Sony Electronics launched their new SS-AR2 loudspeaker ($20,000/pair), seen here with the X600.5 mono amplifiers from Pass Labs. The SS-AR2 is a three-way, four-driver floorstander that’s crafted from select Japanese maple laminate (the front baffle) and Finnish birch plywood (the remainder of the cabinet). Twin aluminum-cone woofers are said to extend bass response down to 42Hz.
Bill Leebens, who serves as Vice President of the Chester Groupthe organization that produced the New York Audio and AV Showdid a hell of a job getting this thing off the ground, alongside the Chester Group’s Roy Bird, Justin Bird, and Scott Humphrey, not to mention the enduringly beloved publicist Lucette Nicoll and T.H.E. Show's Richard Beers. Leebens, seen here in one of the Waldorf's intimate little rooms, is an audio industry stalwart whom I’ve known for years yet never actually met!
At the Audio Arts suite I was enchanted by the sound of my favorite 1960s-era folk trio (although I confess that that wasn't the Corries, whose debut album is seen here in the hands of Audio Arts proprietor Gideon Schwartz). "Tiny Sparrow" and other selections from the cannily titled Peter, Paul & Mary album Moving sounded colorful and clear on a system comprising the Holborne Analog 2 turntable ($5275), Holborne Analog 2 tonearm ($3475), Holborne MC1 cartridge ($1975), David Berning ZOTL preamp with phono stage ($12,300), David Berning ZH230 mono amplifiers ($18,400/pair), and the very interesting Zellaton Concert loudspeakers ($59,750/pair), the drive-units of whicheven the tweeterare all descended from the Pawel laminated metal-foil cone woofer.
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.
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.
In the Audio Note UK room, managing director Peter Qvortrup demonstrated the company’s new Jinro Shochu power amplifier ($32,250). This is essentially a Jinro integrated amp (see Stereophile’s April 2011 issue) without the volume control and with a single pair of true balanced inputs. During my visit the combination of Jinro Shochu and Audio Note AN-E Lexus Signature loudspeakers ($19,000/pair) sounded natural, engaging, and just plain musical on selections by those two great exponents of British music, Vaughan Williams and Led Zeppelin.
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.
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.
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).