CAS 2011

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Stephen Mejias Posted: Jul 19, 2011 0 comments
Made in Sweden and now represented in the US by SimpliFi Audio, the DLS Flatbox on-wall loudspeakers come in five sizes (Mini, far right: $249 each; Midi, center: $349 each; Slim Large; Large; and XL, far left: $499 each), can be hung horizontally or vertically, and are available in variations of white and black cabinets and grilles. There are also three subwoofers, including the Flatsub8 ($799), used in the room. Partnered with Resolution Audio’s Opus 21 system and inexpensive DNM cables, the speakers threw a surprisingly wide stage, despite being mounted on temporary plywood walls. As we went up the line, I noted greater bass extension, but the Midi version seemed best balanced with the room and subwoofer.
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Stephen Mejias Posted: Jul 19, 2011 0 comments
The attractive Fritz Speakers Carbon 7 ($1750/pair) were matched with ModWright KWA 100SE power amplifier ($3995), ModWright LS 100 tube preamplifier ($3495), Esoteric SA60 universal disc player ($4995), Zesto Audio Andros PS1 MM/MC phono stage ($3900), and Thorens TD 309 turntable ($1900). WyWires provided the speaker cables ($1299), interconnects ($849-$1299), and power cords ($329). Room treatment was by GIK Acoustics and ASC. Steve Blinn Designs contributed the equipment rack ($1899). Billie Holiday’s Songs for Distingué Lovers (priceless) provided the mood.
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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 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 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 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 16, 2011 2 comments
When the hell did Wilson Audio’s Peter McGrath become so hip? Has the old dude been subscribing to The Wire, hanging out in Greenpoint, going to noise-rock shows in abandoned warehouses?

McGrath used a system comprising Wilson Audio Sasha loudspeakers, gorgeous D’Agostino Momentum monoblock amplifiers, Sooloos Control 15, dCS Debussy DAC, Transparent Audio cables, and ASC Tube Traps to demo music from Pan Sonic to James Blake to Nicolas Jaar.

Nicolas Jaar? Peter McGrath? What the hell? Where am I?

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Stephen Mejias Posted: Jul 16, 2011 0 comments
Typically, the mere thought of digitizing my vinyl is enough to give me the heebie-jeebies—the process can be so tedious and time-consuming—but after watching Channel D’s Rob Robinson quickly and easily set track markers on a virtual LP using his clever Pure Vinyl software ($229), I imagined that even I could have fun with it.

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