Robert Stein of Ultra Systems (and of the innovative retail outlet The Cable Company) introduced an accessory called the WA Quantum Chip. Available in different sizes, ranging in price from $7.50 to $65 each, the German-made WA Chip is a removable sticker that contains an impregnated film, which is reportedly subjected to a special treatment. Sized for everything from fuses to cell phones to speakers, WA Chips are claimed to increase component efficiency and current flow, for audibly enhanced performance.
Robin Wyatt of Robyatt Audio did something that hadn't been done at a major audio show in decades: He demonstrated with a pair of Quad ESL loudspeakerscreating, in the process, the sort of sound that led my weak and easily led brain to conclude that I was hearing the best sound of the show within my first hour of attendance. The ESLs, which had been restored by Quad expert Wayne Picquet (also in "Listening" columns passim), were driven by a pair of Miyajima OTL 2010 amplifiers ($10,000 each), which provide 22Wpc when used as monoblocks with their defeatable feedback circuits enabled. Wiring was by Tel Wire. The preamp was a one-off custom unit by fellow upstate New Yorker Charles King, and the sound, apart from the fact that the Quads made a little too much bass (!) for the squarish room, was glorious.
Here's the Vinyl Cleaner ($3895), a new type of LP washing machine made in Germany by Audio Desk Systeme Glass (they make a popular CD edge-trimmer you've no doubt seen) and distributed in the US by Ultra Systems. Described by Robert Stein as "the only way you can really clean the bottom of a record groove," the Vinyl Cleaner uses ultrasonic waves to separate dirt and vinyl from one another, and dries the disc with a fan instead of a vacuum (the latter induces static, according to the designer). Watch for Michael Fremer's review in an upcoming episode of "Analog Corner."
My first attempt to enter the room at the NY Audio & AV Show where Liberty Trading was selling vinyl and CDs proved fruitless: There were simply too many people lined up to buy records (which included a number of recent Mobile Fidelity LP titles). Nabil Akhrass, seen here behind the counter, would surely question my use of the words too many.
The record player used in the Robyatt suite was the Anatase (price available upon request) from Oswalds Mill Audio: an original Lenco motor unit updated with a custom-made bearing and idler wheel assembly, and wedded to a massive slate plinth. The primary arm was the excellent Thomas Schick Tonearm ($1675), used with various Miyajima cartridges.
The phono-transformer speciality company Bob's Devices (see "Listening" columns passim) was also represented by Ultra Systems. Of the three models seen here, one had already been treated with the above-mentioned WA Quantum Chips.
The New York Audio and AV show (wait a minute: Doesn’t the A in AV already stand for Audio?) takes place at the famed Waldorf=Astoria from 3:00pm to 8:00pm today, from 10:00am to 6:00pm Saturday, and from 10:00am to 5:00pm on Sunday). Yesterday I was weary from traveling (I arrived here by train from Philadelphia), so it wasn’t until this morning that I noticed the carpet pattern outside the door of my room: a William Morris-style bunny. I’m clearly in the right place.
The sound of the Stenheim Alumine loudspeakerits openness, transparency, and freedom from temporal distortions, not to mention its good bass extension for such a small enclosurereminded me at once of my favorite small loudspeaker from the late 1980s, the Acoustic Energy AE1. On reflection, the comparison is extraordinary: The two products are as different as night and day, the AE1 being a wooden loudspeaker with a metal-cone woofer, the Alumine a metal loudspeaker with a pulp-cone woofer. I suppose one can skin a catfish by moving the knife or by moving the fish.