From Tsunehisa Kimura's Toshi Wa Sawayakana Asa Wo Mukaeru (The City Welcomes a Fresh Morning)
As Jason Victor Serinus reported, the New York Audio Show will take place this Friday through Sunday at the Palace Hotel (455 Madison Avenue, at 50th Street) and will host some 250 high-performance audio brands and several interesting seminars.
But the New York Audio Show is not the only audio-related event to take place in Manhattan this weekend. Two major NYC dealers, Lyric Hi-Fi & Video and Stereo Exchange, will hold their own special events, separate from the NYAS. Both events are free to the public and will feature product demonstrations, discounted pricing on demo equipment, and ample time for Q&A with manufacturer representatives.
I've written before about the Washington state-based company Sjöfn HiFi and their remarkable little loudspeaker called the Clue ($999/pair): an inexplicably huge-sounding thing that does a far better job than average of putting across force, feel, and fun. The Sjöfn room at NYAS, sponsored by Outreach A/V of Westfield, New Jersey, went even further, with a double pair of Clues driven by a humble NAD integrated amplifier with a built-in D/A converter, itself fed by an Oppo Blu-Ray player and Squeezebox (offstage). A piece called Concerto for Jazz Drummer and Full Orchestra, written by composer/conductor Harold Farberman and performed with the great drummer Louie Bellson, sounded colorful and wild, just as it should have. That alone motivated me to request, finally, a pair of the Clue for review.
Beauty of Sound also imports and distributes Ikeda tonearms and phono cartridges, used at the show in tandem with a Triangle Art Signature turntable ($12,500). Seen here are the Ikeda IT-407 arm ($6500) and Kai cartridge ($7500); I have in hand a review sample of the former, and will report on it soon. Also in the Beauty of Sound system but not seen here were the Tube Guru all-tube Reference Phono preamplifier ($5400) and Rick Schultz’s High Fidelity cables, which, I’m told, use a patented magnetic signal-transfer technology. Sadly, the aforementioned Leonardo loudspeakers, which sounded great, proved too glossy and black for my camera.
Mat Weisfield was ultra-stoked to tell me about VPI's new 3D-printed tonearm. I'll let Art do the explaining, but when I heard the VPI room, images were rock solid and full-bodied through the 3D printed tonearm and nascent VPI Classic Direct. A turntable created out of happenstance, when the chassis for the planned direct-drive Vanquish was not ready for the show, they stuck the Vanquish parts into a Classic chassis and the VPI Classic Direct (approximately $20-25k) was born. Resourceful, those VPI fellas.
From left: Dan D’Agostino, Vince Galbo of MSB, and Peter McGrath of Wilson Audio Specialties.
In association with Innovative Audio, these gentleman put together a high-performance system made of Wilson Alexia loudspeakers ($48,500/pair); D’Agostino Momentum monoblocks ($55,000/pair) and Ultra-Analog preamplifier ($32,000 with power base); MSB Diamond DAC IV Plus ($27,995) with FemtoSecond Galaxy Clock ($4995), Diamond Stepped Attenuator ($2995), USB2 Signature 384kHz input option ($1395), Pro IS input option ($995), Diamond ($5995) and Signature ($4995) power bases, and Platinum Data CD IV disc player ($3995); and Transparent Reference XL speaker cables ($13,160/pair), balanced interconnects ($9270/pair), and digital interconnects ($3195 each). Power conditioning was also from Transparent, while the equipment was supported by Finite Element Pagode racks.
Raidho D1 loudspeakers from Denmark ($20,000/pair), Merrill Veritas amplifiers from Colorado ($12,000/pair), a Kondo G-70 line-level preamplifier from Japan ($35,000), and a Pi Greco Sinfonia CD player from Italy ($15,000) managed to get along nicely in one of the Rhapsody Music and Cinema rooms.
Let's just come out and say it: loudspeaker designer Jeff Joseph, of Joseph Audio, always makes a good sound, and his system's performance at this venue was no exception: organic, open, natural, un-spectacular, un-bombastic, and just plain lovely. The speakers in question were the Joseph Audio Pulsars ($7000/pair), driven by a Unison Unico 50 amplifier ($1450), fed by a Lynx Hilo D/A converter (street price: $2500) and a laptop equipped with Channel D's Pure Music software ($129). Cables were by Cardas.
While there were many exciting cost-no-object systems on display, the New York Audio Show was also home to refreshingly small and simple systems that nevertheless offered exceptional performance.
KEF’s beautiful LS50 loudspeakers ($1500/pair) were partnered with Audio Electronics’ Constellation tube preamp ($1495), Hercules power amp ($1895), and Lightning DAC ($1295). Wireworld provided the cabling. The music, which came from a laptop, sounded forceful, dynamic, colorful, and present.
If I could have taken home any system from the New York Audio Show, it would have been this one.
Once hailed as the most expensive amplifier in domestic audioa distinction that has long since passed by the wayside, even when one accounts for inflationthe legendary Audio Note (Japan) Ongaku was put through its paces in the Kondo room. Though designed as an integrated ampits stereo pair of 211 tubes, run single-ended, offer 27Wpcthis Ongaku was being used as a power amplifier, by means of its direct inputs. Pricing information was unavailable at the time of my visit.
I am a big fan of the hi-rez audio files made available by Lessloss, so one of the first rooms I visited at the NY Audio Show was theirs. The system featured a pair of Kaiser Kawero Vivace floorstanding speakers from Germany, which combine a custom-made Mundorf AMT tweeter with ScanSpeak Illuminator midrange unit and rear-facing woofers. With the source Lessloss's new Laminar Streamer, which plays audio files from SD cards, and Pass Labs amplifiers, the sound in this room was delicate and full-bodied, though perhaps too sweet overall.
Innovative Audio Video Showrooms, a New York City hi-fi gallery hosted two rooms this year: one room with an ultimate-truth to recording digital playback system and the ultra-smooth analog room.
Scott Haggart, a passionate Innovative employee and expert hi-fi demo deliverer was in the midst of a presentation upon my arrival. Haggart treats his work with serious care, and as anyone who has experienced one of his demos can attest to, he guides the listeners patiently through the exact gear that they are listening to and details about the music, a skill not many exhibitors at this hi-fi show demonstrated.
I saw her first in the Clue room. She exited at the same time as random bald man #72. Were they together? I’m not sure, but the dangerously punchy sound was not helping my listening fatigue. I left. She walked into the Audio Doctor’s KEF Blade display. Should I follow her? That would be weird.
A gentleman from Music First Audio started talking to me and pointing at my camera: “We have a colorful preamp for you to take pictures of.”
I was intrigued by the new MartinLogan Dynamo 1500X subwoofer ($1595), but even more so in a relatively humble accessory that M-L offers to buyers of their current subwoofers: the Perfect Bass Kit or PBK ($100), comprising a stand plus a USB microphone, the latter to connect between your woofer and your PC in order to optimize positioning and setup.
The audiophile press seemed a surprisingly patient bunch. After following the incredibly well indicated signs placed by the Chester Group to the Fourth Floor of the New York Palace, reporters and photographers waited subserviently in a four-person line to receive our press badges. At the counter, Art Dudley, columnist and Editor-at-Large for Stereophile, and Jeff Dorgay, publisher at Tone Audio, chummed it up.