NY Audio & AV 2012

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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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John Atkinson Posted: Apr 18, 2012 0 comments
I had visited the Legacy room at the NY Show hoping to hear the Whisper XD, which had been one of my best sounds at the 2010 Axpona Show. Though I have auditioned this speaker at other shows since then, they had never been set up in rooms that did them justice. However, when I visited the Legacy room, the relatively affordable Focus SE speakers ($8750–$9250/pair, depending on finish), set up at the other end of the room from the Whispers, were playing. Driven by Ayon tube amplification, this speaker, which combines a 1" Kapton ribbon tweeter with a 3" Kapton-ribbon midrange unit, two Rohacell-reinforced graphite-cone woofers, and two 12" aluminum-cone subwoofers sounded pleasant enough, but the listening conditions were not sufficiently ideal for me to make a more confident judgment of the speaker's quality.
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John Atkinson Posted: Apr 18, 2012 0 comments
"I Want to Take You Higher—the Present and Future of Digital Music Delivery and Playback" was the title of a workshop chaired by Michael Lavorgna (right), editor of Stereophile's sister site AudioStream.com. Michael's panel included (from left to right), Andreas Koch (Playback Designs), Larry Ho (Light Harmonic), Rob Robinson (Channel D/Pure Vinyl/Pure Music), and David Chesky (HDTracks). The hour-long session dispelled much of the technofear surrounding the subject of how to turn a PC or Mac into a true high-end music source.
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John Atkinson Posted: Apr 18, 2012 0 comments
The larger of the two Audio Doctor rooms at the Waldorf=Astoria featured KEF's Blade speaker driven by Chord monoblocks and a Chord Red Reference digital player. This was my first chance to hear the English manufacturer's $30,000/pair speaker, which has been featured at dealer events the past few months. I was not disappointed: the sound of the Reference Recordings Scheherazade had focus and stability, coupled with an even full-range balance. (Could the array of Shakti Hallograph "candelabra" be responsible for what I heard? Nah!)
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Ariel Bitran Posted: Apr 17, 2012 Published: Apr 18, 2012 0 comments
The passive Music First Baby Reference Preamp ($7900)
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John Atkinson Posted: Apr 18, 2012 0 comments
Manhattan retailer Innovative Audio had two rooms at the Show, one active, featuring Wilson Sasha speakers driven by VTL amplification and a dCS digital front-end, the other passive, featuring displays of equipment from companies handled by Innovative, like Dynaudio, Meridian, and, as can be seen in the photo, Dan D'Agostino. Dan, resting his elbow on a Wilson Duette speaker, which will be reviewed in our June issue, took showgoers through the design of his jewel-like Momentum monoblock power amplifier ($50,000/pair), as well as the new stereo amplifier derived from it and the Dan D'Agostino preamplifier, to be launched at next month's Munich Show. One of the joys of high-end audio shows is the accessibility audiophiles can enjoy to superstar engineers like Dan.
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John Atkinson Posted: Apr 16, 2012 Published: Apr 18, 2012 0 comments
Audio Shows give industry professionals the chance to check out products they have read about in magazines. Here, Wilson's Peter McGrath (right) talks to Bricasti's Brian Zolner (The "Bri" in Bricasti) about the latter's M1 D/A processor that so impressed me in the February issue. Feeding data to the M1 was Rega's super- sexy Apollo CD player, which Sam Tellig will be reviewing in the July issue of Stereophile.
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Ariel Bitran Posted: Apr 16, 2012 Published: Apr 18, 2012 0 comments
I got to know Steve, head of VAS Audio over in New Jersey, after he picked up the Cayin SP-10a that Bob Reina reviewed in our April 2012 issue from the Stereophile Manhattan office. Steve invited me to the back of the VPI/VAS Audio Room to share a cocktail and a cookie where we discussed the hi-fi show business and our audiophile neighbors in Brooklyn and New Jersey. Steve's original home, in Bay Ridge, Brooklyn, places him in close proximity to some Stereophile staff, past and present, and his co-exhibitor VPI, led by the Weisfeld family, lives next door to him in Jersey. Hi-fi, like cookies, is more fun when shared with neighbors.
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Art Dudley Posted: Apr 18, 2012 3 comments
High Water Sound, the New York City-based retailer and distributor, created one of my favorite demonstrations at the show, as much for proprietor Jeffrey Catalano's choice of music—Gabor Szabo's instrumental version of Donovan's "Three King Fishers" was playing when I came in—as for the exotic and unassailably musical system on display: TW Acustic Raven Black Night turntable ($40,000) and 10.5 tonearm ($5500), Tron Seven GT line-level preamp and phono preamp ($18,000 each), Tron Telstar 211 SET amplifier ($40,000), and the striking Affascinate loudspeaker ($62,000) from Cessaro Horn Acoustics, the latter using an 11" woofer in a back-loaded horn, a proprietary compression driver for the spherical midrange horn, and a modified horn-loaded TAD beryllium tweeter. The sound was tactile, impactful, and thoroughly involving on every recording I heard.
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Ariel Bitran Posted: Apr 16, 2012 Published: Apr 18, 2012 3 comments
The relaxed and crystal-clear sound of the Legacy Whisper XDs tempted my entire CD collection, but I knew what I really wanted to hear: Phish’s Lawn Boy. Both Page McConnel’s and Trey Anastasio’s nuanced phrasing and John Fishman’s tasteful drumming would shimmer in the clean layout projected by these speakers. Legacy’s Bill Duddleston put on my CD. An audiophile in front of me turns around...
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John Atkinson Posted: Apr 18, 2012 3 comments
As well as providing the sound for the seminar room, which was where a recorded music concert, titled "Euphoria at the Waldorf," was presented Friday and Saturday evenings, The Tweak Studio's exhibit room also featured components from the premium German manufacturer Burmester: a pair of 380 Mk.2 speakers driven by a 911 power amplifier and an 088 preamp. Source was a Walker turntable and arm fitted with a Soundsmith Sussuro Hyperion cartridge. There was much to admire in this system's reproduction of Louis Armstrong singing "St. James Infirmary," but as was the case with so many of the rooms at the Waldorf, the presentation was marred by over-ripe room acoustics.
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John Atkinson Posted: Apr 18, 2012 0 comments
The "Ask the Editors" sessions at the NY Audio & AV Show attracted enthusiastic, informed, and engaged audiences.

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