You can interpret the title of this blog in many ways. Speaking personally as a Bay Area resident, it means coming into the home stretch of the California Audio Show knowing that there are a host of dealers, distributors, and manufacturers in Northern California who are in love with music and dedicated to high quality music reproduction. It also means, in the literal sense, that CAS 3 included a number of systems that got to the heart of music reproduction.
One of those was Bob Hodas' room. Shown in part with recording, mixing, and mastering engineer Piper Payne. . .
"Hello. This is the Suzanne at the Cable Company in New Hope. How can I direct your call?" How many years have I heard that familiar voice, over and over? At last, like a very thirsty pilgrim happening upon an oasis in the desert, CAS 2012 presented my first opportunity to hug the real Suzanne Cleary.
Can it get better than the mbl and Magico/VAC/Audio Research/Auraliti etc. etc. rooms? Skipping until Saturday the Wilson Alexandria/VTL/etc. room, which took an enormous amount of self-control, believe me, I headed to the large suite shared by Cookie Marenco's Blue Coast Records/OTR Studios and Sony. Blue Coast Records was preparing for their 2pm panel, "DSD: Join the Cutting Edge." Pictured, left to right, are Dr. Andrew Demery, Super Audio Center DSD consultant; Marenco; and Sugiara. (Andres Koch of Playback Designs, also on the panel, arrived too late for inclusion in the photo.)
The good news is that the smaller rooms on the lobby level of the Burlingame Crowne Plaza were not plagued with the same treble truncation that sabotaged the larger exhibits. Hence Alon Wolf of Magico had a lot to smile about. Shown here with his two handsome sons, Yonathon (18) and Yuval (14), he paused in the hallway outside the Constellation/Magico room, which showcased Constellation's Virgo preamplifier ($19,000) and Centaur power amplifier ($24,000); Auraliti's L1000 Media Server ($4000) and prototype DAC; Magico's small, classy-looking Q1 2-way monitor loudspeakers ($26,500/pair including stands); and MIT's Oracle MA-X SHD speaker cables ($40,000/pair) and MA-C interconnects ($3000/pair).
The sound in this room blew me away. With the Auraliti combo subbing for Constellation's Sirius HD digital music source, which was overseas in preparation for the Hong Kong audio showboth units are designed in part by Demian Martinthe sound was open, impeccably controlled from top to bottom, maximally colorful and illumined, yet remarkably neutral in timbre.
I beg your indulgence. CAS 2012 gave Northern Californians their first opportunity to hear Wilson Audio's imposing Alexandria XLF loudspeaker ($199,500/pair). The latest and grandest statement of Dave Wilson's engineering acumenhe designed the crossover and supervised the voicing, for startersthe 97dB-sensitive Alexandria XLF powered by the 600W VTL Siegfried Series II Reference monoblocks ($65,000/pair), together with the not-really-necessary but it sure makes its mark in such a large room Wilson Audio Thor's Hammer subwoofer ($21,500) and a front end whose cutting-edge technology and pocket-cutting pricing could make many a grown woman and man weep, produced some of the most stunning sound I have ever heard at an audio show.
The California Audio Show returns to the Crowne Plaza Hotel in Burlingame August 35. Produced by Constantine Soo's dagogo.com, and sponsored by Stereophile, The Absolute Sound, Wired.com, Audiophilevoice.com, AVshowrooms.com, and San Francisco Classical Voice (SFCV.org), Northern California's only show aimed at audiophile consumers promises 36 exhibit rooms stocked with equipment from at least 100 manufacturers.
It's the morning of Friday August 3, and I've arrived 30 minutes before dagogo's third annual California Audio Show begins in Burlingame's Crowne Plaza Hotel. In the lobby, the website's founder and show organizer, Constantine Soo, just has time to pose before a map of exhibit rooms on the hotel's first floor.