They're so small, you'd almost have to bet they're class-D, but the $16,500/pair 300W MX-Rs are linear all the way. The tiny brutes were fed by Ayre's C-5xe universal player ($5950) and K-1x preamplifier ($8600 with phono section), and Ayre cables. The system, which included Vandersteen Quatro Wood speakers, sounded far more detailed and lithe than the MX-Rs did at CES. MAybe it's the smaller room, or maybe it's those Quatros. Heck, it could even be that Ayre's Charlie Hansen can't leave a good thing alone either.
Those who’ve admired the sound of the speakers from TAD, but could not get past the prices, will be interested in the new line from Pioneer, which use trickle-down versions of the TAD drivers and cabinets just slightly less elaborate in resonance-damping characteristics, and much lower prices ($6000 for the S-1EX pair on demo). Designer Andrew Jones is obviously pleased by the sound, as well he might be.
A CD player that combines the transport from a Sony PlayStation, an output section using rare New Old Stock tubes, and no remote control? That’s the DynaStation II CD player ($6000), said to have a cult following in Germany, and now imported by Avatar Acoustics. You can have it somewhat cheaper if you want less esoteric tubes, or pay more if you want even more esoteric ones. The system with Ascendo System E speakers, using the DynaStation II as the source, sounded really good, though.
11 AM Thursday, my first room at HE2005: I've just spent way over an hour listening to VTL gear in two completely different configurations. The first, in a hotel suite whose dimensions are similar to rooms in many smaller homes or larger apartments, paired the new VTL MB-450 monoblocks, TP6.5 phono preamp, and just upgraded Reference TL-7.5 linestage preamp with the Jadis JD1 Mk.II transport and JS 1 DAC, VPI Aries 3 turntable with JMW 10.5i tonearm and Benz LP cartridge, Wilson Sophia 2s, and Cardas cabling.
Music Direct was showing off two new turntables in the Avid line: the $4500 Volvere and the $7500 Sequel. The Volvere was developed by using the flagship model Acutus as its prototype and removing or downsizing only those elements that had the least effect on sound quality. Like the Acutus, the Volvere has adjustable suspension, adjustable horizontal damping, and a motor mount that keeps the subchassis and platter from dancing closer and further apart from one another(a common problem with many sprung subchassis models).
Gamut makes everything from source components to loudspeakers, so the Gamut room really was the Gamut room. Lars Goller designed the $14,800/pair l-7 three-way floorstanders and I was knocked out by how relaxed and natural acoustic music sounded though them. They looked fabulous, too.
I met Pete Roth, who owns an Ayre system, in, of all places, the Ayre/Vandersteen room, where he was checking out the MX-Rs. Pete says I'm his favorite Stereophile writer, so I'm now Pete's biggest fan. I posted his picture simply to prove to my wife that someone actually does read the stuff I'm always too busy working on to help with the chores.
I've never owned a set of headphones. Is that what they're called? Or should it be pair of headphones? Headphones? Earphones? I don't even know. I've stayed away from headphones for a couple of reasons: I don't like having things on my head or in my ears, and I actually do enjoy hearing the sounds around me — the banjos on the F train, the buses on Madison Avenue, the sirens around the corner, the construction in our hall. Oh, and the birdies chirping, too.
There are two tiny omnidirection mics on that sweet little thing — Belkin's TuneTalk Stereo ($69.99) — displayed here by Jackie Romulo. You can record stuff directly onto your iPod and play it back later. So, if you're a student at a sleepy lecture or a hack reporter like me, you have an instant cheat sheet.
David Wilson remarked that he debuted the original Wilson WATT (Wilson Audio Tiny Transducer) almost 20 years ago to the day. Today, he showed us the WATT/Puppy 8 ($27,900/pair). Wilson, as always, a polished presenter, also noted that it was appropriate for him to give the new speaker its premier in a city noted for producing sequels, although he promised that, unlike Hollywood sequels, the WATT/Puppies have gotten better with each new chapter.