Todd Eichenbaum, design engineer at Krell, walked me through the design of their new amplifier, the $10,500, 300Wpc 302. The power supply employs a 3kVA toroidal transformer, built-in power conditioning, a current-mirror input stage, a push-pull driver stage, and low negative feedback (8dB) around the output stage. It was paired with the $10,000 Evolution 222 stereo preamplifier.
Well, few people have. In a stunning collaborative effort, Rives Audio, RPG, Modex, Talon, VAC, Wadia, XLO, and Silent Running set up two rooms designed to demonstrate that even the best audio components need a little help from intelligently applied digital EQ and room treatment. Two rooms, almost mirror images of one another, with essentially the same system—only one room used EQ and treatment and the other didn't.
Here's the system rundown: Wadia 581i disc player ($9450), 100Wpc VAC Alpha integrated amplifier ($10,000), Talon Thunderhawk loudspeakers ($25,000/pair), XLO Signature 2 interconnects ($00/m). XLO Signature 2 speaker cable ($2700/2m), XLO Argentum XP3 power conditioner ($600), and Silent Running Craz Reference isoRACK ($6000, as configured here).
As you can see from Larry Greenhill's photo, Chord's RED Reference CD player ($28,500) is one sexy piece of kit. The gleaming metalwork, the sturdy clamshell clamp, its swooping lines—it's just gizmoidally drool-worthy.
Late Sunday afternoon, with only about an hour left before the show closed, it was still standing room only in the Music Hall room. Perhaps that had something to do with the choice of music. I walked in to be greeted by the naughty sounds of the Bear Family Records compilation, Eat to the Beat: the dirtiest of them dirty blues, featuring song titles I can't even mention here.
Masataka Tsuda designs and manufactures both Concert Fidelity and Silicon Arts components. What's the diff? Concert Fidelity is his tube line; Silicon Arts Design represents his thinking on—you guessed it—solid-state.
The Audioengine team is also looking at alternative cabinet materials. On display was a prototype A5 housed in lovely, sustainable bamboo. While the electronics remain the same, the bamboo models will incorporate added dampening.
Krell Industries' new Modulare Duo loudspeaker system was the one active exhibit in their suite, playing music from an excellent sampler of audiophile favorites. Todd Eichenbaum, shown standing next to the $35,000/pair, 300 lb system, explained that the separate woofer and satellite units were made of machined billet aluminum, as with Krell's original LAT-1 speaker system, but the Modulare’s drivers and passive crossover circuitry have been designed for higher current handling. The low-frequency cabinet contains three 8" aluminum-cone woofers, while the satellite section marries a 1" ScanSpeak ring-radiator tweeter, and a 6.5" aluminum-cone midrange driver.
We trucked across the hall to the treated room which contained several sets of RPG Variscreen free-standing variable acoustics screen ($700/each), a Modex Plate ($1000)—which offers broadband low frequency absorbtion from 50–500Hz—and two Rives Audio Sub-PARC crossover/EQs ($4500/each). The system also boasted an extra pair of VAC Alphas—Richard Rives explained that he was using the Sub-PARCs as crossovers, bypassing their digital woofer amps to kep the signals equivalent from top to bottom.
Indeed, there were nice things from Sweden in the Sjofn HiFi room. I didn't get a taste of the snittar (Swedish finger sandwiches), but I was very impressed by the powerful bass and deep, wide soundstage created by the diminutive Guru loudspeakers. As Wes mentioned, the Gurus were designed with the room in mind, and are meant to be placed near room boundaries.
I never miss the John Atkinson Trio's performances. I like to watch my friends play music and it's a great chance to bond with my fellow audiophiles for an hour or so. But this year wasn't like other years—the boys just flat-out smoked! Allen Perkins of Immedia, already one of my favorite drummers, has been studying with Peter Erskine for a few years and he has burned away any clutter (not that there was much) and is now even more purely him than ever. Bob Reina's regular gigging with Attention Screen has focused his strengths and, I suspect, freed him from having to express everything he has to say every time out. He's playing freer, looser, and tighter than ever. And JA (photographed here by Bob Deutsch), I suspect he's been woodshedding. With editing Stereophile, producing records, and measuring every component we review, where does he find the time?