Jeffrey Catalano’s High Water Sound room was so hidden, tucked away at the end of a shadowy corridor, that posters were tacked to the Atrium walls, reminding showgoers to stop by.
I had wondered how anyone could possibly find their way there, so I was taken aback when I walked into a packed house of bobbing heads and stomping feet. But I shouldn’t have been surprised: Audiophiles have a way of finding great music.
Von Schweikert's new VR-44 floorstanding speaker comes in two forms: passive ($22,000/pair), and Aktiv ($25,000/pair) with a 300W amplifier driving the 8.8" composite alloy-cone woofers below 200Hz. Both the woofers and the 6" midrange unit are loaded with labyrinths, and the tweeter is a ring-radiator type. Superbly finished with either Steinway Black Gloss or Mercedes Platinum Silver, the VR-44's produced a full, musical sound at THE Show, driven by Jolida tube amplification and with the source an open-reel recorder from United Home Audio playing a tape of Van Morrison playing "Brown-Eyed Girl."
Back at the Atrium, T.H.E. Marketplace was home to Audeze headphones, Eddie Current headphone amplifiers, Elusive Disc, Impex Records, Kim Wilson Photography, May Audio, and Music Direct. Here we see Music Direct’s Besflores Nievera, Jr., happily manning the vinyl. I get up, and nothing gets me down.
I’m not talking any music; you can get that from my ‘94 Toyota Corolla’s car radio, which is somewhat bearable at low volume. I’m talking about a system where the pace of the Fairfield Four singing something like “These Bones” in classic doo-wop fashiona Best Buy special, Walter Liederman told meor the beautiful tonality and sense of space on a recording of the Brahms Clarinet Trio made me first sit up and take notice, then sit back and wish that the music would just go on and on.
One of my favorite displays of T.H.E. Show Newport: Focal’s sleek XS Book multimedia speaker system ($399) was making big sound, playing music from a laptop (through plain-old iTunes, I think) and connected to Cambridge Audio’s smart DacMagic Plus ($599). My mind raced, counting all the friends who could use a system like this.
T.H.E. Show Newport was also home to a car show and wine tasting, held each day in the Hilton Courtyard. I must have missed the wine, but I did see this awesome little guya BMW Isetta, I thinkfrom the collection of Upscale Audio’s Kevin Deal.
The title may have veiled what this seminar was about, but there were some light moments during the two-hour Friday afternoon session that discussed "what to listen to and for in music." Pictured (left to right) are Tony Weber, 40-year industry veteran and Regional Sales Manager for Cary Audio; Tim Brisson, formerly of MIT cables; Bruce Brisson, who engineered the first purposefully built audio cable in 1981, which was marketed by Monster Cable; Paul Stubblebine, for 34 years a mastering engineer; and Cookie Marenco, a five-time Grammy nominee who is founder and producer/engineer for audiophile label Blue Coast Records.
And, for those who weren’t brave enough for Tornado Potato or Rolling Sushi, the Aura restaurant and bar proved the perfect place to see and be seen, to mingle, to catch up on business, or to simply enjoy food and drink.