As familiar as I may be with the Playback Designs/Evolution Acoustics set-ups that Blue Light Audio's Jonathan Tinn brings to showsone of these, with darTZeel electronics and much bigger Evolution Acoustics loudspeakers, received my Best of Show at T.H.E. Show Las Vegas a few years backI constantly find myself amazed by the quality of the sound. This time, with Playback Design's MPS-3 DSD-capable high-resolution CD player with USB input ($8500); an Ampex ATR-102 open-reel recorder, restored by ATR Services, Inc of York, PA, playing 15ips master tapes sourced from ATR and Puget Sound Studios; and B.M.C. Audio's AMP CS2 integrated stereo amplifier ($8400) driving Evolution Acoustics' MMMicroOne 2-way monitor loudspeakers with stands ($2500/pair), the sound of a Shelby Lynne demo safety copy of her new album, provided by ATR Services, blew me away with its solid bass, powerful slam, and great depth. True, there was a bit of an edge on Lynne's voice, but it may have been room-induced, and sure didn't stop me from writing "OMG" in my notes.
It was nearing the end of the day of the first day of the show, and I hadn't covered nearly enough exhibits to ensure blogs for every room on floors 4 and 5, plus a number of others that I had agreed to cover. That, I figured, was why I found myself increasingly breathless as I ran from room to room, listening to less and less music before jotting down a few notes and heading out the door.
Then I entered the Coincident Speaker Technology room, heard some gorgeous music, and realized the underlying reason for my near-frantic pace.
When I entered Vienna Acoustics' room, their new Beethoven Baby Grand Symphony Edition (SE) ($4,500/pair), set to ship in November, was playing everything but Beethoven. Thanks to Boulder Electronics' 865 integrated amplifier ($12,500) and 1021 CD/Net DAC ($26,000), the latter streaming music from a Macbook Pro; IsoTek's Sigmas power mains filter network ($3,000); and Analysis Plus Silver Opal cabling, Jack McDuff's tenor sax filled the room with lovely, warm sound. The untreated room was not the kindest to the speaker's bass response, but everything above sounded great.
I don't know if it's a case of careful component and/or cable matchingWilson Audio, after all, favors VTL electronics and Transparent Cabling, and Spectral always dems with its own, MIT-manufactured cablingor just better engineering, but my experience of Teresonic single-driver loudspeakers has shifted dramatically for the better over the years.
Whisky, music, and chatter were all flowing, not necessarily in that order of priority, in the Music Hall room. Actual order of importance was determined by the visitors, of whom there were plenty, with a little boost from the high-proof atmosphere. Nonetheless, amidst a din too intense for serious listening, and preparations for the evening's dance party in the hotel Atrium that Music Hall was co-sponsoring with Chicago's Tweak Studio, Roy Hall and Leland Leard were managing to give complete and cogent raps about the equipment playing through the din.
Get a grip, Serinus. The equipment may have been ringed with Christmas lights, but it was October in the Denver Marriott Tech Center, not December in the Chapel of the Blessed Virgin. Nor does Nhan Huang of Angel City Audio resemble Western conceptions of Mary's immaculate offspring. Be that as it may, or as some of my harshest critics may wish it weren'tjump to it, JohnnyRthe Melody Pure Black 101 preamp ($499), Melody M845 monoblock amplifiers ($5899/presumably for the pair), Onix CD-50 $3699), Angel City Audio P2000 power conditioner ($4499), and MG Audio interconnects and speaker cable were delivering bright and incisive sound on two unidentified jazz tracks.
Mike Hopkins of Aperion Audio has reason to smile. The Aperion Verus Grand ($1798/pair), a three-way tower loudspeaker with a frequency response of 45Hz22kHz, 6 ohms impedance, and 92dB sensitivity, was being fed by a Marantz SA 1153 SACD player and PM 1153 integrated amplifier via Straight Wire cabling, and delivering a very nice, complete presentation of Belinda Carlisle's cover of "Hallelujah."
At the center of SVS loudspeaker demo were its prototype, hand-built Ultra Series Ultra Towers ($1999/pair), with a rated response of 28Hz22kHz (±3dB). Due November 20, the speaker's trapezoidal cabinet, which has no parallel lines, was blasting raucous, sinfully compressed, ridiculously tipped up rock courtesy of Classé's CA-2300 amplifier and CP-800 preamp. Once the energy shifted, I enjoyed the lovely touch of sanity delivered by cellist Antonio Lysy (from Antonio Lysy At the Broad on Yarlung Records playing Piazzola's "Oblivion" on a fabulous CD that is also available in hi-res download format from Linn. And when the Ultra Series is released, it will also include the SVS Ultra Bookshelf ($999/pair), SVS Ultra Center ($699), and SVS Ultra Surround ($1199/pair).
What more can be said about Audioengine's flagship self-powered loudspeakers, the A5 ($399/pair) and A2 ($199/pair), than has already been said? We currently use the bigger babies for sound on an antiquated TV in my husband's man cave, aka "the cottage," and they're astounding for the price. The speakers were showing off thanks to several prototype Audioengine products that are still in the development stage.
There was so much going on in the George Warren Precision Sound room that, once I finished snapping photos, it was hard to focus on the music. Nonetheless, it was clear that the George Warren turntable ($4200$4850, depending upon finish) with its MØrch DP-8 tonearm (around $5000, available in gold or silver) were what this system was all about.