One look at Gig Harbor Audio's events for September makes you stop and wonder. This month, the store, located near the water in the picturesque town of Gig Harbor, WA less than an hour from Seattle, began the month with a live concert by homegrown band, Rokkerbox, which benefitted for the local food bank. Next on the schedule are a three-hour "Social Media Basics" workshop with Tiffany Burke (September 20), a weekly hour-long "Disc After Dark" all-ages listening party (September 22), and a PTSD Healing Summit (September 25). With not a single presentation by an industry heavyweight, and lots of events aimed at the wider community, this is not your typical schedule for a high-end emporium.
The Music First Audio system, which included the Music First Audio Step-up and Music First Audio Baby Reference preamplifier (in front, in red), helped create a midrange-strong system that, on a recording by Eva Cassidy, sounded very smooth indeed. Favoring the midrange over brilliance in orchestral fare, the system transmitted the natural resonance of horns, and credibly communicated the full and meaty sounds of violins.
The vendor display at THE Show was up and going strong throughout the four days. Classic Records, who clearly didn't want to attract any attention, joined Acoustic Sounds, Chesky, Elusive Disc, HDtracks.com, MA Recordings, Music Direct, Reference Recordings, themusic.com, Ultra Systems, Truextent, Quality Rare Records, and Parts Express.
The picture shows the inside of Nagra's new HD Amp, whose 6 output devices are specified as driving 270W into 8 ohms, 1kW into 2 ohms. The HD Amp was on passive display, but Nagra's all-Nagra component chain, feeding Wilson Audio Sabrina loudspeakers, made quite a favorable impression.
In an era when music as instant entertainment enjoys increasing dominance over music as art, cellular phones have emerged as the latest purveyor of music on demand. Issues of sound quality mean little when the goal is to accumulate more and more files at an ever-accelerating pace and have ever easier access to those files.
Roy Hall's Music Hall was showing several nifty little systems. Making its official debut as well as show debut, the Creek Audio Evolution 5350 Integrated amplifier ($1795), which has been around for perhaps a decade in various proven incarnations, was sending its 120Wpcs into 8 ohms signal from the Creek Destiny CD player ($2495) into the handsomely slim (were we all only as. . .) Epos M22i loudspeakers ($2599/pair). This system was uncompromising in its portrayal of brash rock as exactly that. No euphonic roll-off or soft-pedaling allowed! Switch to the Oscar Peterson Trio, and you'll hear a very different, sweet sound on piano and bass.
Don't bother to tell Music Lovers Audio that audio sales have slowed. At a time when many dealers have abandoned two-channel audio altogether or chosen between de-emphasizing music and calling it quits, this Bay Area audio retailer has opened a second store a mere 30 miles from the original North Berkeley location, across the Bay in San Francisco.
"Smash and grab thieves," as Bay Area media are wont to call them, have hit Music Lovers Audio in San Francisco for the second time in a month. This time, at 4am on Wednesday, March 4, three thieves wearing bandanas or ski masks over their faces and either long hoodies or overcoats drove up in a red truck, smashed one of the store's windows, and tried to make off with as much they could.
In a four-room, every-seat-filled extravaganza that rivaled some of the Music Matters events in the number of high-quality components simultaneously on active display, the Berkeley, CA wing of Music Lovers Audio devoted the afternoon of December 5 to showcasing components from Vivid, dCS, Wilson, Luxman, Spectral, and other companies. With Philip O'Hanlon of On A Higher Note (distributor of Vivid, Luxman, and other brands), John R. Quick (dCS), Peter McGrath (Wilson Audio), and yours truly (above) on hand to give introductions and offer guidelines on how to listen and evaluate, a large store filled with audiophiles auditioned four fine-sounding systems at four different price points.
Telarc, Classic Records, AIX, Cisco Music, Elusive Disc, Reference Recordings, and M•A Recordings have all pulled out of CES 2007, citing new restrictions on sales of merchandise that they feel to be unacceptable. Chesky remains undecided. Music Direct, May Audio, and Acoustic Sounds will exhibit, but will not sell product. Only 5.1 Marketing and Sales is currently committed to selling music.