CAS 2011

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Stephen Mejias Posted: Jul 19, 2011 0 comments
In another large, difficult ballroom, beautifully finished LumenWhite Artisan loudspeakers ($45,000/pair) were mated to the 250W, class-A Ayon Orthos 2 monoblock power amplifiers. The source was Ayon’s CD5S ($11,380), which combines a tube preamp with a tube DAC and transport. Cables were the Swiss-made Vovox. The system created a large sound to match the large room, with big-hearted bass.
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Stephen Mejias Posted: Jul 19, 2011 0 comments
A packed and captivated audience in the MBL room.

I was delighted to see so many people at the 2011 California Audio Show so attentively listening to music, as though listening to music on the hi-fi in 2011 is as much of an event as watching an episode of “True Blood” on Sunday night, or attending a concert at a music hall. Of course, we know that listening to music on the hi-fi is a special event, an active, enriching, and entertaining experience, worthy of our time and energy for the joy and nourishment it brings our minds and souls. It’s a lot of fun. If you were present at the California Audio Show, you experienced this.

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Stephen Mejias Posted: Jul 18, 2011 0 comments
The Finite Elemente Soundboard ($995) is available in six lacquer finishes and a lovely walnut, and comes with wall brackets for easy mounting. You can hang it anywhere, just as you would a shelf. In fact, the Soundboard is a shelf—a shelf that sings. There are four down-firing speakers, two front-firing speakers, a top-panel iPod charging dock, and line and USB inputs for use with televisions and computers.

We ported an iPhone and listened for a moment to a track off of Norah Jones’ Come Away with Me. The sound was surprisingly good and detailed. I think the Soundboard would look great in guest rooms or offices.

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Stephen Mejias Posted: Jul 18, 2011 0 comments
Rushing around at the end of Saturday, I spent too little time in the room hosted by Redwood City’s Loggie Audio, but, having heard similar setups at recent shows, the sound was what I remembered from Aaudio Imports’ Acapella Violoncello loudspeakers, Ypsilon amplification, and Bergmann turntable: awesome scale, well-extended highs, and a clarity that puts you there with the musicians.

Also on display in this room were updated versions of Einstein’s The Final Cut OTL monoblock amplifier and The Tube preamp. More on these come October at the Rocky Mountain Audio Fest.

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Stephen Mejias Posted: Jul 18, 2011 0 comments
I almost missed the High Value Audio room—it was sort of tucked away, down a long corridor and hidden by the hotel’s West Bay Café (great breakfasts!)—but I’m glad I found it because the sound in here was sweet and inviting, playing an acoustic guitar and vocals piece that just soothed my soul.
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Stephen Mejias Posted: Jul 17, 2011 Published: Jul 18, 2011 0 comments
Walking down the short, narrow corridor which led to the block of rooms hosted by Audio Vision was sort of like walking down the short, narrow length of Lucky 7 Tavern on a Saturday night: It was loud, crowded, and people kept asking me if I wanted a beer.

There sure is a lot of drinking going on at this show, I thought to myself.

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Stephen Mejias Posted: Jul 17, 2011 0 comments
In the much smaller Music Lovers/Musical Surroundings room, we heard a sound very different from what we heard in the previous, massive ballroom.
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Stephen Mejias Posted: Jul 17, 2011 2 comments
From left: Barbara Lamb Hall, Melanie Berzon, and Sybil Bolivar of San Mateo’s listener-supported KCSM, 91.1FM. Not only is KCSM one of Sam Tellig’s favorite spots on the FM dial, it’s one of the last all-jazz stations in the world.
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Stephen Mejias Posted: Jul 17, 2011 0 comments
The smallest Audio Vision room held the smallest system:

Bel Canto e.One CD 2 CD player ($2995), Bel Canto C5i integrated amp/DAC ($1995), Bel Canto e.One 1000 MkII monoblock power amplifiers ($6000/pair), Bel Canto e.One DAC3.5VB ($4945), Anthony Gallo 3.5 Reference loudspeakers ($5999/pair), Clearaudio Concept turntable ($1400) with Clearaudio Aurum Beta Wood cartridge ($575), Cardas Clear Light speaker cable ($1039/2m pair) and interconnects ($692/1m pair), and Quadraspire Q4 Evo equipment rack.

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Stephen Mejias Posted: Jul 17, 2011 0 comments
Too often I’m more impressed by a system’s high price than by its high performance. But, in the case of this MBL system, the $260,000 price tag seemed completely understandable. I’m also fascinated by how a system’s sound can be transported from room to room, show to show, across oceans and states. The MBL system I heard at the California Audio Show sounded a lot like the MBL system I heard at the Munich High End Show—a good thing, indeed.
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Stephen Mejias Posted: Jul 17, 2011 3 comments
There are other examples: Bon Iver’s For Emma, Forever Ago, Iron & Wine’s Our Endless Numbered Days, Feist’s Let it Die, Fleet Foxes’ self-titled debut, and the XX’s XX come to mind. All of these albums were darlings of the indie pop scene and embraced by audiophiles. (What the?)
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Stephen Mejias Posted: Jul 17, 2011 1 comments
1. I had never seen speakers spread so far apart.
2. I had never seen a room that could make the Wilson Audio MAXX Series 3 loudspeakers look small.
3. By 4pm on Saturday afternoon, which is when I made it to this room, just about everyone at the California Audio Show was in a very loose mood (and getting looser).
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Stephen Mejias Posted: Jul 17, 2011 10 comments
Though they were also seen at the Munich Show, Magico’s Q1 monitors ($24,950/pair) are making their US debut here at the California Audio Show. The speaker incorporates much of the technology and design philosophy used in Magico’s Q5, reviewed by Mikey Fremer, but puts it in a smaller package. Like the Q5 and Q3, the Q1 is a sealed-box design with extensive internal bracing.
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Stephen Mejias Posted: Jul 16, 2011 0 comments
Napa Acoustic seemed to have a million and one pretty little things on display.

We listened to the Mistral 35Wpc MT-34 tubed integrated amplifier ($1199) and Mistral BOW-A3 loudspeakers ($1699/pair). Delivering a violin piece, the system created a thrilling sound, full of speed and sibilance.

Moving to the larger, 4-way BOW-A2 loudspeakers ($2299/pair) and 150Wpc MM6 hybrid integrated amplifier resulted in a darker tonal balance, with just as much speed and better image focus.

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Stephen Mejias Posted: Jul 15, 2011 Published: Jul 16, 2011 0 comments
I had no idea that the very first room I’d enter would offer such exquisite sound and music. I was in Bob Hodas’s Acoustic Analysis room and The Tape Project was spinning the Bill Evans Trio, the Sonny Rollins Quartet, Kenny Burrell & John Coltrane, and so much soul.

It was a packed room of bobbing heads and tapping toes, unable to resist the smooth, smooth flow. Here was a lively sound, a vibrant sound, a sweet, flowing, blooming, effortless sound, marked by so much body and heart and an absolutely wonderful sense of timing.

The system:

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