NY Audio & AV 2012

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John Atkinson Posted: Apr 17, 2012 0 comments
Friday night at the NY Audio & AV Show, Stereophile sponsored a concert featuring Attention Screen, the jazz quartet led by reviewer Bob Reina (right). In the four improvisations lasting almost an hour, covering musical genres that ranged from the blues through space music to salsa, Bob had a blast playing a rather nice Steinway piano. Drummer Mark Flynn provided some of the most intelligent percussion I have heard, playing in lock step with bassist Chris Jones, yet taking risks that propelled the music forward, outward, and upward. The Steinway was provided by Peter Becker, of NYC dealer Klavierhaus. It was brought in specifically for the show and sponsored by the ever-generous Robin Wyatt of Robyatt Audio, who also sponsored the Elio Villafranca concert.
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Stephen Mejias Posted: Apr 14, 2012 Published: Apr 17, 2012 0 comments
Also on hand in the Ultra Systems/Cable Company room was the HiFiMan EF6 ($1599), seen here atop an Oppo BDP-83 modified by Exemplar Audio ($2500). We first saw the EF6 at CES. The 5W, solid-state, class-A design is HiFiMan's answer to the most difficult-to-drive headphones. The Exemplar Audio-modded Oppo has a new linear power supply, upgraded op-amps, and high-quality polypropylene capacitors.
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Ariel Bitran Posted: Apr 16, 2012 Published: Apr 17, 2012 3 comments
I will state up-front that the Audio Note AN-E Lexus loudspeakers ($19,000/pair) and accompanying Audio Note gear was not my favorite system at the show. I did not have a favorite, as I particularly enjoyed the sound of many systems including the Sony room, the Innovative Audio room, and the High Water Sound room. Yet, I easily spent the most time at Audio Note. Why?

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John Atkinson Posted: Apr 17, 2012 0 comments
Sony’s Motoyuki (Yuki) Sugiura adjusts the volume on the Pass Labs preamp. Although the room was a bit too big for the SS-AR2s, the top-octave balance of the 1" soft-dome tweeter being optimized for a smaller acoustic space, these $20,000/pair speakers, derived from the SS-AR1 that so impressed Kalman Rubinson last July, produced one of the best sounds I heard at the 2012 NY Show. Despite the mellow balance, there was a wealth of recorded detail to be heard, with a huge, stable soundstage. Commendably for a speaker with a modest footprint, the sound didn't appreciably harden at high levels. I will be reviewing the SS-AR2 in the November issue of Stereophile.
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Ariel Bitran Posted: Apr 17, 2012 0 comments
The Music First Audio room was getting a lot of buzz around the show for its sound: delicate and detailed, a sound which emphasized Chet Atkins’ nimble shredding on “Snowbird” perfectly. Like his fast-fingered attacks, the playback from a Revox reel-to-reel A77 fed to the passive Music First Baby Reference Preamp ($7900) into Rogers LS35A speakers powered by a Bel Canto S300 was nuanced and swift. Sam Tellig reviews a similar Music First Audio Classic Magnetic Preamplifier ($4185) in our upcoming June issue. Also appealing in this room were gorgeous and compact stands from Hi-Fi Racks.
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Ariel Bitran Posted: Apr 17, 2012 1 comments
The mad rush to check out the first available rooms at zero hour at a hi-fi show can be a harrowing experience. Even though everyone has a map of the exhibits within their program guide, sometimes just meandering and finding the room that calls out to you is the best way to choose. Well the bowl of Reese’s Cups and mini-packets of Whoppers outside the Veloce room sure did speak to me, as did the sound. Paired with YG Kipod 2 Signature speakers and powered by two class-D monoblocks from Veloce, the V-6s ($15,000/pair), sound was clear with a deep black backdrop, probably because these amps run on batteries, which managing director Mark Conti said was “more complicated than simply putting a battery in a box.” This system accurately simulated the live attack of a hi-hat and the sharp snap of a rim-shot on the edge of snare. Conti then happily played This Is Right Now, an EP by my band Heroes of the Open End cut at a home studio in Brooklyn. The system revealed many of the flaws in this recording, including poor bass equalization, unrealistic drum sound, and balance issues between the guitars. Doh! Next time we’re going to a real studio!
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Art Dudley Posted: Apr 16, 2012 0 comments
Driving the distinctive Scaena "iso-linear array" loudspeakers in the Audio Doctor suite was a pair of Conrad-Johnson's limited-edition ART amplifiers ($37,000/pair): one of 125 pairs in existence. These ARTs used KT-120 output tubes (the amps are rated at 275Wpc when run with 6550 pentodes) and were operated without their strikingly pretty tube cages.
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John Atkinson Posted: Apr 16, 2012 0 comments
The YG Anat III Professional Signature speakers ($119,000/pair) in the GTT room had an attractive titanium finish. I thought a 45rpm test pressing of the Doors' "Riders on the Storm" sounding astonishing, especially John Densmore's drums, which, although recorded in mono in the right channel, had a combination of weight, realistic highs, and authority that I hadn't heard before from this over-familiar track.
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John Atkinson Posted: Apr 16, 2012 3 comments
The corner placement required by Audio Note speakers always raises my eyebrows—there was even a mirror next to one of the speakers!—but the sound of Ivan Moravec performing Brahms late piano works, the Op.118 Intermezzi, on a secondhand Turnabout LP, was extraordinarily engaging on the Audio Note AN-E Lexus Signature loudspeakers. This was the last room I visited Saturday night and I didn’t feel the need to visit any more rooms for more music.
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Art Dudley Posted: Apr 16, 2012 0 comments
The combination of Wilson Audio loudspeakers, VTL amplifiers, and Peter McGrath's digital recordings—and setup skills—has provided some of the finest music I've heard at literally every show I've attended in the past several years, and this show was no exception. The Wilson Sasha W/Ps ($27,900/pair) were installed along the long wall of one of Innovative's two rooms at the Waldorf=Astoria, and were driven by the VTL MB450 Series III amplifiers ($18,000/pair) and VTL 7.5 Series III preamp ($20,000), all hooked up with Transparent cables. The sound was colorful, dynamic, and tactile—string bounce was especially fine—on all selections played, especially a high-resolution excerpt from Carmen that McGrath recorded in Miami not long ago, converted to analog with a dCS Puccini DAC ($18,000).
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Art Dudley Posted: Apr 16, 2012 0 comments
German amplifier specialists AVM have been in business since 1986, but until now have served only the European market. The company's new owner, Udo Besser, who was with Burmester for many years, has decided to broaden their target and is now exporting their high-end electronics line to the US. Of the products on display at the New York Audio and AV show, I was especially intrigued by the AVM C8: an all-in one package that combines a 150Wpc stereo integrated amp with a phono stage, FM tuner, USB and SPDIF D/A converter, and a (hermetically sealed!) CD drive. The styling is elegant and spare, and the projected price is $4200.
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Art Dudley Posted: Apr 16, 2012 1 comments
A Legacy Audio Whisper XD loudspeaker ($20,500–$22,500/pair, depending on finish) stands next to a life-size picture of a Legacy Audio Whisper XD loudspeaker. One of these has eight drivers, dual 500-watt ICE subwoofer amplifiers, and a 24-bit room-correction processor. The other does not.
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Stephen Mejias Posted: Apr 14, 2012 Published: Apr 16, 2012 0 comments
Art's already mentioned the glorious sound of the Robyatt Audio room, so with this picture I tried to capture a bit of the system's overall look and feel. This was, to my eyes, the sexiest system of the show. The only thing missing was the pinup girl. The sound was just as easy on the ears: When "Sing, Sing, Sing" came to the end, everyone in the room clapped and cheered.
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Art Dudley Posted: Apr 16, 2012 1 comments
There were no new Abbingdon Music Research products at this show, but distributor Darren Censullo was in attendance at the Audio Doctor suite, where he spoke with excitement about a forthcoming AMR product called the iDac: a USB-friendly converter scheduled to sell for just $350.
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John Atkinson Posted: Apr 16, 2012 0 comments
While Art Dudley was photographing the new VPI Classic 4 turntable, Stereophile illustrator Jeff Wong (right) cornered Michael Fremer and asked him to autograph Michael's mid-1970s stand-up comedy album, I Can Take a Joke.

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