Music Hall’s Roy Hall was excited about his new a15.3 integrated amplifier and matching c-dac15.3 CD player/DAC combo. Just as any good integrated amplifier should, the 50Wpc a15.3 includes a headphone output, front-panel mini-jack input, moving-magnet phono stage, and remote control. The one-box c-dac15.3 combines a three-input (optical, coax, USB-B) Wolfson DAC section with a CD player, itself based around a Burr-Brown 24-bit/192kHz-capable DAC. Build quality seemed excellent. Each unit will sell for $549. Music Hall just keeps churning out interesting, affordable products. I’ll look forward to learning more about these units later this year.
Because I know Wes Bender and E.A.R.’s Dan Meinwald are always open to new sounds, I took the opportunity in the Wes Bender Studio room to play the title cut from Aidan Baker’s latest release, Already Drowning.
Coincident Speaker Technology and NYC dealer Audio Loft demonstrated a system made of Coincident’s Pure Reference Extreme loudspeakers ($26,800/pair) driven by Coincident’s 75W Dragon 211PP monoblocks ($10,999/pair), Statement Line Stage ($5499), and Statement Phono ($5999). Source was a VPI Classic 4 ($8000) with a beautiful rosewood base and HR-X 12.7 tonearm mounted with a Dynavector DRT XV-1t cartridge. Cables were Coincident’s own, and the gear was supported by a Steve Blinn Designs Monarch equipment rack.
Dupuy Acoustique, a brand relatively new to me, gave an effective demonstration of its Daisy Reflector ($995; patent pending), first seen at SSI in Montreala “phase-restoration device,” whose internal cabinetry and foam have been computer-modeled and CNC-machined for optimal performance.
I got to hear KEF’s X300A powered desktop speaker ($800/pair) when I visited the company late last year. Now the system has found its way to the States. KEF's animated brand ambassador, Johan Coorg, gave a characteristically colorful demo.
The X300A uses KEF's Uni-Q point-source driver array and places twin class-A/B amplifiers and a high-quality toroidal transformer in each cabinet. Further, each speaker has an internal 24-bit/96kHz asynchronous DAC. The signal flows not through standard speaker wire, but via a "digital inter-speaker connection," or USB link. According to Coorg, this is to ensure that high-quality sound is carried through the entire signal chain.
While there were many exciting cost-no-object systems on display, the New York Audio Show was also home to refreshingly small and simple systems that nevertheless offered exceptional performance.
KEF’s beautiful LS50 loudspeakers ($1500/pair) were partnered with Audio Electronics’ Constellation tube preamp ($1495), Hercules power amp ($1895), and Lightning DAC ($1295). Wireworld provided the cabling. The music, which came from a laptop, sounded forceful, dynamic, colorful, and present.
If I could have taken home any system from the New York Audio Show, it would have been this one.
A second, smaller Innovative Audio room held a system made of Wilson Audio’s Sasha W/P loudspeakers ($27,900/pair); Lamm M1.2 Reference hybrid monoblocks ($24, 190/pair); VTL TL-7.5 Series III Reference preamplifier ($20,000) and TP-6.5 Signature phono preamp ($10,500 with moving-coil step-up transformer); Spiral Groove SG2 turntable ($21,000, with Centroid tonearm) and Lyra Kleos MC cartridge ($3000); Transparent cables, power conditioning, and AC cords; and Finite Element Pagode racks and supports.
From left: Dan D’Agostino, Vince Galbo of MSB, and Peter McGrath of Wilson Audio Specialties.
In association with Innovative Audio, these gentleman put together a high-performance system made of Wilson Alexia loudspeakers ($48,500/pair); D’Agostino Momentum monoblocks ($55,000/pair) and Ultra-Analog preamplifier ($32,000 with power base); MSB Diamond DAC IV Plus ($27,995) with FemtoSecond Galaxy Clock ($4995), Diamond Stepped Attenuator ($2995), USB2 Signature 384kHz input option ($1395), Pro IS input option ($995), Diamond ($5995) and Signature ($4995) power bases, and Platinum Data CD IV disc player ($3995); and Transparent Reference XL speaker cables ($13,160/pair), balanced interconnects ($9270/pair), and digital interconnects ($3195 each). Power conditioning was also from Transparent, while the equipment was supported by Finite Element Pagode racks.
Bob Sattinthe Bob in Bob’s Devicesintroduced his new Step-Up Transformer/VPI Interface Box ($1650), “specially created to improve the performance of a VPI turntable when used with a low-output moving-coil cartridge.”
“To limit yourself to just vinyl,” says Audioarts’ Gideon Schwartz, “would be ridiculous.”
It’s not that Schwartz doesn’t like vinylseveral LPs were scattered about the beautiful demo room, said to have been the office of Leona Helmsleybut he simply believes that a good system should work well with all music formats, and more, should sound good in many different rooms.