd's "Another Brick in the Wall," I thought the sound was better than it had any right to be given the suboptimal acoustics. Then I spotted some of the Synergistic ART Acoustic bowls on the wallsmy left brain knows these silly little bowls can have no audible effect on room acoustics in the audio range; my right brain was busy telling my feet to tap!
John Atkinson reported on B.M.C.’s new Arcadia loudspeaker ($36,300/pair) from January’s CES. But B.M.C.’s Carlos Candeias has already upgraded his design with SpeakON connectors between the outboard crossovers and the speaker cabinets, improved internal wiring, and a revised magnet construction in the midrange drivers. In addition, the speaker’s spikes now screw directly into the speaker’s base for better grounding. The changes come at no additional cost. “We improved the model, but that doesn’t always mean you have to raise the price,” said Candeias.
Jason Smith of Babyjdrums Classic Vinyl and Audio had tons of classical LPs for sale, almost all in pristine condition (many were even sealed), and at bargain basement prices. Smith also sells hi-fi out of his home; his brands include PTE, Musical Surroundings, Denon, Soundsmith, and Synergistic Research. And he’s a drummer, on tour this summer with the Albert Lee Band.
On Sunday afternoon, the last day of the Newport Beach Show, Peter Roth of the Los Angeles and Orange County Audio Society (seated second from right) moderated a panel of loudspeaker designers, including (from left): John DeVore (DeVore Fidelity), Kevin Malmgren (Evolution Acoustics), Yoav Geva (YG Acoustics), and Albert Von Schweikert (Von Schweikert Audio). Thanks to Peter’s excellent questions and the panel’s forthright answers, it was a fun and fascinating sessionand one of my favorite events of the show.
In a handsomely equipped room that showcased the dual-mono lithium battery-powered Veloce LS-1 linestage ($18,000), Veloce V6 400Wpc monoblock amplifiers ($15,000/pair) with their tube input and class-D output stage, YG Acoustics Carmel loudspeakers ($18,000/pair), none-too-shabby Audio Aero “La Source” CD/SACD player (approx. $40,000), and Kubala-Sosna’s Emotion and Elation cabling (no price supplied), I initially thought the sound a tad dry. But then I warmed to the remarkably clear and unencumbered presentation of jazz, which was also distinguished by engaging three-dimensionality. On tracks by Tommy Flanagan and Holly Cole, I found the transparency remarkable, and greatly enjoyed the height and space of the images.
Bluebird Music’s Jay Rein was pleased to show the Spendor Classic SP2/3R2 loudspeaker ($4295/pair), which takes the tweeter from Spendor’s SA-1 and combines it with the company’s original BBC technology, construction, and design.
One of my favorite visits at T.H.E. Show was to the Tannoy/Cary/Synergistic Room sponsored by The Home Theater Experience of Carlsbad, CA. As luck would have it, 40-year industry veteran Tony Weber, a sound engineer on many of Delos' early recordings and currently Regional Sale Manager for Cary Audio, was at the helm.
BSG Technologies' Larry Alan Kay, many years ago the publisher of Fi magazine, spent THE Show eagerly A/B-ing the effect of his Signal Completion Stage ($3995). This all-analog processor is claimed to undo the effect of all the deleterious phase shifts that have occurred during the making of a recording, restoring what Kay calls "the geography of the recorded sound."
Back in June 2010, I reviewed the DACPort USB D/A headphone amplifier and was very impressed by what I heard. CEntrance has since expanded their range of products, and at THE Show had a booth outside the Hilton's groundfloor ballrooms where they demmed a cute Audiophile Desktop system ($2000), which combines the MasterClass 2504 2-way coaxial speakers, the DACmini PX desktop amplifier and DAC, and a travel case.
Channel D's affable Rob Robinson was playing 24/192k LP rips made with Pure Vinyl with the Joseph Pulsar speakers ($7000/pair), which have just got a rave review in the June issue of Stereophile. "Listen to this," said Rob, lowering Pure Vinyl's virtual tonearm on to the image of an LP on the screen, and I heard some familiar-sounding music: it was a rip of Stereophile's 1990 Intermezzo album, which Rob had picked up at a European show.