rrill Wettasingh of Merrill Audio says his class-D Veritas Monoblock amplifiers are "not for tube lovers." The crimson or black chassis is made of a solid 60lb billet of aluminum. Allowing only spade connection for the "best and biggest" sound, these 400 watt (8 ohms) power-houses seek "audio purity" rather than coloration, according to Wettasingh.
Dan Clark’s MrSpeakers Mad Dog headphone ($299) starts as a Fostex T50RP, but adds extremely comfortable lamb-leather ear pads, a leather “comfort strap,” revised 3.5mm and 7mm headphone jacks, and modifications to the headphone cups and driver surfaces.
Clark’s goal was to make a closed-back headphone that would perform well at home and on the go. He says that additional upgrades can be made easily over time, so that customers can “treat each purchase as an investment.”
Music Hall’s Roy Hall was excited about his new a15.3 integrated amplifier and matching c-dac15.3 CD player/DAC combo. Just as any good integrated amplifier should, the 50Wpc a15.3 includes a headphone output, front-panel mini-jack input, moving-magnet phono stage, and remote control. The one-box c-dac15.3 combines a three-input (optical, coax, USB-B) Wolfson DAC section with a CD player, itself based around a Burr-Brown 24-bit/192kHz-capable DAC. Build quality seemed excellent. Each unit will sell for $549. Music Hall just keeps churning out interesting, affordable products. I’ll look forward to learning more about these units later this year.
Few hi-fi brands seem to have the omnipresence in the consumer electric goods market as MartinLogan, likely because of their affordable prices and non-invasive aesthetics. Yet, I’ve never gotten a chance to hear them, only see them inside a Best Buy. I found a Grateful Dead Dick’s Picks from 5/22/77 in Pembroke Pines, Florida in their stack of CDs.
My friend Jenn Atocha was happy to present her latest LP cabinets. Like all Atocha Design products, these cabinets are handcrafted in the USA, made from sustainably harvested wood, and are formaldehyde- and lead-free. Unlike my inexpensive IKEA bookcases and other record-collection foster homes, which may or may not collapse at any moment, Atocha cabinets are made specifically for storing and showcasing a record collection. They are built to last and worthy of the term "heirloom-quality," meant to provide an entire lifetime of pleasure and use, before being passed on to future generations.
It had already been a long week at Stereophile. I trucked through three thirteen-hour workdays plugging in code for the Recommended Components iPad app and had my first dentist appointment in five years. Holes had been burned through my eyes and scraped through my teeth. Luckily, my ears were still there dangling. But the rain, the rain, THE RAIN! I could have done without the rain this morning.
Among the smaller systems I heard at NYAS, this nears the top of my list: the Resonessence Labs Invicta D/A converter ($3990), driving the Music First Audio Baby Reference preamplifier ($6990; see Sam Tellig’s rave in the October 2012 issue), the Wells Audio Innamorata power amp ($6000), and most recognizably, Audio Space’s BBC-approved version of the classic (imagine that word in gold leaf) LS-3/5a monitor (only $1790/pair) and SW-1a woofer towers ($1190), with cable by Audience. This setup had exceptional drive and impact: qualities I associate with good transformers, of which the passive Music First preamp has an abundance.
Upon visiting the room of Colleen Cardas Imports, I was impressed by yet another small loudspeaker: the Signature version of the model 1920 mini-monitor ($3450/pair) from British firm MAD (for My Audio Design). The 1920 is described as designer Timothy Jung's take on the classic BBC LS-3/5a theme, and while it didn't sound precisely like that hallowed box, it was pleasing in much the same way when driven by the 65 WpcClass-A Monoblock Reference power amps ($15,500/pair) and Control Preamplifier ($9500) from Pure Audio, a company founded by the previous principals of Plinius. Source components were the Platinum Data CD IV disc transport ($3995) and The Analog D/A converter ($6995) from MSB Technology, while cabling and power-distribution products were by Furutech.
These $3000 ear-speakers manufactured by the German division of Quad sure do look funny, but they made serious sound in the Headzone room. The Float-QA Headphones flanked gently down my temples and reproduced a carefree and natural delivery full of concert-hall realism. They require the accompanying Float QA-PSU to operate, and fit can be adjusted via a loose head strap. Though they felt a bit wobbly, I’m sure in a stable home setting, these things could easily let you drift away.
Colleen Murphy, whose first serious system was built around a pair of Klipschorns, prefers vinyl to all other formatsnot just for the superior sound, but for other, less tangible qualities. “It’s almost a ritual,” she said at NYAS 2013. “The inconvenience is one of the things that makes us give ourselves over to it.”
The first room I visited at the NY Audio Show was one of the best-sounding. The third of three rooms displaying brands sold by Manhattan retailer Sound by Singerclick here and here for our reports on the other twoit featured the world premier of Danish Manufacturer Raidho's D2 loudspeaker ($43,500/pair in black, $48,000/pair in gold walnut). The D2 combines the ribbon tweeter used in Raidho's well-regarded D1 minimonitor with two 4.5" woofers that use a diamond-coated cones.