T.H.E. Show Newport 2012

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Jason Victor Serinus Posted: Jun 09, 2012 1 comments
The Thiel CS 3.7 loudspeakers ($12,900/pair) were making bright and incisive sound with PrimaLuna's ProLogue Premium monoblock amplifiers ($4395/pair), DiaLogue 3 preamplifier ($2700), and ProLogue CD player ($3000); PS Audio Perfect Wave II DAC with Bridge/NAS server ($4795) and P10 Power Regenerator ($4495); and Analysis Plus Oval speaker cable ($500/pair).
Jason Victor Serinus Posted: Jun 09, 2012 0 comments
Scaena's imposing systems never fail to provide one of the highlights of the Show experience. Once the flashing light show on the VAC tube equipment was turned off, I was able to settle in and enjoy sensational sound through the Scaena Spiritus 3.6 System with Trifecta subwoofers ($130,000), VAC Statement 450 monoblock amplifiers ($78,000, presumably for the pair), VAC Signature MK2a preamp with phono option ($19,500), Audience Adept aR-12-TSS power conditioner ($10,000) and, for analog, the Kronos counter-rotating dual platter turntable ($28,000) with Graham Phantom Supreme 12" arm ($6000), Clearaudio Goldfinger Statement cartridge ($15,000), and Audio Research Ref phono 2 ($11,995).
Jason Victor Serinus Posted: Jun 09, 2012 1 comments
Okay, I'm running out of clever titles, but NAD had no problem producing beautifully controlled, welcomingly sweet sound from its all-new Masters Digital Suite. The M50 Digital Music Player ($2500) and M52 Digital Music Vault ($2000), a combo that can stream, store and manage your digital music collection, was performing wonderfully with the M2 Direct Digital 250W digital-input amplifier ($6000 and a John Atkinson favorite), Tannoy Glenaire 10 loudspeakers ($7500/pair), and Synergistic Acoustic ART resonance control system.
John Atkinson Posted: Jun 09, 2012 2 comments
Sharing a Hilton ballroom with Legacy and AVM, the Austrian Ayon tube amplification was being demmed with Lumenwhite Artisan speakers ($40k/pair). Source was the new Ayon Music Server and two-box preamp. Listening to Pink Floyd's "Another Brick in the Wall," I thought the sound was better than it had any right to be given the suboptimal acoustics. Then I spotted some of the Synergistic ART Acoustic bowls on the walls—my left brain knows these silly little bowls can have no audible effect on room acoustics in the audio range; my right brain was busy telling my feet to tap!
John Atkinson Posted: Jun 09, 2012 0 comments
In their 10th floor suite, YG Acoustics was driving their Anat II Studio Signature speakers with Luxman B-1000 solid-state monoblock amps via Kubala-Sosna Elation cables. Total cost of the system was an eye-watering $275,000, but I don't think I have heard Talking Heads' live "Psychokiller," from Stop Making Sense, sound as viscerally real, yet without strain nor grain. (Trying to reproduce this track at similar levels with an all-Mission system a quarter century ago, I managed to melt the amplifiers' output stages.)
Jason Victor Serinus Posted: Jun 09, 2012 1 comments
At the Irvine Hilton, T.H.E. Show Newport Beach offered hospitality suites from Sunny's Components, Positive Feedback Online, and the Los Angeles & Orange County Audio Society. Since the President of the latter is Bob Levi, the co-sponsor of T.H.E. Show, who not only thinks big and acts big, but also consistently delivers on his promises, the massive LA&OCAS commandeered two adjacent rooms on the fifth floor for its suite where Showgoers could chill out in a very effective manner.
Jason Victor Serinus Posted: Jun 09, 2012 0 comments
As someone who reviews speakers infrequently, and usually listens to floorstanders, I find the world of mini-monitors and bookshelf speakers confusing. There are so many different price points for the latter, with a pair of monitors listing for under $300 somehow meriting the same adjectives (at least from some reviewers) as those that cost 10, 20, and 30 times more. With FritzSpeakers, however, I have no question about quality.
Jason Victor Serinus Posted: Jun 09, 2012 1 comments
Okay. I know what you're wondering. So do Jason and Lisa Stoddard, whose curiously named headphone amplifier and headphone DAC company celebrates its second anniversary on June 17. In fact, your curiosity is one of the reasons why Lisa is smiling so.
MSB
John Atkinson Posted: Jun 09, 2012 1 comments
Last summer I gave a presentation at Goodwins High End in Waltham, MA where I played some of the hi-rez master recordings through an MSB D/A converter. I was so impressed by what I heard that I arranged a review of the DAC and MSB's matching transport, both priced at $4000, by Jon Iverson, scheduled for publication in the October 2012 issue of Stereophile. MSB were demming the new versions of their digital gear—the Diamond DAC with the FemtoSecond Galaxy Clock, the Data CD transport, and the new S200 class-A 200Wpc stereo amplifier—in the Atrium Hotel, using YG's Anat III Studio speakers. Whether it was CD—Harry Connick Jr. and Branford Marsalis duetting on "A Nightingale Sang in Berkely Square"—or 24/192k WAV files from Chesky, played back from a data DVD-R, there was something very right about the sound in this room—and not a magic bowl or adverse energy-draining base to be found!
Jason Victor Serinus Posted: Jun 09, 2012 0 comments
Although Roger Sanders was not in the room when I finally got there on the third day, his "handcrafted in Colorado" electrostats were singing as if he were. In addition to the superb transparency that one expects from a good electrostat, the bass was not just convincing, but simply amazing. The sound was a bit sharp in the small room, and at one point, in an unfortunate performance of Puccini's "O mio babbino caro," distorted on top. Since I've not had either experience in previous auditions of Sanders electrostats, I have a hunch the distortion probably due to the mikes used to record this unsuited-for-the-role-of-Lauretta soprano. (I have a number of recordings from EMI that grow harsh and noisy on vocals due to the choice of microphones).
Jason Victor Serinus Posted: Jun 09, 2012 0 comments
Dynamic Sound Systems of Carlsbad, CA demmed bi-amped Plinius 310Wpc stereo amplifiers ($10,300 each), Plinius stereo preamplifier ($11,350 line, $12,500 phono), and Plinius Tiki DLNA compatible Digital Audio Renderer ($4775) in a system that also included the PMC IB2 three-way loudspeaker ($18,490/pair), and Analysis Plus Oval 9 speaker cables as well as Solo Crystal interconnects and Power Oval 2 power cables.

On tracks from Nils Lofgren and Vivaldi, I found the sound solid and dynamic, but also hard, and opaque, perhaps due to the sub-optimal room acoustics. Yes, traps had been used in the corners of this room, but an exhibitor at a Show is always at the mercy of whichever room they have been allocated.

Jason Victor Serinus Posted: Jun 09, 2012 0 comments
It may seem strange to introduce a huge show report—actually my final blog, since, in time-honored biblical fashion, the last shall always be first in the blogisphere —with a photo of a Bentley Mulsanne (over $400,000). But inside this gorgeously outfitted automobile, a machine that even closes its doors for you should you be too occupied trading stocks via iPhone to pull the handle, is a custom-enhanced sound system by Reus Systems of Orange. (It was part of the exotic car exhibition that was part of T.H.E. Show.)
Jason Victor Serinus Posted: Jun 09, 2012 1 comments
In the more extensive of its two set-ups, Emotiva produced lovely, welcomingly smooth sound. Although bass control was elusive, as it was for many systems in these small "sleeping rooms" at the Hilton, the system's impressive clarity on top and nice tonality confirmed its reputation as a bargain bonanza. Playing were the XRT 6.2 tower loudspeakers ($699/pair), XPA-1 monoblock amplifiers ($999/each), XSP-1 stereo preamplifier ($899), ERC-2 CD player ($449), and XDA-2 Reference DAC ($399). Watch for Bob Reina's rave review of Emotiva's smaller XRT-5.2 towers in the August issue of Stereophile.
Jason Victor Serinus Posted: Jun 09, 2012 2 comments
Eric Hudgins' Tailored Technologies of Santa Clara, CA somehow packed a lot of equipment and sound into a small space. Audreal's PA-80 class-A amplifier ($5995), XA-3200 preamplifier ($1899), and LP-2 phono stage ($1295) were brightening up the room with the SoTM DAC 200HD ($2200) and server ($2200) and the new version of Volent VL-3 Mk.II loudspeakers ($11,000). The turntable was the Clearaudio Ovation ($5500) with MC cartridge ($800).
John Atkinson Posted: Jun 09, 2012 1 comments
I still remember the chills that ran down my spine when I saw the band Rufus, with a young, slim Chaka Khan, performing "Tell Me Something Good" at a small English club more years ago than I care to recall. So when I went into the smaller MBL room at the Irvine Hilton and Jeremy Bryan started playing a live version of the same song, I got a similar thrill.

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