On Saturday night, Bay Area Audiophile Society coordinator Bob Walters gave me a list of rooms he urged me to visit. Since two were on the 10th floor of the Marriott Tower, on which I had not yet set foot, I resolved to check both out. I'm glad I did. The tenth floor of the Marriott was like a gold mine. All I had to do was walk down the hall to the next room, and more glorious sound awaited me.
I was surprised not only by the ease to the sound of my hi-rez audio files played on the system in the Wavelength room, but also by the resolution. Surprised, because I am not naturally a tube guy, and not only is Gordon Rankin's gear tubed, it is unshamedly single-ended.
I was very happy to finally meet Modwright Instruments' Dan Wright, possibly best known for his Modwright "Truth" modifications to popular components such as the Sony '9000ES universal player and Logitech Transporter.
The more I hear Vandersteen Audio's loudspeakers, the more I find myself admiring their relaxed, controlled, natural sound. Richard Vandersteen, the fighter pilot featured in a recent banner ad on this website, was happy to present his Quattro Signature Mk.2 ($11,700/pair). It utilizes a 6.5" mid-bass driver derived from the Vandersteen Model 5A and sounded exquisite driven by Ayre amplification.
Putting together a loudspeaker kit may be an art of an older generation. I had model airplanes and cars, but I often hear older audiophiles talk about the first loudspeaker they ever built. It always kind of freaks me out.
And here's that sexy Modwright-modified "Truth" Transporter with its tubed analog stage. Transporter owners can have their units modified for $2000, plus shipping; Modwright provides new units for $3800. All Modwright modifications are only available factory-direct.
Joachim Gerhard kneels beside his very attractive Amerigo loudspeaker ($5500/pair). The Amerigo is a 3-way bass reflex design with a 0.8" dome ring radiator tweeter and proprietary 6" midrange and 8" bass drivers. Gerhard uses expensive birch plywood because he feels it sounds better than MDF.
More beautiful woodwork was found in the Daedalus Audio suite. The Ulysses ($10,950/pair; add $500 for matching plinths) is Daedalus Audio's top-of-the-line speaker. It uses a 1" Eton dome tweeter, two 5" custom-modified Fostex midrange units, and two 8" proprietary woofers, and has a rated sensitivity of 97dB.
Talk about effortless. Another room which I thought offered superb sound was occupied by Moscode, Von Schweikert, Esoteric, Placette, PS Audio, and Cardas. I think I heard the most beautiful music of all that reproduced at the Rocky Mountain Audio Fest in this very room. I don't even know what was playing, but what this system excelled at was communicating the all-important space between the notes.