These $3000 ear-speakers manufactured by the German division of Quad sure do look funny, but they made serious sound in the Headzone room. The Float-QA Headphones flanked gently down my temples and reproduced a carefree and natural delivery full of concert-hall realism. They require the accompanying Float QA-PSU to operate, and fit can be adjusted via a loose head strap. Though they felt a bit wobbly, I’m sure in a stable home setting, these things could easily let you drift away.
In an effort to control crowds, build anticipation, and give each listener a comfortable chance at the MBL experience, MBL and partnering dealer Sensorium AV provided twenty tickets to each of their hourly shows. MBL upped the ante this year with a multi-channel demonstration.
There was certainly a lot of hype surrounding the room: the long lines waiting to get in the demo, the even longer lines waiting for tickets, and the crushing riffs of Rush’s “YYZ” emanating out into the hallway. Attendees strolled out of the room giggling and carrying gift bags. While all the other rooms at this hi-fi show were the same walk-in, knock on the speakers, and walk-out ordeal, MBL and Sensorium AV wanted to make this an experience to remember.
There it was again, that damned canned jazz. This time it poured out in buckets from the tremendous Spendor Classic SP100R2 loudspeaker ($11,500/pair) pumped by the 160 Watt JA 200 Monoblocks from Jadis ($25,995/pair). This had to be stopped.
Although their designer Hanz Deutsch has spent the past ten years making pianos, he’s spent the past forty building loudspeakers. As trained opera singer and sound engineer, Brodmann brings the philosophies of instrument design to his loudspeakers. The speakers had a lively quality rich in harmonics. As the bow bounced off the strings of a violin, the Brodmanns recreated the reverberations as if next to the violin’s chamber. At the show, the company displayed their Jospeh Brodmann Concert Series ($39,900/pair), the Vienna Class Series ($24,900/pair), and Festival Series ($4500/pair), as pictured above from right to left.
After listening to multi-thousand buck systems in nearly every room during the NYAS, the Audioengine room was a friendly reminder that great sound can be had without spending huge sums of money. In my first time hearing the powered Audioengine A2s ($199/pair), I fell for their appreciative sense of space and tone-full textures. Whether it was Andrea Bocelli or No Doubt, the Audioengines pumped the music with power and yet treated it with respect.
The highly interactive Woo Audio room opened their doors to anyone who could pick up a set of headphones. Here a young audiophile listens to a new Woo headphone amp prototype, the GES MkII. Compared to the original GES, the Mk.II has a “wider voltage swing for greater speed and dynamic range.” It will be available for approximately $3500.
Woo Audio was SM's favorite listening experience at the show. Read more here
The intriguing sonics and gorgeous décor of Gideon Schwartz’s Audio Arts room were easily noticed by anyone who entered. Just in front of me, a little boy took pictures with his iPhone of the imposing yet luxurious Zellaton Studio Reference One loudspeakers ($52,750/pair). Schwartz’s room, the Chairman’s Office as indicated by New York Palace signs, used to be the office for hotel inheritor and tyrant manager Leona Helmsley. Dusty multi-colored hard-bound books lined the dark mahogany shelves next to daintily painted ceramic pots centered by the wonderfully symmetrical American-crafted Audio Strata racks.
This year, the surprising lack of SRV (and overabundance of easy listening) made me glad to hear his perennial cover of “Little Wing” through Sony’s new and more “affordable” SS-NA2ES floorstanding loudspeakers ($10,000/pair) through Pass Labs amplification. Last year’s system impressed me thoroughly, striking a balance between romance and detail. This year’s system favored speed and attack accenting flourishes I had never heard before in SRV’s Hendrix cover but sounding a bit cool on “Breaking Silence” by Janice Ian.