What more can be said about Audioengine's flagship self-powered loudspeakers, the A5 ($399/pair) and A2 ($199/pair), than has already been said? We currently use the bigger babies for sound on an antiquated TV in my husband's man cave, aka "the cottage," and they're astounding for the price. The speakers were showing off thanks to several prototype Audioengine products that are still in the development stage.
Gingko Audio demmed a more than chump change system, some of whose components' names showed that imagination is alive and well in the high-end. Playing a VPI Traveler turntable ($1400) with Grado Prestige Gold ($200), Gingko Audio Cloud 9T ($349), and Gingko Audio dust cover ($279); Jolida Fusion preamp ($1500), Wells Audio Innamorata amplifier ($6000), Music Culture Technologies MC501A USB CD player ($3995), Gingko Audo ClaraVu 7 full-range loudspeakers ($6990/pair), DanaCable Black Max 88 speaker cables ($2995), and Gingko Audio Platformula rack ($2995), bass sounded decent, but a recording of Gustav Mahler's Symphony 5 that the exhibitor chose otherwise sounded bright and glassy.
Scores of DIYers are familiar with Madisound, a company that distributes raw drivers, passive crossover parts, and speaker building supplies, some in kit form. On display were the SEAS of Norway A26 loudspeaker kit with a 10" SEAS A26RE4 woofer and the T35C002 1.5" dome tweeterover 1 million sold, I was toldand the Scan-Speak Nada, with a 7" Illuminator woofer and 1" Beryllium dome tweeter.
It was nearing the end of the day of the first day of the show, and I hadn't covered nearly enough exhibits to ensure blogs for every room on floors 4 and 5, plus a number of others that I had agreed to cover. That, I figured, was why I found myself increasingly breathless as I ran from room to room, listening to less and less music before jotting down a few notes and heading out the door.
Then I entered the Coincident Speaker Technology room, heard some gorgeous music, and realized the underlying reason for my near-frantic pace.
Whisky, music, and chatter were all flowing, not necessarily in that order of priority, in the Music Hall room. Actual order of importance was determined by the visitors, of whom there were plenty, with a little boost from the high-proof atmosphere. Nonetheless, amidst a din too intense for serious listening, and preparations for the evening's dance party in the hotel Atrium that Music Hall was co-sponsoring with Chicago's Tweak Studio, Roy Hall and Leland Leard were managing to give complete and cogent raps about the equipment playing through the din.
At the center of SVS loudspeaker demo were its prototype, hand-built Ultra Series Ultra Towers ($1999/pair), with a rated response of 28Hz22kHz (±3dB). Due November 20, the speaker's trapezoidal cabinet, which has no parallel lines, was blasting raucous, sinfully compressed, ridiculously tipped up rock courtesy of Classé's CA-2300 amplifier and CP-800 preamp. Once the energy shifted, I enjoyed the lovely touch of sanity delivered by cellist Antonio Lysy (from Antonio Lysy At the Broad on Yarlung Records playing Piazzola's "Oblivion" on a fabulous CD that is also available in hi-res download format from Linn. And when the Ultra Series is released, it will also include the SVS Ultra Bookshelf ($999/pair), SVS Ultra Center ($699), and SVS Ultra Surround ($1199/pair).
The natty Barnaby Fry, Philip O’Hanlon’s rival in the bow tie department, was getting good sound from a handmade-in-the-UK system, consisting of Rega’s RP6 Limited Edition Union Jack Version turntable, shown complete with cartridge and electronic speed control ($2095), Apollo-R CD player ($1095), DAC ($995), and Brio-R integrated amp ($895). Chord cabling held the system together (and a whole lot more), and fed signal from the electronics to MC’s twenty.21 ($2600$2800/pair, depending upon finish), a stand mount monitor from the same Professional Monitoring Company that is said to help standardize the BBC’s studio sound.
Dali’s Thomas Knudsen may look a bit shy, but he was quite proud of the show debut of Dali’s Epicon 8 loudspeakers ($20,000/pair). Hidden from view were Naim’s NAC 172 streaming preamp ($2895), CD5i-2 ($1795), NAP 250-2 ($5995), and the UnitiServe SSD ($3995) network server with bit-perfect CD ripping capability.
The Sound Organisation’s Naim system inspired me to jot “very musical and complete” in my notes. On active duty were Naim’s NDS reference network player equipped with their top DAC ($10,995) with separate 555PS power supply ($9645), NAC202 upgradable preamp ($3295) with separate power supply ($2195), NAP250-2 80Wpc stereo amplifier ($5995), and S400 loudspeaker ($6495/pair in the finish shown).
Across the hallway from the Xeo dem, on the fourth floor of the Marriott Atrium, Dynaudio and T+A featured two systems. The one I heard delivered solid, satisfying sound from Dynaudio’s Focus 260 floorstanders ($4900/pair) driven by T+A’s Power Plant balanced Vollverstärker integrated amplifier ($3100) and Music Player balanced multi-source CD player/DAC/streaming client ($4400). The latter can be controlled with T+A’s recently released Control App.