In one of three NYAS rooms sponsored by the Manhattan dealer Rhapsody Music & Cinema, a pair of Vivid G3 Giya loudspeakers ($40,000/pair) sounded colorful, spacious, and well-textured with a pair of mono amps ($15,000) and a line-level preamp ($10,000) from the new Dutch company Mola Mola. (The company’s chief designer, late of Philips BV, is said to be the originator of “universal Class-D.”) Digital files supplied by Vivid’s and Mola Mola’s distributor, the reliable Philip O’Hanlonhe never fails to make my Top Five list of people who bring the best music to the showwere played on Luxman’s DSD-friendly DA06 converter ($6000).
Robert Baird mentioned the seminar program presented at the New York Audio Show by The Sound Organisation. I applaud the Chester Group for featuring educational sessions like these at the Show. At the session I attended, renowned recording engineer Jim Anderson (above), past president of the Audio Engineering Society and Chair of the Clive Davis Department of Recorded Music at New York University's Tisch School for the Arts, compared the original and revised versions of Patricia Barber's Cafe Blue, as well as playing tracks from her new album Smash, which he mixed at Skywalker Sound. The system featured a pair of active MB2S-A monitors from English company PMC, with their distinctive dome midrange units, fed audio from a PrismSound Orpheus DAC and a MacBook Pro.
Art Dudley browses the LP racks at the Quality Record Pressings booth. Photo: Ariel Bitran.
One of the fun sidelights of any audio show is visiting the rooms or booths of the high-end vinyl dealers who attend and, in that regard, the New York Audio Show 2013 was no exception. I spent much of the first day either listening to records via the Classic Album Sundays room with Colleen Murphy, talking about new releases with David Chesky (who I will get to in a moment), or thumbing through juicy looking new and reissue vinyl and DVDs at the booths of Acoustic Sounds, AIX Records, and SoundStageDirect.com.
As an unabashed fan of amplifiers that use EL34 output tubes in Ultralinear circuitsan output architecture that, to my ears, almost always sounds colorful, well-textured, and believably lushI was delighted that, in the VPI suite, a trio (!) of Joseph Audio Pearl loudspeakers were powered by a trio (!) of Citation 2 monoblock amplifiers from VAS Audio ($3000/pairwhich, I guess, translates into $4500 for three). The Citation 2, which offers 50Wpc in Ultralinear but can also be switched to triode mode for 25Wpc, also uses 12AX7 and 12AU7 small-signal tubes, plus a 5AR4 rectifier, and its specially wound output transformers are said to be vacuum-potted.
Belgian manufacturer Venture, whose products are distributed in the US by Precision Audio & Video, was demming its new Vici 2.1 loudspeaker ($36,000/pair), driven by Venture V200A+ MOSGET monoblocks ($120,000/pair), a Venture VP100L preamp ($35,100), and reinforced below 60Hz by a pair of Venture AW500 active woofers ($12,000 each), which each use two 10" drivers. Front-end was the XX High End music player running on a Windows laptop feeding a Weiss Medea FireWire DAC ($21,799). Cables were all Grand Reference Diamond and Diamond Signature.
Tentatively named the JMW-3D (the suffix refers to the modeling technology used to create its high-tech tooling), VPI's new one-piece tonearm wand/headshell/bearing housing is molded from epoxy resin, which promises to resist sound-coloring resonances while remaining comparatively immune to the problem of energy storage. Although pricing has yet to be determined, VPI's Harry Weisfeld suggests that the arm may be expensive at first, although he hopes that prices may moderate as the production process itself becomes less expensive. The new arm is seen here on a prototype of the VPI Classic Direct, a direct-drive turntable based on the Classic chassis (projected price: ca $20,000).
Audio Doctor also demonstrated a relatively affordable (there goes that bar of soap again) Euro-fi system, with Waterfall Hurricane loudspeakers ($1600/pair), an Electrocompaniet 6DS integrated amplifier ($7500, offstage), and an Electrocompaniet EMC-1UP Red Book CD player ($7290).
Heard at the NYAS with a Leben CS600 integrated amplifier and an Arcam CD73 CD player, the smartly styled desktop loudspeakers from Well Rounded Sound impressed me far more than at previous shows. Their standard Corgi model ($799/pair), used in parallel with a pair of their passive Woof 4 woofers ($399 each) were surprisingly engaging on the Jimmy Cobb Quartet's Jazz in the Key of Blue: explicit without being bright, with decent color and impact. At NYAS 2013, Well Rounded also debuted two new models: the Jack Terrier SE ($349/pair, shown on the left) and the Corgi Mini ($399/pair, shown on the right).
Because I know Wes Bender and E.A.R.’s Dan Meinwald are always open to new sounds, I took the opportunity in the Wes Bender Studio room to play the title cut from Aidan Baker’s latest release, Already Drowning.
Many attendees at the New York Audio Show 2013 were afraid to admit they were audiophiles, opting for complicated explanations about their passion for music. Yet, what is just so scary about being an audiophile? I walked around asking folks the next day, "What is an audiophile?" in hopes to discover just what it meant.
Woo Audio’s WA7 Firefly headphone amp ($999) uses a pair of 6C45 power tubes in a single-ended, class-A design, and employs a Texas Instruments PSM5102A 32-bit DAC chip. Around back, a USB input is specified to support 32-bit/192kHz playback, while a single set of RCA jacks are switchable for use as analog inputs or D/A outs.
The highly interactive Woo Audio room opened their doors to anyone who could pick up a set of headphones. Here a young audiophile listens to a new Woo headphone amp prototype, the GES MkII. Compared to the original GES, the Mk.II has a “wider voltage swing for greater speed and dynamic range.” It will be available for approximately $3500.
Woo Audio was SM's favorite listening experience at the show. Read more here
“To limit yourself to just vinyl,” says Audioarts’ Gideon Schwartz, “would be ridiculous.”
It’s not that Schwartz doesn’t like vinylseveral LPs were scattered about the beautiful demo room, said to have been the office of Leona Helmsleybut he simply believes that a good system should work well with all music formats, and more, should sound good in many different rooms.
Ariel Bitran is better than I when it comes to photographing shiny, black loudspeakers in rooms with less than generous lighting. Consequently, although I enjoyed the music I heard at the second of two GTT Audio rooms from YG Acoustic Kipod II loudspeakers ($38,800/pair), I succeeded in photographing only the Veloce Saetta monoblock amplifiers ($18,000/pair) that were used to drive them. No loss there: The always interesting Veloce electronicswhich, for this demonstration, included their LS-1 line-level preamplifier ($18,000)represent some very cool technology. Both the tubed (6H30) preamp and the hybrid (tubed input, solid-state output, 400Wpc) amps are battery powered, offering 40-hour listening sessions on a single charge and an estimated battery life of 10 years. A digital file of Hugh Masekela, played from a Luxman DA06 D/A converter ($6000), sounded both open and colorful, and a recording of the Saint-Saens Danse Macabre (orchestra and conductor unknown) had me thinking more about music than gear by the time I had to leave the room.