Signals-SuperFi's Chris Sommovigo poses with the new Continuum Criterion turntable and Copperhead Tonearm ($51,500). Well, he is the importer, after all. However, he is also the designer and manufacturer of Stereovox cables, and he had new AC cables, speaker cables, and interconnects to tout— Dragon AC ($3500), Dragon speaker ($11,000/pair), and Dragon interconnect (tbd). Why didn't he pose with his stuff?
Several of Stereophile's editors were excited about the compact and inexpensive Audioengine 5 amplified speakers ($349/pair), which were bringing forth some sweet sounds playing files directly from a laptop. New to the Audioengine line is the tiny 2 (seen here, $199/pair), which offered a sound surprisingly similar to that of its bigger brother. The music was clean and clear, and conveyed an emotion that belied the speaker's size. Like the A5, the A2 keeps all of its electronics in the left speaker but, unlike the A5, it uses a front slot port for bass performance.
"That's an impressive soundstage for a two-way monitor," I thought looking at the diminutive Confidence C1 loudspeaker, but hearing a wide, deep soundstage. Dynaudio's 25 lb pound, two-way ($7000/pair plus $450/pair for two) features a 7" woofer and the Danish company's acclaimed Esotar2, 28mm, soft-dome tweeter. The drivers are mounted on a baffle that is said to be decoupled from the cabinet. Dynamic range was superb driven by Simaudio Moon W-7M monoblocks, thought JA, who thought that this system's reproduction of Stereophile's new Attention Screen CD was one of the best he heard at the Show.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.