I am a big fan of the hi-rez audio files made available by Lessloss, so one of the first rooms I visited at the NY Audio Show was theirs. The system featured a pair of Kaiser Kawero Vivace floorstanding speakers from Germany, which combine a custom-made Mundorf AMT tweeter with ScanSpeak Illuminator midrange unit and rear-facing woofers. With the source Lessloss's new Laminar Streamer, which plays audio files from SD cards, and Pass Labs amplifiers, the sound in this room was delicate and full-bodied, though perhaps too sweet overall.
Belgian manufacturer Venture, whose products are distributed in the US by Precision Audio & Video, was demming its new Vici 2.1 loudspeaker ($36,000/pair), driven by Venture V200A+ MOSGET monoblocks ($120,000/pair), a Venture VP100L preamp ($35,100), and reinforced below 60Hz by a pair of Venture AW500 active woofers ($12,000 each), which each use two 10" drivers. Front-end was the XX High End music player running on a Windows laptop feeding a Weiss Medea FireWire DAC ($21,799). Cables were all Grand Reference Diamond and Diamond Signature.
The first room I visited at the NY Audio Show was one of the best-sounding. The third of three rooms displaying brands sold by Manhattan retailer Sound by Singerclick here and here for our reports on the other twoit featured the world premier of Danish Manufacturer Raidho's D2 loudspeaker ($43,500/pair in black, $48,000/pair in gold walnut). The D2 combines the ribbon tweeter used in Raidho's well-regarded D1 minimonitor with two 4.5" woofers that use a diamond-coated cones.
I bought a Slim Devices Squeezebox network player in the spring of 2006 and my life changed. Having audio files on a server and being able to play them through my high-end rig via the Squeezebox's S/PDIF output liberated my music from the tyranny of a physical medium. As I wrote in my review, "physical discs seem so 20th century!" After Wes Phillips reviewed the Squeezebox's big brother, the Transporter, in February 2007, I bought the review sample and lived happily ever after in the world of bits rather than atomsat least until the summer of 2010, when Slim Devices' new owner, Logitech, brought out the Squeezebox Touch. The Touch did everything the Transporter did, with a full-color display, at one-eighth the price!
It was the strangest thing. In the fall of 2008 I was comparing Ayre Acoustics' then-new KX-R line preamplifier with no preamplifier at allI was feeding the power amplifier directly with the output of the Logitech Transporter D/A processor. (Levels were matched for the comparisons, of course, made possible by the fact that the Transporter has a digital-domain volume control.) Being a rational being, I knew that the active circuitry of a preamplifier, as well as the extra socketry and cables, would be less transparent to the audio signal than a single piece of wire. I wanted to determine by how much the Ayre preamp fell short of that standard.
We are saddened to learn that Franco Serblin, founder of Italian loudspeaker manufacturer Sonus Faber, passed away on Easter Sunday, March 31, at 73. Larry Greenhill interviewed Franco Serblin in June 1992 for Stereophile. We will add more details as they become available.
It was announced Friday March 29 that guitar manufacturer Gibson was to buy a majority stake in Japanese company TEAC, which manufactures audio components sold under the TEAC, Tascam, and Esoteric brandnames. From the press release: "Gibson has entered into an agreement, signed today, with Phoenix Capital in which two investment funds operated by Phoenix Capital have agreed to sell to Gibson all the shares they own in TEAC Corporation, or 157,447,000 shares, (54.4% of the issued and outstanding shares), at a price agreed between the parties of 31 JPY per share. . ."
In the second Kyomi Audio room, E.A.R. USA's Dan Meinwald was doing an effective dem of the Marten Django XL speakers ($15,000/pair) that Erick Lichte favorably reviewed in September 2012. He used a prototype CAT tube amplifier, a CAT SL1 Renaissance tube preamplifier, and an Esoteric K-1 DAC with standalone clock fed audio data from Amarra. Cabling appeared to be all Magnan. With the Swedish speakers set up firing along the room's diagonal, low-frequency room modes were tamed and vocal music blossomed, whether it was Peggy Lee singing "Fever," Paul McCartney singing a demo of "Mother Nature's Son," or Neil Young live from Massey Hall.
Verity's US distributor John Quick (right) shows the Amadis speakers, with Brian Wasserman
Back in 2009 I recorded classical pianist George Vatchnadze for a live-vs-recorded dem. As well as being a superb classical pianist and teacherhe teaches piano at Chicago's DePaul UniversityGeorge has a parallel life as an audio retailer. His company, Kyomi Audio, had two 8th-floor rooms at AXPONA, featuring Verity Amadis speakers ($30,000/pair) driven by CAT amplification and hooked up with the huge and expensive helium-filled Stealth cables. Sources were either an Acoustic Signature turntable fitted with a Funk Firm arm and Colibri cartridge, or an Esoteric transport feeding data to a prototype non-oversampling D/A processor from Stealth, this featuring the AD1865 DAC chip.
Peachtree's room was typical at AXPONA, packed with an enthusiastic crowd of listeners enjoying the music all weekend. The Peachtree Nova125 that Sam Tellig reviewed in January ($1499) was being demmed with the MartinLogan Montis speakers that Robert Deutsch reviewed in September 2012 ($9995/pair). The speakers were certainly not let down by the inexpensive amplifier"The Nova125 will handle any source, any speakers," proclaimed Peachtree's Jonathan Derda (below)who played me Rickie Lee Jones on LP on a Pro-Ject turntable with Phono Box dual-mono phono preamp, the sax-and-bass duet on Sting's "Standing on the Moon, from a Turtle Records hi-rez file, and even a luminous-sounding MP3 streamed from Spotify.