NY Audio & AV 2012

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John Atkinson Posted: Apr 18, 2012 Published: Apr 19, 2012 0 comments
The MBL room was the last room I visited at the NY Audio & AV Show. I sat down in the sweet spot, on the couch midway between the MBL 101E Mk.2 "radialstrahler" speakers, each driven by a 9011 monoblock; Jeremy Bryan cued up a hi-rez file of Peter Gabriel singing "Wallflower," from his New Blood album; and OMG. This was true virtual reality! Then Jeremy explained what he had to do to tame the room's acoustics—see Ariel Bitran's blog following this one. All I can say is that it was worth the effort!
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Ariel Bitran Posted: Apr 19, 2012 9 comments
Prior to the onset of the Chester Group’s New York Audio & AV Show, there had been some controversy in regards to big-time local dealers Stereo Exchange and Lyric hosting their own events the weekend of the show. These events brought in big brands such as Totem, McIntosh, B&W, and Audio Research, who would be presenting exclusively at their stores. Would these dealer events keep participants away from the New York Audio & AV Show? How would these coinciding events affect one another? Were these signs that the show organizers had not done the work necessary to motivate exhibitors to participate in the New York show?

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Ariel Bitran Posted: Apr 18, 2012 Published: Apr 19, 2012 1 comments
Long lines flooded out of the MBL room on the 18th Floor of the Waldorf=Astoria all weekend long, so I arrived at 9:30am on Sunday morning to see if I could get a good listen to the MBL system by myself. Upon arrival, MBL North America’s representative, Jeremy Bryan, was still setting up his smaller speakers, the mbl 120 Radialstrahler ($21,400/pair, without stands) along with their mbl C21 stereo power amplifier ($9200), mbl C11 preamplifier ($8,800), and mbl C31 CD player ($9,200), all members of their Corona line of electronics.

I sat to the side of the room while Bryan finished his set-up, centered in his listening position, tilting his head back and forth. After the first ten seconds of four to five different demo tracks, Jeremy blurted, “Alright! I think we’re set. Come sit down.”

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Ariel Bitran Posted: Apr 18, 2012 0 comments
In the LessLoss Audio room, a gorgeous couple of Kaiser Vivace loudspeakers painted in a Lamborghini Orange finish ($42,500 in painted semi-gloss, add $2500 for the Lambo paint job) paired with electronics from Beyond Frontiers Audio, including their Tulip Tube DAC converter, which runs in a dual mono state with 2 Burr Brown chips, and the Tulip Stereo Integrated amplifier. Tulip, in the designer’s former country of Yugoslavia, is a friendly name for a “good old guy”. Cabling and “ambient field conditioning” in this room were provided by LessLoss, who offered their Anchorwave cables and Blackbody ambient field conditioner. The Blackbody claims to “enhance audio playback quality by modifying the interaction of your gear’s circuitry with the ambient electromagnetic field.”
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John Atkinson Posted: Apr 18, 2012 0 comments
I had seen and heard a prototype of the Light Harmonic's Da Vinci DAC at the 2011 Axpona Show, but the 2012 NY Show saw the debut of the production version of this unique $20,000 DAC, which handle data with sample rates up to 384kHz over an asynchronous USB 2.0 link. Demmed in a system comprising Wilson Sasha W/P speakers, driven by a Pass Labs X100.5 amplifier and XP20 preamp, with all-MIT cabling, wit data sourced from an iPad-controlled Mac mini, the Da Vinci produced a sound that thrilled. A 384k-sampled recording of voice and acoustic guitar by Cookie Marenco sounded palpably real. I am planning on reviewing the Da Vinci in the late fall.
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John Atkinson Posted: Apr 18, 2012 0 comments
I moderated two "Ask the Editors" sessions at the NY Show, where reviewers and editors were put on the spot by probing questions from the audience. My thanks to (from left to right): Alan Sircom (HiFi+, not visible), Stephen Mejias (Stereophile), Jeff Dorgay (ToneAudio), Alan Taffel (The Absolute Sound), Michael Fremer (Stereophile and AnalogPlanet.com), Grant Clauser (Electronic House), and Art Dudley (Stereophile and Fretboard Journal) for their often frank and always informative answers.
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John Atkinson Posted: Apr 18, 2012 0 comments
Driving the Legacy Focus SE speakers was this beautiful tube integrated amp from Ayon, the Triton 3 ($12,000).
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John Atkinson Posted: Apr 18, 2012 0 comments
The "Beyond Frontiers" refers to the fact that the company's designer was responsible for some of the well-respected Sonic Frontiers products from a decade ago. This is the Beyond Frontiers tubed balanced D/A processor, which was being used as the source in the LessLoss room.
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John Atkinson Posted: Apr 18, 2012 2 comments
Was how this Stereophile-sponsored event Saturday and Sunday afternoons was billed. Mikey demonstrated to a packed house how straightforward it is to optimize the performance of an LP player. Close-ups of his work on a VPI turntable fitted with a Soundsmith cartridge were projected on to a screen so all could see what he was doing and why.
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Ariel Bitran Posted: Apr 14, 2012 Published: Apr 18, 2012 1 comments
Before playing “La Villa Strangiato” from side 2 of the Rush LP Hemispheres, On a Higher Note’s Philip O’Hanlon advised me to go get my record cleaned by the Audio Deske Vinyl Cleaner. I told him, “I just did!”

Seconds after playing my There Comes a Time record by Neil Young in the Robyatt Audio room, Charlie King said I should get it cleaned at the Audio Deske cleaner. I told him, “I just did!”

First of all, just how filthy are my records?

Second, this same experience happened to me at least five different times during the New York hifi show. Maybe it is because my records actually are filthy, or maybe it is because that Audio Deske Vinyl Cleaner ($3895), really just is that awesome and easy to use that everyone had to sell it to me.

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Ariel Bitran Posted: Apr 16, 2012 Published: Apr 18, 2012 0 comments
Udo Besser of the revived AVM shows off the remote control for his AVM CD3.2 ($3800).
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Ariel Bitran Posted: Apr 18, 2012 2 comments
From an email’s distance, Jeff Catalano and his dealership High Water Sound seemed an enigmatic business in my mind, selling esoteric hi-fi from a downtown NYC loft. So, I was a little intimidated to visit his room, but to my surprise, Catalano is as non-elusive as you can get, beaming with joy about hi-fi and music and even wearing a Triumph shirt(!), the true sign of an everyman. He tells me he is committed to selling gear that brings the most emotion out the music.

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Ariel Bitran Posted: Apr 18, 2012 6 comments
The Soundsmith room featured a hot and clean vinyl sound as played back with the Hyperion cartridge ($7500), which uses a cactus spine cantilever, routed to their affordable MCP2 phono preamp ($699), reviewed by Michael Fremer in our October 2011 issue and March 2012 issue. Pricing on the Hyperion includes a 10 year warranty and re-tipping. Playback came out of Soundsmith’s potent Dragonfly speakers ($2,000). While I certainly heard enough Stevie Ray Vaughan at this audio show to make me wish I had crashed that helicopter myself, the blues master’s slides exhibited a natural attack and decay that brought the man and his dirty Stratocaster to that very room in the Waldorf, a more than welcome revival.
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Art Dudley Posted: Apr 18, 2012 0 comments
Andy Singer, the retailer whose name and likeness have come to epitomize the high-end audio scene in New York City, brought two complete systems to the New York Audio Show, the more ambitious of which was built around the Verity Amadis loudspeaker ($30,000/pair). This three-way design uses a separate enclosure for its reflex-loaded woofer, which is then separated from the midrange/high frequency enclosure by means of a specially damped aluminum platform. Fed by a Playback Designs MPS-5 D/A converter with CD/SACD drive ($17,000) and driven by the VAC Statement Mk.IIA preamp ($19,000 including phono section) and VAC Statement 450S stereo amp ($39,000), and with Nordost cabling throughout, the Verity Amadis sounded open, clear, and nicely textured.
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Stephen Mejias Posted: Apr 17, 2012 Published: Apr 18, 2012 0 comments
With a sly smile and a little wink, Bill Leebens suggested that I check out Amber Rubarth’s Saturday afternoon set. “She’s stunning,” he said, or something like that. When Bill makes a suggestion, it’s a good idea to follow it, so there I was at 4pm, listening as Rubarth joked that she can only write when she’s sad, and then made us all smile as she sang about happiness and love.

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