When I return home from Montreal I'll be able to tell my 16-year-old daughter, truthfully, that I listened to Lorde's "The Royals" on a very good system, the value of which rivals the expected cost of her first two years of college. Included in this Coup de Foudre-sponsored system were a Luxman DA-06 D/A converter ($5000), Luxman C 900 preamp ($19,000), the big Luxman M 900 stereo amp ($19,000), and Vivid Giya G3 loudspeakers ($40,000), used with Cardas cables.
Much ink has been spilled, and rightly so, on the topic of the LP's recent and apparently durable resurrection as a playback medium. The corpse may not be quite as lively after death as before, but it is nonetheless arguably more Lazarus than Lavoisier (the latter having managed nothing more than to wink at the crowd following his time on the guillotineas he boasted, in life, that he would do).
Let's not beat around the bush: this is what an amplifier is supposed to look like. The silver front panel contains over a dozen knobs and switches, yet somehow avoids seeming cluttered. The solid wood cabinet wouldn't look out of place next to Hugh Hefner's cognac decanter. And the controls! The SQ-38u is as full-function as they come ("as they used to come" would be closer to the truth), with a Balance knob, separate Bass and Treble Tone Controls, a low-frequency cutoff (aka "rumble") switch labeled Low Cut, a Mono/Stereo switch, and a mute button; plus switching and connectors for two pairs of loudspeakers. Everything but curb feelers.
Waiting for an opportunity to photograph recordist Todd Garfinkle, of MA Recordings, was no small task: Just one hour into the New York show on Friday, his exhibit was jammed with eager music buyers, and I had to wait several (enjoyable) minutes before the crowd thinned enough that he could take a break.
AudioShop, the Canadian distributor for Cabasse loudspeakers, demonstrated the interesting combination of Cabasse loudspeakers with McIntosh electronics, focusing in particular on the latter company’s model 601 monoblock power amplifiers ($11,500/pair), driven directly by the MCD 1100 CD player ($10,000). The loudspeakers seen here (which, I’m told, sold for $16,000 per pair in passive form) sounded impressively punchy, but, with all due respect, this system was being played at a volume level I considered both uncomfortable and unrealistically loud, so I didn’t linger long.
It only looks as though Steve Silberman of Audioquest is trying to ignore a corpse behind the loudspeakers; in actual fact he's explaining the finer points of JRiver playback softwarea topic in which he is remarkably conversantwhile a colleague works on their system's cabling.
Manley tube electronicsthe same 300B preamplifier plus a pair of Snapper ampswere used in another Acoustique Technologies room, where they drove a pair of Nola Metro Grand Reference III loudspeakers ($30,900), with the Meitner MA-1 D/A converter ($7000) as a source. I'm sorry to say the Nolas proved impossible to photograph in the back-lit but otherwise dark and very crowded room. And the excessive volume leveland consequently harsh treblesdiscouraged me from lingering.
I was intrigued by the new MartinLogan Dynamo 1500X subwoofer ($1595), but even more so in a relatively humble accessory that M-L offers to buyers of their current subwoofers: the Perfect Bass Kit or PBK ($100), comprising a stand plus a USB microphone, the latter to connect between your woofer and your PC in order to optimize positioning and setup.