Tri-Art Audio of Canada displayed its complete mid-level Bam Bam system, whose cost was under $35,000. Built to a very strict price point, the electronics, all stuffed with sheep's woolwhy didn't they name it the Bah Bah system?included the new Bam Bam passive preamplifier ($1295), which is housed in a solid wood cabinet and allows for passive bi-amping and tri-amping without an electronic crossover; Bam Bam 75Wpc class-D balanced amplifier #75-S ($1995); and Bam Bam 24V battery power supply ($900).
Philip Bamberg's Bamberg Audio was playing the Series 5 TMW ($8800/pair) and displaying the Steries 2 TMM ($4800/pair) when I entered. The 5 is a 3-way design with a 375W active woofer, parametric EQ, and separate monitor. It is said to descend flat to 25Hz, and down to 18Hz 6dB.
Is this the third consecutive show where the sound of Balanced Audio Technology (BAT) electronics has won me over? BAT doesn't need to either sugar-coat or tone down its tube sound, because its openness, clarity, and musical truth are so spot-on. IMHO, of course. The sound was so good that I didn't even bother to take notes on the music I heard.
"This is a pretty major change for us," says Balanced Audio Technology's Steve Bednarski of the change from capacitor-coupled outputs to custom output transformers in their three new VK-P12 phono stagesthe VK-P12 ($7995), VK-P12SE ($9995), and new flagship VK-P12SE SuperPak ($12,495). Unfortunately, none had arrived at the time I visited the room. Instead I encountered a display of the new VK-3000SE ($7995) 150Wpc into 8 ohms hybrid integrated amplifier, whose preamp stage is outfitted with the same 6H30 SuperTube used in the Rex II preamplifier. Also new are the VK-P6SE phono stage ($5995) and VK-P6 ($3495) phono stage.
In a handsomely equipped room that showcased the dual-mono lithium battery-powered Veloce LS-1 linestage ($18,000), Veloce V6 400Wpc monoblock amplifiers ($15,000/pair) with their tube input and class-D output stage, YG Acoustics Carmel loudspeakers ($18,000/pair), none-too-shabby Audio Aero “La Source” CD/SACD player (approx. $40,000), and Kubala-Sosna’s Emotion and Elation cabling (no price supplied), I initially thought the sound a tad dry. But then I warmed to the remarkably clear and unencumbered presentation of jazz, which was also distinguished by engaging three-dimensionality. On tracks by Tommy Flanagan and Holly Cole, I found the transparency remarkable, and greatly enjoyed the height and space of the images.
If you value smoothness and liquidity, the eye-catching system from Beauty of Sound and KT Audio Imports was to fall in love with. Playing Aaron Neville's aptly named LP Warm Your Heart, the sound was so warm, sweet and mellow, and the presentation so beautiful and spacious, that it was a challenge not to feel as though I had died and gone to heaven.
All the way from East Greenbush, New York, Bill Demars of Beauty of Sound was showing the brand new Ikeda 9TT moving-coil cartridge ($3800) on The Emperor Turntable, whose total price ($17,400) includes both the cartridge and Ikeda IT-407CR1 tonearm ($6500). The cartridge's body parts are made of an aluminum alloy, and the cantilever is made of a double-layered hard aluminum alloy in order to reduce possible distortion from warped platters. Appropriate stylus downforce is 1.75gram2.25gram, and frequency range is 10Hz45kHz
In a room tuned and focused by a fascinating assortment of diminutive Acoustic Resonators, Behold's modular electronics and Ascendo's loudspeakers offered a great sense of air and depth, albeit with an at times oversized sense of proportion on the Reference Recordings Rachmaninoff Symphonic Dances. Ralf Ballmann, designer of the Behold audiophile product line, assures me that the name Behold was not chosen for its biblical connotations. The line was first introduced at CES 2004, and is now distributed by Behold USA of New York. The preamp-to-amp connection is accomplished by a narrow, unobtrusive 50 ohm cable that ranks high for spouse acceptance factor. I’d love to hear this system in larger quarters.