John Atkinson reported on Don Keele’s unusual constant-directivity CBT36 loudspeaker from last year’s Rocky Mountain Audiofest. At T.H.E. Show Newport, Keele and Marshall Kay, president of Audio Artistry, purposefully created an “economy system” (an iPad running Media Monkey, Benchmark DAC1, Crown preamp, ATI amplifier, Behringer DSP processor) to show how well the speaker could perform under sub-optimal conditions.
John Atkinson reported on B.M.C.’s new Arcadia loudspeaker ($36,300/pair) from January’s CES. But B.M.C.’s Carlos Candeias has already upgraded his design with SpeakON connectors between the outboard crossovers and the speaker cabinets, improved internal wiring, and a revised magnet construction in the midrange drivers. In addition, the speaker’s spikes now screw directly into the speaker’s base for better grounding. The changes come at no additional cost. “We improved the model, but that doesn’t always mean you have to raise the price,” said Candeias.
Audio Note’s Dave Cope was unusually glum: The E/SPe HE loudspeakers ($9650/pair; seen in a lovely Russian birch plywood) are designed to be positioned in the corners of a room, but doing so here, in the small Atrium suite, meant that they’d be tucked beneath a strange overhang that seemed to rob the speakers of their charm. The effect, however, was largely music-dependent and I nevertheless heard glimpses of Audio Note’s characteristic drama, tone color, and texture, albeit on a smaller scale. I have no reason to believe that this impressive system wouldn’t sound wonderful under better conditions.
Jason Smith of Babyjdrums Classic Vinyl and Audio had tons of classical LPs for sale, almost all in pristine condition (many were even sealed), and at bargain basement prices. Smith also sells hi-fi out of his home; his brands include PTE, Musical Surroundings, Denon, Soundsmith, and Synergistic Research. And he’s a drummer, on tour this summer with the Albert Lee Band.
I was pleased to meet Home Theater’s Kim Wilson. If Kim’s not reviewing A/V receivers and preamp/processors, she might be taking lovely photographs of musical instruments, landscapes, city scenes, architecture, and more. During T.H.E. Show Newport, Kim had a small booth near the Atrium poolnot a bad way to spend a sunny weekend. You can see more of her work here.
First of all, I loved the way On A Higher Note’s Philip O’Hanlon coordinated his outfit with both his demo room and the Vivid B1 loudspeakersthe dude can rock a Hawaiian shirt, khaki shorts, and slippers like nobody’s business. Second, it was awesome to hear O’Hanlon say, “Up next is a song by Destiny’s Child, with Beyonce, called ‘Bills, Bills, Bills.’
Carlsbad dealer Audio Revelation put together a beautiful little system: Vivid Audio V1.5 loudspeakers ($7650), Luxman SQ-38u integrated amp ($5990), Wavelength Cosecant DAC ($3500), and Well Tempered Versalex turntable ($4400) with a Dynavector XX2 phono cartridge ($1950)all you need to make music.
My very favorite gear of T.H.E. Show Newport was presented by Ross Blomgren of RJB Electronic Services. Blomgren specializes in the repair and restoration of antique jukeboxes, radios, and hi-fi, and the products he had on display were, in my opinion, some of the most beautiful to be found at the show.
Time and time again, I’ve had the good fortune of running into VTL’s Luke Manley just as I arrive at a show. It’s always a pleasure to chat with Luke and just as fun to listen to music with him. While his room often represents my very first chance to listen at any show, the sound he and his partners create is one that stays with me for the duration. That was the case again here at T.H.E. Show Newport Beach.
Stereophile's Stephen Mejias (left) is given the hard sell by the youngest audiophile at the Show, Shane Censullo. Shane was tireless throughout the weekend, handing out flyers on behalf of his father's company, Avatar Acoustics.