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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
The highly interactive Woo Audio room opened their doors to anyone who could pick up a set of headphones. Here a young audiophile listens to a new Woo headphone amp prototype, the GES MkII. Compared to the original GES, the Mk.II has a “wider voltage swing for greater speed and dynamic range.” It will be available for approximately $3500.
Woo Audio was SM's favorite listening experience at the show. Read more here
After listening to multi-thousand buck systems in nearly every room during the NYAS, the Audioengine room was a friendly reminder that great sound can be had without spending huge sums of money. In my first time hearing the powered Audioengine A2s ($199/pair), I fell for their appreciative sense of space and tone-full textures. Whether it was Andrea Bocelli or No Doubt, the Audioengines pumped the music with power and yet treated it with respect.
My friend Jenn Atocha was happy to present her latest LP cabinets. Like all Atocha Design products, these cabinets are handcrafted in the USA, made from sustainably harvested wood, and are formaldehyde- and lead-free. Unlike my inexpensive IKEA bookcases and other record-collection foster homes, which may or may not collapse at any moment, Atocha cabinets are made specifically for storing and showcasing a record collection. They are built to last and worthy of the term "heirloom-quality," meant to provide an entire lifetime of pleasure and use, before being passed on to future generations.
Although their designer Hanz Deutsch has spent the past ten years making pianos, he’s spent the past forty building loudspeakers. As trained opera singer and sound engineer, Brodmann brings the philosophies of instrument design to his loudspeakers. The speakers had a lively quality rich in harmonics. As the bow bounced off the strings of a violin, the Brodmanns recreated the reverberations as if next to the violin’s chamber. At the show, the company displayed their Jospeh Brodmann Concert Series ($39,900/pair), the Vienna Class Series ($24,900/pair), and Festival Series ($4500/pair), as pictured above from right to left.
There it was again, that damned canned jazz. This time it poured out in buckets from the tremendous Spendor Classic SP100R2 loudspeaker ($11,500/pair) pumped by the 160 Watt JA 200 Monoblocks from Jadis ($25,995/pair). This had to be stopped.
In an effort to control crowds, build anticipation, and give each listener a comfortable chance at the MBL experience, MBL and partnering dealer Sensorium AV provided twenty tickets to each of their hourly shows. MBL upped the ante this year with a multi-channel demonstration.
There was certainly a lot of hype surrounding the room: the long lines waiting to get in the demo, the even longer lines waiting for tickets, and the crushing riffs of Rush’s “YYZ” emanating out into the hallway. Attendees strolled out of the room giggling and carrying gift bags. While all the other rooms at this hi-fi show were the same walk-in, knock on the speakers, and walk-out ordeal, MBL and Sensorium AV wanted to make this an experience to remember.
Industry veteran Louis Manno was on-hand to remind show attendees about the Audio History Library and Museum, a non-profit organization that's dedicated to creating an on-line database of information on the domestic and pro audio industries. (To that end, Manno brought with him some of the more tangible audio specimens from his collection.) Individuals and businesses alike can contribute to this project in a variety of ways; details are available at www.audiohistory.com.
I've written before about the Washington state-based company Sjöfn HiFi and their remarkable little loudspeaker called the Clue ($999/pair): an inexplicably huge-sounding thing that does a far better job than average of putting across force, feel, and fun. The Sjöfn room at NYAS, sponsored by Outreach A/V of Westfield, New Jersey, went even further, with a double pair of Clues driven by a humble NAD integrated amplifier with a built-in D/A converter, itself fed by an Oppo Blu-Ray player and Squeezebox (offstage). A piece called Concerto for Jazz Drummer and Full Orchestra, written by composer/conductor Harold Farberman and performed with the great drummer Louie Bellson, sounded colorful and wild, just as it should have. That alone motivated me to request, finally, a pair of the Clue for review.