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.
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.
The lines to the registration booth stretched way down the main corridor of the 18th floor at the majestic Waldorf=Astoria. We were all very happily surprised to see so many anxious attendees arrive on a beautiful Friday afternoon in NYC. As people received their badges, they picked up complimentary copies of their favorite magazines, including the latest issue of Stereophile.
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.
For me, the biggest, most exciting, and most inspiring news of the show came in the form of VPI's latest and least expensive turntable, the Traveler ($1299). The turntable is a tribute to Sheila Weisfeld, who passed away in December of last year.
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.
I remember being impressed when I looked inside my low-impedance Miyabi 47 phono cartridge and counted approximately 14 turns of wire per channel on its coil former. Haniwa has now produced a cartridge with an even lower number of turns per channeltwo!for an internal impedance of just 0.8 ohms. Nevertheless, Haniwa has used various materials and construction techniques to maintain a quite reasonable output of 0.35mV. The Haniwa HCTR01 cartridge, which is also a notably high-compliance design, is available for $12,000. Michael Fremer reviewed it in his November 2011 “Analog Corner” column.
At the Audio Arts suite I was enchanted by the sound of my favorite 1960s-era folk trio (although I confess that that wasn't the Corries, whose debut album is seen here in the hands of Audio Arts proprietor Gideon Schwartz). "Tiny Sparrow" and other selections from the cannily titled Peter, Paul & Mary album Moving sounded colorful and clear on a system comprising the Holborne Analog 2 turntable ($5275), Holborne Analog 2 tonearm ($3475), Holborne MC1 cartridge ($1975), David Berning ZOTL preamp with phono stage ($12,300), David Berning ZH230 mono amplifiers ($18,400/pair), and the very interesting Zellaton Concert loudspeakers ($59,750/pair), the drive-units of whicheven the tweeterare all descended from the Pawel laminated metal-foil cone woofer.
The corner placement required by Audio Note speakers always raises my eyebrowsthere 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.
In the Audio Note UK room, managing director Peter Qvortrup demonstrated the company’s new Jinro Shochu power amplifier ($32,250). This is essentially a Jinro integrated amp (see Stereophile’s April 2011 issue) without the volume control and with a single pair of true balanced inputs. During my visit the combination of Jinro Shochu and Audio Note AN-E Lexus Signature loudspeakers ($19,000/pair) sounded natural, engaging, and just plain musical on selections by those two great exponents of British music, Vaughan Williams and Led Zeppelin.
Well Rounded Sound, a US company that specializes in high quality desktop loudspeakers, exhibited a number of eye-catching models, including their new Corgi ($799/pair), which is scheduled to begin production in July.
The Viola electronics on display included their four-chassis, dual-mono Solo preamplifier ($45,000) and Bravo II stereo amp ($59,000). The latter is supplied in two chassis, and provides 700Wpc channel into 4 ohms: the nominal impedance of the TAD CR1s. DAC was the highly regarded Bricasti M1.
The TAD CR1 (for Compact Reference) loudspeaker ($37,000/pair) was demonstrated with Viola amplification and a digital front end comprising the Weiss Man301 server ($9000) and Weiss Medea+ D-to-A converter ($19,000). The CR1, which has been on the market for a little over three years, has a rated sensitivity of 86dB and uses the same type of CST coincident driver as featured in the company's flagship Reference One loudspeaker. The TAD had satisfying bass extension for such a relatively small enclosure, but the system was being played way too loud for my comfort, so I can't offer a more nuanced appraisal. JA, however, was very impressed when he reviewed the CR1 last January.