You should have seen the sad sack look on the faces of Your Final System's Kevin O'Brien and Endeavor Audio Engineering's Leif Swanson when I told them I was trying to restrict my coverage to new product introductions. "We were handicapped by a bad cable and bad USB input when you covered us at the California Audio Show last year," Kevin complained. "Give me one reason to stay here and I'll turn around," said I. . .
I've reported on this pairing before in show reports, but this was, by far, the best and most transparent sound I've heard from JansZen and exaSound. The top was nice and alive, the height and openness quite lovely, and the sound very natural and musical. Doing the honors were the brand new JansZen zA1.1 single-panel loudspeakers ($4495/pair), JansZen zA2.1 loudspeakers ($9400), exaSound flagship e22 native quad-rate DSD DAC ($3499) with "the world's first and exclusive support for DSD256 on Mac" and third-generation headphone amplifier, Emotiva electronics, and a stock USB cable.
In an exhibit surprisingly free of whisky (unless I was too preoccupied to notice), Music Hall offered proof that you don't have to break the bank (assuming you have one to begin with) in order to get good sound. "Very smooth, nice, and pleasant," I wrote of the enjoyable music from the new Music Hall C-DAC 15.3 three-input DAC/CD player ($549), Creek Evo 50a 55Wpc integrated amp ($1195), and Epos Elan15 bookshelf loudspeakers ($1395/pair). The player contains two different DACs, a Burr-Brown for CDs and a Wolfson for external sources. Source was a computer playing Pure Music, and connected to the C-DAC via optical.
Through the excellent Kingsound KingIII electrostats ($14,995/pair), Hegel H30 350Wpc amplifier ($15,000), Purity Audio Design new Reference class-A balanced linestage preamplifier ($10,995), Purity Audio Design Harmonia 300B tube buffer ($5500), M2Tech's new Young DSD/DCD DAC ($1699), Trigon CD II ($4250), and Dana Cables, music sounded very smooth but somewhat damped on top. A tenor sax sounded especially warm and inviting.
"Is this the same company whose A/D converter Jared Sacks of Channel Classics raves about?" I asked. When Bill Parish of GTT Audio & Video answered yes, I understood why. Grimm's LS1s three-way speaker system ($39,900/pair), which manages to fit hi-res ADC/DACs, a CC1 clock circuit, six amplifiers, DSP processor, integrated bass modules, cables and more into the two speaker cabinets pictured in the photo, is a virtually complete system that calls only for a source. In this case, the LS1s joined forces with a PC running JRiver Media Center and Kubala-Sosna power cords to produce gorgeous layering and tonality on Sacks' unedited DSD master of a Brahms Hungarian Dance.
With a name like Lampizator, as in Lukasz Fikus' "Audio from Poland with Love," who wouldn't be intrigued? The good news is, even paired with Vapor Audio's day-old Derecho loudspeakers ($7600/pair), which Ryan Scott builds behind his house in Hot Springs, MO, Lampizator's Level 7 DAC ($9650) and SQBX Based transport ($2650), Purity Audio's Silver Statement preamp ($35,000) with ultra power supply, and PSE300B 18W monoblocks ($26,000/pair with Sophia Electric 300B tubes), and Verastar cabling won me over with their beautiful sound.
Released in early April, Channel D's Pure Vinyl 4.0 ($299, or $139 for previous users) enables you to easily split tracks via automation. Rob Robinson (above) describes it as "a major upgrade in usability. We've smoothed the rough edges and made it easier to use, while retaining the same sound." (The list of at least 25 improvements takes up a full sheet.) The software also has a built-in crossover time-alignment feature for time alignment of subwoofers, thereby enabling the sounds of main speakers and subs to arrive at your ear at exactly the same time with maximum impact and slam.
Clayton Shaw, who designed Emerald Physics loudspeakers and founded the company, returned last year with Spatial Audio loudspeakers. The Spatial Hologram M2 standard ($1995/pair) contains a new Hologram Circuit, and is a completely passive, analog, high-efficiency, open-baffle speaker. Each baby contains two 12' mid/woofers and one coaxially mounted compression driver. Designed to eliminate floor bounce, it claims not to need DSP or bi-amping.
For the second year in a row, a fire alarm sounded in the middle of AXPONA's busiest afternoon. Although it seems that the warning didn't reach all floors, it sent some who did hear it scurrying. In my case, that meant grabbing my heavy jacket, computer, computer glasses, camera and monopod, and complete collection of show literature and notes and trudging down seven flights.
Since my focus was on new product introductions other than analog, which are being covered by Mikey Fremer on AnalogPlanet.com, all I'll say about the new Kronos Sparta turntable ($21,500) with Helena tonearm and AirTight PC-1 cartridge ($34,500 total) is that they sure sounded great in the context of the rest of GTT's system.