Renowned journalist (and owner of originally Wilson speakers and now Audio Note speakers) Carl Bernstein (left) and reviewer/set-up specialist Michael Trei, seen browsing the 18th floor during the show's first evening.
The combination of Wilson Audio loudspeakers, VTL amplifiers, and Peter McGrath's digital recordingsand setup skillshas provided some of the finest music I've heard at literally every show I've attended in the past several years, and this show was no exception. The Wilson Sasha W/Ps ($27,900/pair) were installed along the long wall of one of Innovative's two rooms at the Waldorf=Astoria, and were driven by the VTL MB450 Series III amplifiers ($18,000/pair) and VTL 7.5 Series III preamp ($20,000), all hooked up with Transparent cables. The sound was colorful, dynamic, and tactilestring bounce was especially fineon all selections played, especially a high-resolution excerpt from Carmen that McGrath recorded in Miami not long ago, converted to analog with a dCS Puccini DAC ($18,000).
After too long an absence, Harry Weisfeld brought VPI turntables and tonearms to a show in New York, alongside his son and business-partner-to-be Matthew Weisfeld. Here we see Harry with the stunning VPI Classic 4, sized for outsized or even multiple tonearms ($10,000).
Some of the nicest analog playback I heard at the show came courtesy of GTT Audio, in whose suite the reliably well-dressed Philip O'Hanlon spun vinyl on a Brinkmann Balance turntable ($24,000, closest to camera) with Brinkmann 12.1 tonearm ($7500) and an Air Tight PC1 Supreme cartridge ($15,000). Of special delight were selections from Ray LaMontagne's God Willin' & the Creek Don't Rise and advance pressings from the forthcoming LP reissue series, by Analogue Productions, of the Doors catalog. The rest of the system featured YG's Anat III Professional Signature speakers ($119,000/pair) driven by Soulution 501 monoblocks ($55,000/pair), a Soulution 750 phono stage ($25,000), Soulution 720 preamp ($45,000), all wired with Kubala-Sosna Elation cables.
Driving the distinctive Scaena "iso-linear array" loudspeakers in the Audio Doctor suite was a pair of Conrad-Johnson's limited-edition ART amplifiers ($37,000/pair): one of 125 pairs in existence. These ARTs used KT-120 output tubes (the amps are rated at 275Wpc when run with 6550 pentodes) and were operated without their strikingly pretty tube cages.
There were no new Abbingdon Music Research products at this show, but distributor Darren Censullo was in attendance at the Audio Doctor suite, where he spoke with excitement about a forthcoming AMR product called the iDac: a USB-friendly converter scheduled to sell for just $350.
German amplifier specialists AVM have been in business since 1986, but until now have served only the European market. The company's new owner, Udo Besser, who was with Burmester for many years, has decided to broaden their target and is now exporting their high-end electronics line to the US. Of the products on display at the New York Audio and AV show, I was especially intrigued by the AVM C8: an all-in one package that combines a 150Wpc stereo integrated amp with a phono stage, FM tuner, USB and SPDIF D/A converter, and a (hermetically sealed!) CD drive. The styling is elegant and spare, and the projected price is $4200.
I remember being impressed when I looked inside my low-impedance Miyabi 47 phono cartridge and counted approximately 14 turns of wire per channel on its coil former. Haniwa has now produced a cartridge with an even lower number of turns per channeltwo!for an internal impedance of just 0.8 ohms. Nevertheless, Haniwa has used various materials and construction techniques to maintain a quite reasonable output of 0.35mV. The Haniwa HCTR01 cartridge, which is also a notably high-compliance design, is available for $12,000. Michael Fremer reviewed it in his November 2011 “Analog Corner” column.