"Our Asian and Pacific clients were strongly requesting it," said Mark Levinson's Walter Schofield, VP of Sales and Marketing, "so we designed an amplifier in the older Mark Levinson tradition with external heats."
While Day 1 at the Venetian was all hustle and bustle, the atmosphere at the Las Vegas Hilton was something different, was almost contemplative. Navigating the Venetian halls was an exercise in agility. I found myself weaving in and out of massive traffic with a skill perhaps common only to a weary New Yorker, making quick and random stops to chat friends and colleagues. But when I arrived at the Hilton, the silenceas we like to saywas palpable.
Meridian has completely redone its Signature Reference 808 CD player, now the 808.2 ($14,995). "We've changed its drive, drive navigation software, power supply, DSP, and clocking and buffering. I'd like to say that the only thing we've retained is the case, but we've improved that, too," said Bob Stuart.
KEF would begin their multi-room demo with their small, but surprisingly room-filling, KHT home theater range and work their way up from there. The stunning KEF Muons would be the great and final attraction of the KEF event, and they were all I was looking forward to, really. However, the highlight of the show turned out to be the brilliant sound of the Reference 201/2 stand-mounted speakers ($6000/pair). I was instantly reminded of the remarkable performance of the much larger Reference 207/2s, which I recently experienced in JA's listening room and which are now gracing our February cover. The music brought forth was captivating, seductive, gorgeous.
I was so impressed by the 9" Feastrex drivers designed by Haruhiko "Hal" Teramoto of Japan that I was excited to hear how the 5" Feastrex DF Monster alnico driver sounds in MaxxHorn's new Lumination loudspeaker. The speaker, which also incorporates the Tractrix horn technology developed by Johan van Zyl, is so new—the pair at THE Show had been finished a mere 12 days before—that only the dealer price ($18,500/pair) has been set. All speakers are hand constructed, with 3–5 pairs produced a month.
One of the highlights of RMAF 2007 was encountering Lou Hinkley's Daedalus Audio Ulysses loudspeakers ($8800/pair) in the ART Audio room. Here, paired with Gill Audio Designs Alana preamp ($5000) and Elise DAC ($6000), an Ensemble transport, Clayton M-200 power amps ($9500/pair), and relatively inexpensive Empirical Design cabling, the system was arresting in its transparency and three-dimensionality.
Several rooms this year are sporting 1/4" reel to reel decks as source components. The Tape Project has caught on with exhibitors in the Venetian including Pioneer/TAD & Magico. Representatives from TTP were often spotted hauling reel to reel tapes, along with the machines that play them (such as this modified Technics 1600) up and down the halls.
Esoteric unveiled its new X-05 SACD/CD player ($5600), which employs a new VRDS-NEO "VMK-5" drive mechanism that includes a precision machined aluminum turntable and a polycarbonate clamping mechanism. The VMK-5 is said to be extremely rigid and optimized for SACD's high-rotation speeds.
The Lyngdorf Server 1 is a music and video server had us drooling. Lyngdorf, of course, loves to keep signals digital until the last millimeter, building DACs into their active DSP-driven loudspeakers. The Server 1 sounded great—there was just one problem: It isn't available. Yet.
"The best loudspeaker on earth!" proclaimed the sign for the YG Acoustics Limited Exhibit. The company's founder, designer, and CEO, the ever-upbeat Yoav Geva, was just as proud as the papa of his new $33,000/pair "Kipod" floorstanding speaker. And proud he should be. "Kipod means hedgehog," he told me, "which is my daughter's nickname because of her hairstyle."
Wes Phillips, Stephen Mejias, and Kal Rubinson join San Antonio, Texas retailer Galen Carol on the way to the Venetian. As Galen explained to us, high end retailing is a bit of a challenge, but still viable to dealers that take care of their customers and offer old fashioned service.
"What have you heard that’s good at THE Show?" I asked the fabulous Kara E. Chaffee of deHavilland Electronics. "I'm heading to Joe Cohen's The Lotus Group,” she replied. "I've been told I've got to hear the new Feastrex speakers."