Robert Baird mentioned the seminar program presented at the New York Audio Show by The Sound Organisation. I applaud the Chester Group for featuring educational sessions like these at the Show. At the session I attended, renowned recording engineer Jim Anderson (above), past president of the Audio Engineering Society and Chair of the Clive Davis Department of Recorded Music at New York University's Tisch School for the Arts, compared the original and revised versions of Patricia Barber's Cafe Blue, as well as playing tracks from her new album Smash, which he mixed at Skywalker Sound. The system featured a pair of active MB2S-A monitors from English company PMC, with their distinctive dome midrange units, fed audio from a PrismSound Orpheus DAC and a MacBook Pro.
I am a big fan of the hi-rez audio files made available by Lessloss, so one of the first rooms I visited at the NY Audio Show was theirs. The system featured a pair of Kaiser Kawero Vivace floorstanding speakers from Germany, which combine a custom-made Mundorf AMT tweeter with ScanSpeak Illuminator midrange unit and rear-facing woofers. With the source Lessloss's new Laminar Streamer, which plays audio files from SD cards, and Pass Labs amplifiers, the sound in this room was delicate and full-bodied, though perhaps too sweet overall.
Belgian manufacturer Venture, whose products are distributed in the US by Precision Audio & Video, was demming its new Vici 2.1 loudspeaker ($36,000/pair), driven by Venture V200A+ MOSGET monoblocks ($120,000/pair), a Venture VP100L preamp ($35,100), and reinforced below 60Hz by a pair of Venture AW500 active woofers ($12,000 each), which each use two 10" drivers. Front-end was the XX High End music player running on a Windows laptop feeding a Weiss Medea FireWire DAC ($21,799). Cables were all Grand Reference Diamond and Diamond Signature.
The first room I visited at the NY Audio Show was one of the best-sounding. The third of three rooms displaying brands sold by Manhattan retailer Sound by Singerclick here and here for our reports on the other twoit featured the world premier of Danish Manufacturer Raidho's D2 loudspeaker ($43,500/pair in black, $48,000/pair in gold walnut). The D2 combines the ribbon tweeter used in Raidho's well-regarded D1 minimonitor with two 4.5" woofers that use a diamond-coated cones.
My friend Jason Victor Serinus asked, reasonably, how I and other Stereophile reporters might rank this most recent outing by the Chester Group against other shows. I said I thought that NYAS 2013 was very well organized and, when all was said and done, gratifyingly well attended. People did their jobs and luck mostly held: Con Ed workers created noise and logistical mayhem as they peeled away the pavement, yet hundreds of audiophiles flocked to the show nonetheless. The men were tearing up the street.
Art Dudley browses the LP racks at the Quality Record Pressings booth. Photo: Ariel Bitran.
One of the fun sidelights of any audio show is visiting the rooms or booths of the high-end vinyl dealers who attend and, in that regard, the New York Audio Show 2013 was no exception. I spent much of the first day either listening to records via the Classic Album Sundays room with Colleen Murphy, talking about new releases with David Chesky (who I will get to in a moment), or thumbing through juicy looking new and reissue vinyl and DVDs at the booths of Acoustic Sounds, AIX Records, and SoundStageDirect.com.
Upon visiting the room of Colleen Cardas Imports, I was impressed by yet another small loudspeaker: the Signature version of the model 1920 mini-monitor ($3450/pair) from British firm MAD (for My Audio Design). The 1920 is described as designer Timothy Jung's take on the classic BBC LS-3/5a theme, and while it didn't sound precisely like that hallowed box, it was pleasing in much the same way when driven by the 65 WpcClass-A Monoblock Reference power amps ($15,500/pair) and Control Preamplifier ($9500) from Pure Audio, a company founded by the previous principals of Plinius. Source components were the Platinum Data CD IV disc transport ($3995) and The Analog D/A converter ($6995) from MSB Technology, while cabling and power-distribution products were by Furutech.
One of the most talked-about exhibitions at NYAS 2013and, indeed, one that impressed me more than mostwas by a newish company called Symbol Audio, specializing in heirloom-quality furnishings that are aimed, it must be said, at non-audiophiles possessed of both good jobs and good taste. The centerpiece of Symbol's room was their Modern Record Console, which combines a high-quality record player from Project, a built-in Apple MacMini with a Meridian Explorer D/A converter, a tubed (push-pull EL84s) integrated amplifier by ENG Vista (with source selections for phono, D/A, and WiFi), and a pair of Omega full-range drivers, supplemented with a self-powered, pedestal-mounted subwoofer. All of this is built into drop-dead-gorgeous cabinetry, bench-built in New Jersey from solid black walnut. Price: $26,500, woodchuck not included.
More evidence that the Bricasti Model 1 D/A converter ($8495), while certainly not cheap, represents quite good value for the money was found in one of the rooms sponsored by New York retailer Sound by Singer. During a conversation about a new power-supply upgrade for the Model 1, I asked Bricasti's Brian Zolner if the new board is retrofittable to older Bricasti units, and he assured me that it isfor just $150. [John Marks will discuss the new power supply in a "Follow-Up" to appear in our July issue.Ed.]
Red Wine Audio of Holden, MA, was the remaining link in the Sound by Singer chain: The aforementioned Bricasti D/A converter was, by means of its own volume control, used to directly drive a pair of Red Wine Liliana monoblock amplifiers ($5995/pair), wherein class-A tubed input stages are mated with class-A/B FET output stages to produce 115Wpc of very sweet-sounding watts. In this pic, Red Wine CEO Vinnie Rossi shows off the innards of his Isabella preamplifier ($3995 without phono-stage option), which uses 6H30 "super tubes," yet also supports all triodes in the 6922 family.
At the room sponsored by New Jersey dealer CARE Audio, the Allnic T2000 integrated amplifier ($8900), whose tube cages suggest a horizon not unlike that of the Manhattan skyline, drove a pair of MAD Baron loudspeakers ($13,000/pair), itself fed by a Calyx FEMTO D/A converter ($6850) and a Musica Pristina A Cappella server ($6500).
On the wild and wacky social news and entertainment website reddit, there exists a subforum of curious, experienced, less-than experienced, and mostly kindly audiophiles who share pictures, experiences, and knowledge about their hi-fi adventures. Reddit meetups are a part of reddit culture, and prior to the show, we had big plans for this Saturday get together to take place at the Palace hotel lobby: a meet and greet, an epic photograph, and fried chicken! Apparently, not showing up for reddit meetups is also part of reddit culture.
These $3000 ear-speakers manufactured by the German division of Quad sure do look funny, but they made serious sound in the Headzone room. The Float-QA Headphones flanked gently down my temples and reproduced a carefree and natural delivery full of concert-hall realism. They require the accompanying Float QA-PSU to operate, and fit can be adjusted via a loose head strap. Though they felt a bit wobbly, I’m sure in a stable home setting, these things could easily let you drift away.
From left: Sound + Vision's Brent Butterworth, Sanjay Patel of Ciamara and Dave Lalin of the Audio Doctor. A third dealer rep, Tom Altobelli of Woodbridge Stereo, wasn't on hand for this session.
The New York Audio Show was highlighted by several outstanding seminars, providing additional value and even greater joy to a weekend-long event that was already packed with entertainment. I wish I could have attended all of the seminars, but, somewhat sadly, I actually missed most of them. I did, however, make it to the Saturday afternoon session of one well-attended seminar titled “Take the Intimidation out of Buying Audio,” moderated by Sound + Vision’s Brent Butterworth and with representatives from two unique NYC-area dealers: Ciamara’s Sanjay Patel and the Audio Doctor’s Dave Lalin.
When asked why a dealer is necessary to the hi-fi shopping experience, both Patel and Lalin cited their intimate knowledge, not only of individual components and brands, but especially of building complete systems that work well in a number of environments and with a wide range of music.