In one of three rooms sponsored by the dealer Acoustique Technologies, Marten Getz 2 loudspeakers ($23,000/pair) were driven by a pair of Manley 250 "Neo-Classic Design" mono amplifiers ($13,750/pair), in turn driven by a Manley "Neo-Classic Design" 300B preamplifier ($6500) and fed by a Feickert Woodpecker turntable/tonearm combination ($6090) with Dynavector XX2 cartridge ($2150).
Of one room I can honestly say: The sound pulled me in. A succession of convincingly deep, tactile drumbeats caught my ear, and I followed the thwacks to Cabasse, where the Sphère ($150,000/pair, more or less, and reviewed by Michael Fremer a year or so back) held court, driven by Cabasse's own Bel Canto-sourced amps; the Cabasse outboard digital crossover; and McIntosh's C2300 preamp and MCD500 SACD/CD player. No less impressive was Christophe Cabasse himself (left), who patiently led me through the Sphère's impressive technical backgroundin English, I'm thankful to say. Monsieur Cabasse also reminded me that his company celebrates its 60th anniversary this year, having been founded by Georges Cabasse (père) all the way back in 1960.
It was 89°outside at 11am on the opening day of Capital Audiofest in Rockville, MD, a day when the high temperatures were predicted to reach the mid-90sthe show continues today and tomorrow. One could be forgiven for asking: why not spend the day at an audio show in a nice, newly renovated, air-conditioned hotel? Why not, indeed. There are 58 individual exhibits here, representing God-only-knows-how-many different brands: Munich High End it ain't, but then Munich isn't a 25-minute Metro ride from our nation's endearingly dysfunctional capital.
To hear the system demonstrated by The Voice That Is was to conclude, on the basis of that experience and previous experiences with systems put together by proprietor Doug White, that the man is utterly incapable of making bad sound
I like the out-of-the-ordinary, possibly because I have been disappointed by the ordinary often enough that I'm not uncomfortable looking elsewhere. So I'll admit up-front that I was predisposed toward enjoying Larsen loudspeakers, from Sweden, which are designed to perform their best, not in an anechoic chamber but in a real room, when positioned up against a real wall. Even that bit of psychological preconditioning didn't prepare me for how impressed I was by the Larsen 8 ($7000/pair), driven by a GamuT Di150 integrated amplifier ($13,990), itself fed by a Pear Audio Blue Kid Howard turntable ($5000 w/tonearm) and an Ortofon Cadenza Black cartridge.
Michel Plante, the President of Salon Son et Image, offered a pre-show glimpse of something new: the Personal Audio Zone, where visitors are free to try any of over 150 different pairs of headphones, representing nearly 30 different brands. During this morning’s setup, the ‘phones were being arranged on their tables in order of expense, from the $22 pair nearest the door to the $1600 pair at the far end of the room. Michel Plante said that he’s “trying to create a buzz about headphones, in order to attract younger listeners to the show,” and that he has made it as affordable as possible for headphone manufacturers to participate. (The Personal Audio Zone is staffed by SSI volunteers, not manufacturers or their reps.)
In yet another Coup de Foudre room, a Clearaudio record player acted as source for a Unico Nuovo integrated amplifier ($2400, with phono section), itself driving a pair of ASW 404 loudspeakers ($2000/pair). This relatively affordable system loaded the room nicely, and sounded hypnotically good on “Autumn Leaves” from the Cannonball Adderley album Somethin’ Else.