Wilson seems to not only have a lot of dealersShadi’s Santa Monica-based Audio Salon is onebut also possesses a most intelligent marketing strategy that leads it to honor requests for loaner loudspeakers when it feels the products they’ll be paired with at shows are up to snuff. In this case, were they ever! Alongside the Wilson Sabrina loudspeakers ($15,900/pair) in the Audio Salon room were singing components of very different price points. . .
The Rocky Mountain Audio Fest decided to give press a head start this time around by inviting us in two hours before the show's official noon opening on Friday. While not all manufacturers got on boardseveral of the rooms I tried to visit on the 2nd floor of the Marriott Denver Tech Center's Tower were lockeddigital audio pioneer dCS leaped into the breach by staging a 10am press conference for the official release of the dCS Rossini CD player. The company's Martin Reynolds (above) flew over from the UK to do the presentation.
Andy Carr, Marketing Director of the UK's Cambridge Audio, introduced two of the company's systems: a CX series system that included Cambridge Audio Aeromax 2 bookshelf speakers ($649/pair), and an 851 series that used Aeromax 6 floorstanders ($1299/pair). Both speaker models incorporate Cambridge Audio's BMR (Balanced Mode Radiator) drivers and dedicated subwoofers. Playing a FLAC file of Eric Bibb's "Rocking Chair" through, I believe, the CXN upsampling network music player ($999), the lower priced system ($2700 total + XLO cabling) produced really nice, smooth sound that felt just right for grabbing a beer, settling down, and mellowing out . . .
One of several low-cost, high quality exhibits at Axpona came from Jaton. Based in Fremont, CA, Jaton sources its speaker components from Germany and other parts of Europe, but assembles them in China. It amps, which include 14 Mundorf caps in the amp proper and four more in the power sector, are assembled in Fremont. Everything is designed by the company's unnamed and extremely secretive CEO, who only began to enter the high-end market a few years ago.
At the other end of the room from the JBL Everest DD-66000 I wrote about on the first day, Design Interaction was switching between the JBL 1400 Array ($11,000/pair) and Revel Ultima2 Salon loudspeakers ($22,000/pair), both speakers very well-reviewed in Stereophile. Heard through a dark-charactered Mark Levinson No.532 amp ($20,000), No.512 SACD player ($15,000), and No.526A preamp ($10,000), hooked up by MIT Oracle cables ($3500, with allocation not specified), the much fêted Revels smoked the less expensive JBLs, I thought.
On ground level in the Design Interaction room, a pair of JBL DD-66000 Everest loudspeakers ($60,000/pair) were especially imposing in the bass department. Driven by the Mark Levinson No.326 preamp ($10,000), Levinson No.512 SACD player ($15,000), a discontinued Levinson No.433 ($11,000) on the bass, a Pass Labs XVR01 for the crossover, and a Pass Labs XA30.5 30Wpc class-A amplifier on the horns, all connected by MIT cabling, the system had great authority. The presentation had the characteristically dark Levinson sound, with some curious extra bass resonance on the voice of mezzo Lorraine Hunt Lieberson. Branford Marsalis's music, on the other hand, sounded just fabulous.
Strange that I, who often blogs about cables and lives may 40 minutes from JIB-Germany's US headquarters in Fremont, CA, has yet to meet them anywhere but at shows. Certainly the company's oxygen-free copper cabling, which has been available for two years, looks promising in passive display mode, and sounded good in a diminutive Napa Valley Acoustics system. Certainly JIB's literature, which touts cables for hi-fi and home cinema, is beautifully put together. Belle Tsai tells me that cables range in price from $200$1000, depending upon model number. The company even sells earbuds. Gotta try some of these babies sometime.
The California Audio Show welcomed the debut showing of the eye-catching JIB line of cables. I say eye-catching because the diminutive sound system at one end of the room was intended solely to provide soft background music for a static display.
La Stupenda is no more. The brilliant coloratura soprano Joan Sutherland, who died a thousand deaths onstage after emitting flawless high E-flats, died at her home near Montreux, Switzerland, on Sunday, October 10. Her death was confirmed by her frequent stage partner and friend, mezzo-soprano Marilyn Horne.
Despite being the kick-off seminar presenter on Friday, and starting just one hour after the doors opened, John Atkinson herded almost a full house to "Garbage In, Garbage Out." An expanded version of a seminar he originally delivered at RMAF 2012, the description reads:
Making value judgments on audio components using commercial recordings has pitfalls that many writers gloss over. The way recordings are made drastically affects what you hear from your system, explains John Atkinson using his own recordings as examples.