T.H.E. Show Newport 2012

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Jason Victor Serinus Posted: Jun 09, 2012 0 comments
The first time I encountered the Napa Acoustic display at a show, I thought these little babies so adorable that I wanted to take all of them home so that our canine daughter, Daisy Mae Doven, would have a system of her own. But then I remembered that Daisy plays only one tune—"Get Da Bone"—and came to my senses.

Okay. I know what you're thinking. I'm an audiophile. I've never come to my senses. Touché.

Jason Victor Serinus Posted: Jun 09, 2012 2 comments
Oh, Santa. Santa Baby. Dear Santa Baby. Please make that a Reference Line Combination D ($259,700 total). I won't even ask you to sit on my lap, if only you and Rudolph bring me a pair of MBL 101E Mk.II Radialstrahler speakers, along with an MBL 1621 A CD transport, 1611 F D/A converter, 6010 D preamplifier, and 9011 power amplifier. In snow white, please, just as in the photo. This same Combo platter received my hands up and down "Best of Show" at AXPONA 2012 in Jacksonville. Here it sounded almost as good.
Jason Victor Serinus Posted: Jun 09, 2012 0 comments
Bless Len Miller of Soundstring Cable Technologies for providing me with a solid presentation of John Travolta's "Stayin' Alive." As my pace increased as I attempted to cover four floors in three days, this music became a mantra of sorts.
John Atkinson Posted: Jun 09, 2012 5 comments
"Let me turn off the Tranquility Bases and you'll hear what I am talking about," said Synergistic Research's Ted Denney.

I sighed inside. Ted had been subjecting me to the improvement on room acoustics wrought by his ART Acoustic bowls for the past few years and despite my skepticism, I kept hearing that improvement. Now he was talking about his series of Tranquility Bases. Ranging in price from $995 to $2995, these powered platforms have a ground plane and generate beneficial electromagnetic fields that are said to condition the signals passing through the components sitting on them and drain away the bad fields to ground. Yeah, right!

John Atkinson Posted: Jun 09, 2012 2 comments
A surprise was in wait for me as I sat in front of Magico's new S5 speaker ($28,600/pair) in The Audio Salon room at the Atrium Hotel. With the speakers driven by Constellation's Centaur 250Wpc amplifier—the amp in the photo is a dummy; the real one was behind me—with MIT cables throughout, Constellation's Peter Madnick selected a file on his iPad and told me I'd recognize the music. Indeed I did: it was Cantus performing Curtis Mayfield's "It's Alright," which I had recorded live in concert at Minneapolis's Southern Theater in May 2008. It had been released on a limited edition CD but I had completely forgotten I had given Peter a file of the final mixdown. Wow, the band was hanging there in space between and behind the speakers. And when the audience started clapping along with the music, they sounded above and to the sides of the speakers, as I had intended.
John Atkinson Posted: Jun 09, 2012 0 comments
Channel D's affable Rob Robinson was playing 24/192k LP rips made with Pure Vinyl with the Joseph Pulsar speakers ($7000/pair), which have just got a rave review in the June issue of Stereophile. "Listen to this," said Rob, lowering Pure Vinyl's virtual tonearm on to the image of an LP on the screen, and I heard some familiar-sounding music: it was a rip of Stereophile's 1990 Intermezzo album, which Rob had picked up at a European show.
John Atkinson Posted: Jun 09, 2012 0 comments
Like the MartinLogan speakers in the next story, the Belgian Venture Ultimate speakers ($59,500/pair), distributed in the US by Precision Audio & Video, were set-up in a room that was really too big for them. Even at a fairly close listening distance, the room's reverberant field was dominating what I was hearing. Even so, on "Good Morning Little Schoolgirl" from Muddy Waters' Folksinger, this three-way, five-driver tower had a natural tonality, precise stereo imaging, and a full-range sound. The 48.5"-tall, 152lb Ultimate has a specified frequency range of 26Hz–40kHz, a nominal impedance of 6 ohms, and a sensitivity of 90dB/W/m.
John Atkinson Posted: Jun 09, 2012 1 comments
It is always a pleasure visiting the Joseph Audio room at Shows, not the least because Jeff Joseph knows how to set up a system to work with the room acoustics, not against them. In Newport beach Beach, as at some other shows, he had set-up the Pulsar stand-mounts ($7000/pair) along the room's diagonal. Source was Pure Music running on a MacBook Pro, feeding USB data to the Bel Canto. Powered by Bel Canto's new C7R integrated amp, which includes a phono preamp, D/A section, headphone output, and an FM tuner—wait a moment, isn't that we used to call a "receiver?"—and hooked up with Cardas cables, the Pulsar's produced an almost full-range sound. The double bass on the Bad Plus's arrangement of Nirvana's "Smells Like Teen Spirit" had body and good definition,a difficult trick to pull off for a stand-mounted two-way.
Jason Victor Serinus Posted: Jun 09, 2012 1 comments
Zu Audio's room was like no other. While the "normal" set-up has components facing attendees and carefully stacked on equipment racks, Zu more or less duplicated the DJ experience. Spinning vinyl as if in a cage, and very happy to be there, I might add, sat Zu owner Sean Casey's delightfully high-spirited son, Ian.
Jason Victor Serinus Posted: Jun 09, 2012 0 comments
Tucked in back of the FritzSpeakers room was a display from eNetFusion's Fusion Plinths. As explained by company owner Sunil, the company's made-to-order plinths are precision crafted to your turntable using exotic woods.
Jason Victor Serinus Posted: Jun 09, 2012 0 comments
You couldn't miss the signage for PrimaLuna and Nola; it was as big as the excellent signage for T.H.E. Show itself. You also couldn't miss the sound: lovely, warm, and extremely inviting. Although the system was playing a bit too loud for the room, the system handled bass extremely well, and made timbres on a (yes) Diana Krall recording pretty natural. Doing the honors were the Nola Ko loudspeaker ($9800/pair) and three components from PrimaLuna: Premium CD player ($3995), DiaLogue 3 linestage preamplifier ($2695), and DiaLogue 7 monoblock amplifiers ($5495/pair).
Jason Victor Serinus Posted: Jun 09, 2012 0 comments
Audioengine, which made a deservedly major mark a few years back with its perfect-for-desktop-computers, self-powered loudspeakers, has just issued the W3 as a replacement for the W1 ($149, I believe). A plug-and-play "premium wireless audio adapter" designed to move computer audio around your home or office, it can transmit 16-bit signals to up to three receivers ($89 for a receiver kit) via a closed 802.11 network. (Those desiring to send 24-bit signals can opt for the D2.) Also fairly new are the Audioengine 5+ powered loudspeakers ($399 and up).
Jason Victor Serinus Posted: Jun 09, 2012 1 comments
This was a very special show. It was a joy to be there.
Jason Victor Serinus Posted: Jun 09, 2012 2 comments
One of the three rooms at T.H.E. Show created by Scott Walker Audio of Anaheim excelled in solid, grounded sound with a firm bottom and natural tonalities. Ah, don't we all long for a firm bottom and natural toning. But I digress. In this room, YG Acoustics paired its excellent Kipod II Signature loudspeaker ($49,000/pair) with Sim Audio's Moon Evolution 700i 175Wpc integrated amplifier ($13,000) and 650D CD player ($9000)—both products that have been highly praised in Stereophile's pages—and Synergistic Research's Galileo cables, PowerCell 10 SE (probably Mk.III), and full complement of Acoustic ART devices. The latter were doing an excellent job, because the two Kipod II's powered woofers were in firm control in a room that rendered many other speakers' bass boom city. "Beautiful triangle. . .wonderful midrange. . .good three-dimensionality" I wrote in my notes. I wasn't handed a price sheet for the Synergistic Research products, but the company makes its entire price list available online here.
Jason Victor Serinus Posted: Jun 09, 2012 0 comments
Episode Audio's Ira Pazandeh had one of the few home theater displays at T.H.E. Show. Arrayed before and around me were Episode Audio loudspeakers: Model EP-V front for two-channel and home theater front ($12,500/pair), Model EP-C for center channel ($6500), BASSY subwoofer ($2300), and, in the rear, two KOBRA surrounds ($4800/pair). Giving them juice were an Onkyo TX-NR 809 receiver ($995), Sony BDP-S580 CD/Blu-ray player ($149.99), AudioQuest speaker wire (approx. $50), and Monster interconnects. Playing Marta Gomez's "Maria Mulatta," I was struck with the nice depiction of air and space around the flute, as well as overwhelming bass (a problem shared by more set-ups in the Hilton sleeping rooms than I wish to count). I'd like to hear the system again, next time with adequate room treatment.

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