The VMPS RM 30 Series II Ribbon Speaker ($3500/pair) marry dynamic woofers to push/pull planar-magnetic ribbon speakers for a claimed frequency response of 34Hz to “nearly” 40kHz. They were certainly moving a lot of musical air but also had to battle a very noisy and booming neighbor. Take it to another hotel! Associated gear included the Ampzilla 2000 Series II 300W monoblocks ($7500/pair), Ampzilla Ambrosia Series II preamp ($7500), W4S DAC 2 and Nuforce DAC9 converters ($1500$1695), Wywires interconnects and speaker cable, VMPS dedicated subwoofer with 500W amp ($979), a modified DCX2496 controller/processor ($1600) for room correction, and an Audience Adept Response aR6 power conditioner.
While there was nothing new to report on in the Audio Engine room, at least nothing I could tell you and let you live, it’s always worth reporting on the inexpensive and even better than good-sounding-for-the-money AudioEngine speakers. Our daughters each have a pair of the AudioEngine 2.0s ($199/pair) for use with their iDevices and even they brag about the sound quality.
A new-to-me line of battery-powered electronics from Veloce Audio from Ambler, PA, coupled to the YG Acoustics Carmel speakers ($18,000/pair) made some convincingly lovely music from vinyl and digital. The Veloce gear included the Platino SeriesLS1 linestage ($15,000), LP-1 Phono Module, which gets its power from the LS-1 but a stand-alone version is in the works, and the 120W into 8 ohms, class-D Platino V6 monoblock amplifier (projected price $14,000/pair). If the idea of batteries runs you down, the LS1 linestage can run for a claimed 100 hours on a charge and the V6 for 40 hours. Front end duties were handled by an Amazon 1 turntable and the PS Audio Perfect Wave Transport ($2999.99) and DAC ($2999.99). I’d have rounded the prices one way or another if I was PS Audio but I’m not.
Hsu Research was showing off its reasonably priced HB-1 Mk2 Horn Bookshelf Speaker ($149/pair in black, $179/pair in real wood veneer) and the oh-so-subwoofery VTF-15H subwoofer ($879). One thing I’ve noticed about most subwoofer demos isvolume (that really should be in all caps but I don’t want to shout). Lots of volume. While this isn’t necessarily a criticism, I felt an overwhelming sense of calm in Hsu’s silent static-display room next door.
To suggest that Vincent Audio pushes the boundaries of taste in some of its ads is, I think, not overstating the obvious, and using women as props to sell hi-fi gear is probably not the best way to get more women interested in the hobby if that’s what you’re interested in doing. But hey, I’m all for enthusiasm and it takes all forms.
The hybrid tube/solid-state Vincent SP-T800 200W monoblock amplifiers ($2499.95/pair) were on display along with the Vincent SA-T8 preamp (2349.95), the PS Audio Perfect Wave DAC ($2999.99), a Thorens TD 2030 turntable ($3699) and the very refined “The Kiss” speakers ($15,000/pair w/stands) from Vienna Acoustic’s Klimt Series. The lovely and from what I’ve heard talented Jessi Monroe was also in the Vincent Audio room signing autographs. You may recall Jesse from Stephen Mejias’ Axpona Atlanta coverage.
The GamuT room was chock-full of gear from GamuT, LA Audio, and Triangle Art Turntables. In use was the GamuT M250 monoblocks ($20,995/pair), GamuT D31 preamp ($7500), GamuT CD3 ($6500), the M’inenT M7 loudspeakers ($17,000/pair), and the Triangle Art Reference Turntable ($20,995). While the sound from this system was intriguing in a visceral way, there was too much speaker and power for this poor little battered hotel room to handle. Even though the speakers were angled way in to avoid room boundary reinforcement, there was still some sonic boom.
I heard a number of exhibitors complaining about the bass issues caused by these rooms, oddly not so much from the subwoofer guys, so it's worth repeating that old show report caveatwe’re only talking about a very brief listen to unfamiliar components in unfamiliar systems in typically lousy rooms at times involving typically lousy music (albeit well-recorded), so I try to keep personal commentary on sound quality to a minimum.
The self-powered (three 130W amplifiers) Phoenix loudspeakers ($5400/pair) from Precision Transducer Engineering (PTE) aren’t for sissies. Especially when they’re used in conjunction with a powered subwoofer strapped to a 400W class-A/B amp of its own. In a tiny hotel room. New electronics from Townshend Audio were also in use, including the Glastonbury Pre 1 preamplifier ($13,000) and the Glastonbury CD Universal Player ($16,000). Vinyl was handled by a SpJ La Luce Turntable. I was actually enjoying my time in the PTE room until someone decided to see how far they could flex the walls and ceiling with soundwaves.
PTE also makes a larger loudspeaker, The Statement ($44,000/pair), which they were going to play later in the day but I didn’t make it back in time. Okay, I admit itI didn't go back because I was afraid.
The complete system from German manufacturer Lindemann was news to me. Comprised of the 825 High Definition Disc Player ($9900), 830S Stereo Control Amplifier ($9900), 855 Dual-mono Power Amplifier ($13,900) and the BL-10 (Dixie!) loudspeakers ($11,000/pair) this system was graceful and very easy to like. Sounds like more.
Do you see that picture of Zu Audio’s Sean Casey? See him smiling? I took a whole bunch of pictures in the Zu room and I’ll be damned if Sean isn’t smiling in every one. Part of the reason he’s smiling, I’m guessing, is because he’s enjoying himself and the music he’s spinning on those tricked out Technics turntables (Rega RB700 tonearms “with nuts” and Zu Denon 301 cartridges). In the brief time I was there we heard Beck, The Silver Jews, and Steve Earle on the Zu Soul Superfly loudspeakers ($3000/pair), with the Audion Silver Knight integrated amp and a Rane pre/mixer. You can't see it in the picture but I was smiling too.
One other way to get more people interested in this wonderful hobby of ours is to have fun listening to great music and to show it.
I have to admit I’ve been intrigued by the Haniwa rooms I’ve heard and the company's room at T.H.E. Show Newport Beach was no exception. And I think what I find so interesting is their quirkiness. (I mean that in the best possible way.) The tiny Compact 2-Way Horn Speakers HSP2B06 sounded fast, light and all-over micro-detailfaster than a speeding bullet. The music choice was equally micro-detailed and faster than a speeding bullet (not to mention quirky), a marriage made out of a kind of obsession. Or at least I’d like to think so.
Personality is all over hi-fi. And while I’d hope that each designer designs what he considers his or her best, the best just doesn’t exist. And it doesn’t exist because we, the people, like different aspects of musical reproduction. The means are different because the ends are, too. Which helps explain why there’s so much wonderful gear out there and so many people interested in hearing and buying it.
While I didn’t get any official numbers for the first day’s attendance at T.H.E. Show, I can say it was very crowded especially, for a Friday afternoon. (I purposely tried to photograph gear not people so don’t let that fool you.) Based on what I saw Friday, I'd say this show is already a great success.