T.H.E. Show Newport 2011

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Michael Lavorgna Posted: Jun 05, 2011 0 comments
Distributor Grant Fidelity was showing a bevy of products from China. On active display were the 89dB-sensitive Shengya V218 Wood Horn Monitors ($1900/pair), the Grant Fidelity W-30 Integrated All-In-One tube amp, which includes a built-in 24/192 DAC (though the DAC-part was not being used), a Consonance D-Linear 7 HD Interface ($1250), and a Consonance D-Linear8 Wireless HD D/A converter. Cables were the Grant Fidelity MRCA-1 Gold Coated Copper Reference Interconnects ($350/1m) and the Grant Fidelity MSC-2.5 Pure Copper Reference Speaker Cables ($450/2.5m).

A new line of electronics from Grant Fidelity called Psvane come with Treasure Tubes vacuum tubes from Grant Fidelity. These tubes are made in the Shuguang tube factory. Sitting on the outside of the other amps in the picture are the so-new-no-one-knows-about-'em Psvane T845 monoblock amplifiers ($8995/pair).

Michael Lavorgna Posted: Jun 05, 2011 0 comments
Yes, that ESS of Heil Air-Motion Transformer fame from the 1970s. On active display was a pair of the über-cool looking (especially nude) AMT Limited Edition loudspeakers ($5495/pair and pictured nearest to the side walls) which use the Heil Air-Motion Transformer for midrange and tweeter duties, while a 12" front-facing woofer and rear-firing passive radiator take care of the rest. The AMT Limited Editions were powered by a pair of CI Audio D-200 MkII monoblocks ($3500/pair), with a CI Audio PLC-1 MkII passive line controller ($900), CI Audio VDA-2 24-bit DAC ($599), and Sony NS3100ES SACD player following upstream. No one really wanted to talk abut cables here either.
Michael Lavorgna Posted: Jun 05, 2011 1 comments
PBN Audio is the brainchild of Peter Bichel Noerbaek and its line of equipment runs end-to-end. On exhibit were the Liberty Innerchoic Loudspeakers ($15,000/pair) that use 48 layers of MDF in an “eggcrate” construction on the interior walls to “absorb unwanted reflective sound waves”, the Olympia EB-SA1 ($15,000/each), named in honor of Erno Borbely, can be run as a stereo amp or monoblocks with the flip of a switch, the Olympia PX Phono stage ($20,000), Olympia LX line stage ($20,000) and the Groovemaster turntable ($10,000) sporting a 12" SME tonearm. Speaker cable and interconnects were the XLO Signature 3 and a 75ohm BNC cable was used between the line-stage and amplifier.

While there was no room treatment in sight and the Liberty Innerchoic loudspeakers were not exactly bass shy, there were no room issues that plagued some other exhibitors. My notes on the sound read—"groovy."

Michael Lavorgna Posted: Jun 05, 2011 5 comments
Dynamic Contrasts manufactures the RTS Racking System, an equipment-support system that squeezes the bad vibes out of your gear. Okay, so that’s my interpretation but if you want to know what they’re talking about, I’d recommend a visit to their website. A three-shelf RTS Racking System will run you $12,900 and each additional shelf adds $2200. It's difficult to see in this picture (you can see part of an empty rack on the right side in front of the speaker), but this rack is very unconventional and instead of having support shelves, it has support arms that clamp your gear in place. So in effect, your gear is not "sitting," it's being gripped in place. Sort of like a medieval kind of rack. . .
Michael Lavorgna Posted: Jun 05, 2011 0 comments
Albert von Schweikert was showing his factory-direct VR-33 speakers ($3750/pair) with Jolida electronics—Jolida JD 1000RC tube integrated amplifier ($2400) and the Jolida JD 100A vacuum-tube CD player ($1000). While I was in the room, we were treated to some real tape played by a United Home Audio UHA HQ open-reel deck (starting at $7998) and from my experience it’s really hard to make a decent tape sound bad. Interconnects and speaker cables were Master-Built Purple Line ($500/pair for the interconnects and $800/pair for the speaker cable).

With a system price of $8450 (not counting the tape deck), von Schweikert was calling his system “T.H.E. Show’s Best Value System,” at least on their literature, and I have no idea if that was the case or not (and I kinda doubt that anyone can know that kinda thing for sure). But I completely understand the impulse.

Michael Lavorgna Posted: Jun 05, 2011 0 comments
Antelope Audio is relatively new to the consumer audio market but relatively old to the pro audio market. Their first consumer product, the Zodiac line of DACs, is available in three levels—Silver ($1899), Black ($2899) and Gold ($4500). In use at T.H.E. Show was the Zodiac Gold with the optional Voltikus Analog Power Supply ($1000). Antelope Audio made their mark in the pro world with their jitter-free clocking products and they’ve brought this experience to the Zodiac line. The Gold features include a custom USB chip that streams audio up to 384kHz and the Antelope Oven Clock “for supreme stability.” Connections include: 2x headphone outputs on ¼" TRS, trimmable balanced analog outputs on XLR, unbalanced analog outputs on RCA, balanced analog Inputs on ¼" TRS, unbalanced analog Inputs on RCA, AES/EBU digital input, 2x S/PDIF coaxial Inputs, 2x optical Toslink inputs, USB on standard B type connector, Word Clock Input on BNC, de-jittered AES/EBU output, and de-jittered 2x S/PDIF outputs. Associated equipment in the room included. . .
Michael Lavorgna Posted: Jun 05, 2011 3 comments
Robert Lee of Acoustic Zen, one the most photogenic men in hi-fi, is shown here with his Crescendo loudspeakers ($16,000/pair) and electronics from Triode Corporation (Tri)—TRV-845SE amplifier ($6000), TRX-1 tube preamplifier ($3000), and the TRV-CD4SE tube CD player ($2200). Cables were from Acoustic Zen. I wrote down “gentle top end” in my scratch pad and that’s what I recall—this was an easy-to-like listen.
Michael Lavorgna Posted: Jun 04, 2011 0 comments
RSL Speaker Systems is a direct-sales only company, started by speaker designer Howard Rodgers, the head honcho of 1980s retailer/speaker manufacturer Rogersound Labs. RSL was showing the CG Stereo System speakers ($1250/pair including a Speedwoofer 10 subwoofer, stands optional) that use its "patented Compression Guide Technology," which appears to be concerned with eliminating cabinet resonance and helps make a subwoofer speedy. RSL refers to this system as a "2.1 approach" (sub/satellite) and they believe that this configuration allows for optimum placement/room integration. In fact, the subwoofer we were hearing was not the one we were seeing—the Speedwoofer 10 (also available separately for $750) up front was on static display while the one in-use was hidden under a table on the opposite wall. RSL was using the PrimaLuna ProLogue Two integrated amp ($1999), which delivers 40Wpc from a quad of KT-88s, and the Acoustic Research CD5 ($5995).
Michael Lavorgna Posted: Jun 04, 2011 0 comments
The complete system from German manufacturer Lindemann was news to me. Comprised of the 825 High Definition Disc Player ($9900), 830S Stereo Control Amplifier ($9900), 855 Dual-mono Power Amplifier ($13,900) and the BL-10 (Dixie!) loudspeakers ($11,000/pair) this system was graceful and very easy to like. Sounds like more.
Michael Lavorgna Posted: Jun 04, 2011 2 comments
To suggest that Vincent Audio pushes the boundaries of taste in some of its ads is, I think, not overstating the obvious, and using women as props to sell hi-fi gear is probably not the best way to get more women interested in the hobby if that’s what you’re interested in doing. But hey, I’m all for enthusiasm and it takes all forms.

The hybrid tube/solid-state Vincent SP-T800 200W monoblock amplifiers ($2499.95/pair) were on display along with the Vincent SA-T8 preamp (2349.95), the PS Audio Perfect Wave DAC ($2999.99), a Thorens TD 2030 turntable ($3699) and the very refined “The Kiss” speakers ($15,000/pair w/stands) from Vienna Acoustic’s Klimt Series. The lovely and from what I’ve heard talented Jessi Monroe was also in the Vincent Audio room signing autographs. You may recall Jesse from Stephen Mejias’ Axpona Atlanta coverage.

Michael Lavorgna Posted: Jun 04, 2011 3 comments
While there was nothing new to report on in the Audio Engine room, at least nothing I could tell you and let you live, it’s always worth reporting on the inexpensive and even better than good-sounding-for-the-money AudioEngine speakers. Our daughters each have a pair of the AudioEngine 2.0s ($199/pair) for use with their iDevices and even they brag about the sound quality.
Michael Lavorgna Posted: Jun 04, 2011 0 comments
Inex’s innovation involves the use of fiber-optic cable in its A200 preamp ($12500) and Inex CD Player ($7500). The Inex A100 monoblock amplifiers ($14,000/pair) were manhandling a pair of Märten Heritage Getz speakers ($20,000/pair) at light speed. Of course this could only be possible if the cables were up to task and luckily the Harmonic Technology Photon Amp interconnects ($2000/1.5m pair) use “analog domain laser and fiber optic technology” to convert the audio signal to light pulses and back again.
Michael Lavorgna Posted: Jun 04, 2011 0 comments
Do you see that picture of Zu Audio’s Sean Casey? See him smiling? I took a whole bunch of pictures in the Zu room and I’ll be damned if Sean isn’t smiling in every one. Part of the reason he’s smiling, I’m guessing, is because he’s enjoying himself and the music he’s spinning on those tricked out Technics turntables (Rega RB700 tonearms “with nuts” and Zu Denon 301 cartridges). In the brief time I was there we heard Beck, The Silver Jews, and Steve Earle on the Zu Soul Superfly loudspeakers ($3000/pair), with the Audion Silver Knight integrated amp and a Rane pre/mixer. You can't see it in the picture but I was smiling too.

One other way to get more people interested in this wonderful hobby of ours is to have fun listening to great music and to show it.

Michael Lavorgna Posted: Jun 04, 2011 0 comments
The GamuT room was chock-full of gear from GamuT, LA Audio, and Triangle Art Turntables. In use was the GamuT M250 monoblocks ($20,995/pair), GamuT D31 preamp ($7500), GamuT CD3 ($6500), the M’inenT M7 loudspeakers ($17,000/pair), and the Triangle Art Reference Turntable ($20,995). While the sound from this system was intriguing in a visceral way, there was too much speaker and power for this poor little battered hotel room to handle. Even though the speakers were angled way in to avoid room boundary reinforcement, there was still some sonic boom.

I heard a number of exhibitors complaining about the bass issues caused by these rooms, oddly not so much from the subwoofer guys, so it's worth repeating that old show report caveat—we’re only talking about a very brief listen to unfamiliar components in unfamiliar systems in typically lousy rooms at times involving typically lousy music (albeit well-recorded), so I try to keep personal commentary on sound quality to a minimum.

Michael Lavorgna Posted: Jun 04, 2011 1 comments
A new-to-me line of battery-powered electronics from Veloce Audio from Ambler, PA, coupled to the YG Acoustics Carmel speakers ($18,000/pair) made some convincingly lovely music from vinyl and digital. The Veloce gear included the Platino Series—LS1 linestage ($15,000), LP-1 Phono Module, which gets its power from the LS-1 but a stand-alone version is in the works, and the 120W into 8 ohms, class-D Platino V6 monoblock amplifier (projected price $14,000/pair). If the idea of batteries runs you down, the LS1 linestage can run for a claimed 100 hours on a charge and the V6 for 40 hours. Front end duties were handled by an Amazon 1 turntable and the PS Audio Perfect Wave Transport ($2999.99) and DAC ($2999.99). I’d have rounded the prices one way or another if I was PS Audio but I’m not.

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