Here shown in striking white, the F300 is a 3-way, two section ported loudspeaker whose two sections hold a total of four drivers. (The supertweeter is hidden in back.) The F300 boasts a frequency response of 25Hz40kHz and, with the right jumper cables between its two sections, an especially warm midrange. Special to this loudspeaker is its Heil Air Motion Transformer tweeter, which produces striking detail.
Gary Katayama of Affordable Audio constructed a system that allowed Randy Bankert's Sonist Concerto loudspeakers ($5895/pair) to show how much sound they can deliver. With apologies for my potentially flawed attempts at deciphering Gary's handwriting, I heard the Baetis Media Server ($2595) and Mach 2 Mac mini (approx. $1000) using Amarra 2.3, Human Audio Table USBS/PDIF converter ($1000), Bel Canto 3.5 USB DAC ($3500), Audion 300B amplifier ($5500), EAT E-Flat turntable ($6000), and Synergistic Tranquility Base ($1000). The soundstage was impressively big, and the sound warm but overly smooth, to the point of softening the leading edge on Lorraine Hunt Lieberson's glorious mezzo-soprano.
I have always greatly admired the match of Robert Lee's Acoustic Zen loudspeakersin this case the wonderful Crescendo loudspeaker ($16,000/pair), a 3-way transmission line design with a horn-loaded ribbon tweeterwith the Triode Corporation electronics imported by Santy Oropel of TWIN Audio Video. Here, the Crescendos formed an especially sonorous alliance with the TRV-CD5SE CD player ($3250), TRX-1 remote controlled tube preamplifier ($3200), and TRX-M845SE monoblock power amplifiers ($22,500/pair).
Everyone who knows Dan Meinwald of EAR USA looks forward to his exhibits, as much for their wonderful sound as for the opportunity to discover sometimes unusual, musically engrossing vinyl titles. This year was no exception. Once an attendee who was dominating the proceedings finally settled down, and Dan played a master tape-sourced file of Heifetz and Smith playing Beethoven's Kreutzer Sonata and a hi-rez copy of the Concierto de Aranjuez (I think), the room transformed from a showcase for a loudmouth into an island of warm sanity. It was luscious.
I fell in love with the adorable little system from Chris Sommovigo's The Signal Collection when I heard it play some of Todd Garfinkle's MA Recordings at AXPONA 2012 in Jacksonville. In Newport Beach the love affair continued.
Finally I had a chance to hear the loudspeakers lauded by Stereophile equipment reviewers, the Voxativ Ampeggio Signature by Schimmel ($32,500/pair). This single-driver, ultra-sensitive speaker headlined an excellent line-up from Alfred Kainz's highend-electronics, Inc. that led me to write in my notes, "Beautiful. Remarkably close to natural sound. The highs are wonderful, especially the cymbals."
This was the first time I've encountered ESS Labs at a show. Rico Caudillo, CEO, explained that after an eight-year cessation, the company returned to the scene maybe four years ago. Pictured here, left to right, are the imposing, all-dipole Transar ($19,000/pair) and smaller AMT Limited ($4495/pair).
Although a fair number of woman are now appearing audiophile shows, both as exhibitors and attendees, rare is the woman who attends without her partner/spouse/significant other. Meet Sheri Morgenroth, who founded the Houston Audio Society eight years ago. Currently an engineer by day, and married to a man who cares not about our hobby/passion/obsession, Sheri was fascinated by records at a very early age.
The title may have veiled what this seminar was about, but there were some light moments during the two-hour Friday afternoon session that discussed "what to listen to and for in music." Pictured (left to right) are Tony Weber, 40-year industry veteran and Regional Sales Manager for Cary Audio; Tim Brisson, formerly of MIT cables; Bruce Brisson, who engineered the first purposefully built audio cable in 1981, which was marketed by Monster Cable; Paul Stubblebine, for 34 years a mastering engineer; and Cookie Marenco, a five-time Grammy nominee who is founder and producer/engineer for audiophile label Blue Coast Records.
Using as his source a MacBook Pro playing iTunes/Pure Music, Dusty Vawter of Channel Islands was using his Transient MK II asynchronous USB converter ($699) with the VDC-5 Mk.II upgrade power supply ($399), PLC-1 Mk.II preamp ($899), D-500 Mk.II monoblock amplifiers ($5000/pair), and speaker prototypes that, perhaps a year from now, will yield Channel Islands loudspeakers. Playing a cover of "Sounds of Silence" on an Usher sampler, the sound was invitingly warm. The system also did a beautiful job of transmitting the natural sound of cymbals, which is no easy task.