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John Atkinson Posted: Jan 16, 2014 0 comments
The Belgian Venture company introduced its Vidi speaker at CES. Costing $30,000/pair, the floorstanding, three-way Vidi speaker combines two 4" midrange units with a 1" tweeter and two 7" woofers, these mounted on the speaker’s sidewalls. All the drive-units use AGC (Abaca Graphite Composite) diaphragms. The crossover operates with first-order slopes at 250Hz and 3kHz and the speaker is specified as having a frequency range of 30Hz to 40kHz. Used fullrange but with an AW500 subwoofer also operating below 70Hz, the beautifully gloss-finished Vidis did a creditable job with the the live Bootleg Series recording of Bob Dylan’s "Desolation Row," played back from a laptop running the XX HighEnd software feeding digital data to a Weiss Medusa DAC. The opening up of the soundstage as the initially mono recording, made with a Nagra tape recorder, was spliced to the stereo backup tape when the Nagra ran out of tape, was delicious.
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John Atkinson Posted: Oct 22, 2010 0 comments
As with other Shows, RMAF gave audiophiles the opportunity to stock up on LPs—the original hi-rez medium—both old and new. This is the bazaar on the Marriott's ground floor, which was crowded throughout the Show.
John Atkinson Posted: Jul 10, 2011 0 comments
"The Voice That Is" is the name of a Newtown Square, PA, retailer and when I walked into their room, I had no idea what equipment I was listening to, as it was—again—totally dark! (I had to set my camera's "film speed" to a noisy 1600 to get a photo at all.) But the music playing, Stevie Ray Vaughan's "Tin Pan Alley" took me back a quarter century, when all you heard at audio shows was this cut. But it never sounded this good back then!

As my eyes accommodated to the darkness, I could make two pairs of Tidal speakers, the floorstanding Piano Diaceras ($37,690/pair) behind stand-mounted Ameas ($18.990/pair). Both feature ceramic-cone woofers and a diamond-dome tweeter but it was the Diaceras that were playing, connected with Argento cable to a Tidal Impact 140Wpc stereo amplifier ($35,990) and a Tidal Preas preamp ($27,990). Source was a MacBook Pro feeding USB data to a dCS Debussy D/A (my current reference, it shall be said, though in May I loaned it to Erick Lichte, who doesn't appear to want to send it back any time soon).

As if to confirm that it was 1987, the next track played was "Le temps passé" from the Michel Jonasz CD L'Histoire de Monsieur Swing. This is what I am talking about—a huge, stable soundstage, extending way beyond the speaker positions; smooth, grain-free highs, tight, tuneful, deep lows, and a pure, coloration-free midrange—and all of this in service of the music, adding to the experience instead of substituting for it. It doesn't get much better than this!

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John Atkinson Posted: Apr 17, 2011 1 comments
I first heard the Voxativ Ampeggio speaker ($29,750/pair) at the 2011 Montreal Show, where I was gobsmacked by what I heard. In a beautiful, high-gloss enclosure from the Schimmell piano company was a single drive-unit with an old-fashioned "whizzer" cone that resembled but wasn't a Lowther unit, which is was loaded with a rear-loaded horn. Such designs offer enormously high sensitivity—the speakers at Axpona filled the room with sound using a Fi WE421A single-ended amplifier ($3275) that offered just 4Wpc for its single dual-triode output tube—but my experience with Lowthers is that they can sound equally enormously colored. But the Ampeggios, seen here with importer Gideon Schwartz, just produced the same uncolored, dynamic-sounding music in Atlanta as they had in Canada. I'll be driving up to Artie Dudley's in upstate New York in a few weeks to listen to and measure the Voxativs in his room. Intrigued by what I'll find.
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John Atkinson Posted: Jan 16, 2013 0 comments
The German Voxativ Ampeggio Signature by Schimmel loudspeaker ($32,500/pair) was Stereophile's surprise Product of 2011, wresting well-balanced sound from its single drive-unit. At the 2013 T.H.E. Show, designer Inès Adler showed her Ampeggio Duo ($100,000/pair), which still uses a single full-range drive-unit, but this time field-coil–energized and with a wooden cone, said to have the same mass as a conventional paper cone but 100x stiffer. The large, wide, piano-lacquered enclosure horn-loads the rear of the cone and the speaker is claimed to have a –3dB point of 25Hz. Driven by KR amplifications, the 100dB-sensitivity Ampeggio Duos produced the kick drum on Dire Straits' "Sultans of Swing" with surprising weight.
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John Atkinson Posted: Jun 26, 2011 1 comments
Art Dudley mentioned earlier in this show report the Audio Power Laboratories tube monoblocks driving Wharfedale's new Neo Airedale flagship loudspeakers ($25,000/pair). Source was a Musical Fidelity CD player, preamp an Audio Research, and the sound in this room was indeed one of the best at Axpona: extended lows, clean highs, and impressive dynamic range.
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John Atkinson Posted: Oct 20, 2011 0 comments
Zesto Audio was a name new to me, but their versatile Andros PS1 tubed MM/MC phono stage ($3900) was getting great sound from Billie Holiday's "Day In, Day Out," played on a Thorens TD309 player ($1900) fitted with a Dynavector DV-20X2L cartridge ($850). The rest of the system comprised a ModWright LS 100 tube preamp ($3495) and ModWright KWA 150 solid-state amplifier driving Fritz Carbon 7, Rev.5 speakers ($1795–$1950/pair), wired with WyWires.
Wes Phillips John Atkinson Posted: Nov 12, 2006 Published: Dec 12, 2006 0 comments
Wes Phillips on the Sessions
One of the enduring myths of audiophilia is that of the recording as a true and honest picture of a musical event—a sonic "snapshot" that captures a unique moment of time the way a photograph captures the light of a day long since past.
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John Atkinson Posted: Sep 16, 2006 0 comments
Neil Sinclair gave me a tour of Theta’s new multi-channel amp, which keeps the signal exclusively in the digital domain from the S/PDIF inputs to the PWM output stage, the latter said to operate at the super-high frequency of 1MHz. Designed by veteran amp engineer Dave Reich, what is in effect a powerDAC—that’s what it says on the output-stage printed circuit boards—will find its way, I hope, into some two-channel products in due course.
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John Atkinson Posted: Nov 29, 2012 22 comments
Thiel co-founders the late Jim Thiel (left) and Kathy Gornik (right) at the 2009 CES

We received the following press release last night. No more information was available and there was no word when this story was first posted on whether or not Thiel cofounder Kathy Gornik will remain with the company. Since then, however, has reported that Kathy and her daughter Dawn Cloyd, who was director of international sales, will both leave Thiel. Why the sale? Our suspicion is that while Thiel remains a great brand, it is too small a company, with no access to a significant source of capital, to be able to compete effectively in today's market.


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