Best Sound in Show?

Did Koetsu USA's room have the best sound at the show? It's hard to tell. Since my goal was to cover every single room at Axpona without playing slam, bam, thank you ma'am, I intentionally skipped set-ups John intended to cover. Those included some of the big players: YG Acoustics/Krell, Acapella/Einstein, the huge Legacy speakers, Belles/Advanced, and Mark Waldrep's huge, powerful AIX surround set-up with its five Thiel CS3.7s, two Thiel subs, four or more Boulder amps, DH Labs cabling, and Oppo player. Unfortunately, I also skipped the Ayon Audio exhibit, which I thought John was covering because it shared a room with Legacy.

Regardless, after that massive disclaimer, I loved the sound in Hiram Toro's Koetsu USA room. When I entered, a show attendee was playing Brubeck's Classic "Take 5." "Wonderful," I wrote in my notes. Ideal slam, captivating colors the whole bit. I followed with one of my frequently referenced orchestral assaults, the beginning of Mahler's Symphony No. 2 on my R2D4 Channel Classics hybrid SACD conducted by Ivan Fischer. The sound was full, rich, vibrant, and incredibly powerful. Space around instruments was inviting without being gimmicky, and high volume cymbal crashes never hurt the ears. Yes, the sound was euphonic, and perhaps smoothed out a bit on top. But it was so delicious—equally so when I returned briefly on the last day—that I did not want to leave.

Dominating the room were two sets of speakers new to me. I heard the Rosso Fiorentino Volterra ($11,950/pair), a most attractive Italian 2-1/2–way low floorstander designed by Francesco Rubenni (pictured). Boasting a range of 38 Hz–100kHz with its optional "ultrasonic generator" (a Murata supertweeter), the Rosse speaker offers a 6 ohm nominal impedance and an 87dB sensitivity. The bottom 8" woofer is sealed, and the mid 6.5" woofer is vented. To be unveiled at the end of March at the Munich show is the larger Siena, which will boast a frequency response of 25Hz–100kHz. I can't wait until it makes it to the USA.

Making this baby very happy was the Goldenote 75Wpc Demidoff Silver Plus Integrated amp with silver point to point wiring ($14,900, and apologies for any misspellings due to Hiram's handwriting); Goldenote Pamphili phono preamp ($3325), BlackNote CDP 300 CD player with tube ($4150), Montegiro Legno "High-End in Wood" turntable ($13,568), and all-important Koetsu Azule Platinum cartridge ($10,000). Note that this system sounded equally good on LP (Brubeck) and CD (Mahler), which says a lot for the tube CD player, integrated amp, and speakers.

Jose Sevilla's picture

Best sound in show????? didn't you hear any female voices played through this system???? they were too high and out of control, with some notes it felt like somebody was trying to pierce your inner ear.The system from "The voice that is " had a way better behaviour in this particular area and in some other areas to.

Jason Victor Serinus's picture

Thank you, Jose. Even though my first love is classical vocals, I didn't play any of my favorite sopranos in this room. I also carry lower female voices, specifically Rosa Passos and Marta Gomez, but didn't get to them either. Had there been more than 24 hours in the day, I'm sure I would have indulged.While noting that strings, horns, and other instruments with high overtones did not sound out of control to these ears, I regret that I can neither confirm nor deny your experience. It would be interesting to learn if their were set-up changes between the time you visited and my first visit to the room. I didn't get there until Saturday.

Jason Victor Serinus's picture

Did I really write "their"? Mea culpa. I meant "there".

John Foley's picture

This room got my vote for best sound in show. I did think the volume was, on the whole, set to high and occasionally, fortissimo passages and powerful transients came accross too loud. But, even in those instances, I never got the feeling anything was "out of control," which is another reason I was impressed with the system. The natural timbres and incredible extension were amazing. This system reproduced the piano in such a convincing, beautiful way I ended up spending more time in this room than any other.

Gabe's picture

I too thought this was one of the best sounding rooms of the show (Along with Puccini/Tidal and Mark Waldrep's setup). Unfortunately I did not hear any female vocals played through it but the vinyl of Harry Belafonte at Carnegie hall was absolutely breathtaking. (And I am not a vinyl guy). Obviously, being vinyl, there were limitations in the possible frequencies being reproduced. (Lows limited by groove size and angle of incidence and highs by the typical analog limitations that brought in the digital era about thirty years ago, and which reached maturity about fifteen years ago. But I digress.)Judging only on the material I heard there: Great, great sound!Congratulations!Gabe.

Jason Victor Serinus's picture

Last night (March 11), I sat in the sixth row orchestra center in SF's Davies Symphony Hall for MTT's performance of Mahler's Symphony No. 2.The week before, I played a recording of a different orchestra performing the same music in this room and a number of others at Axpona. Of the rooms I visited - again, I skipped rooms John was covering - this is one of the few whose sound and timbre came closest to the live experience.

Aston Wright's picture

This room was on my short list for best of show. Though it got beaten out by the Advanced Transduction / Belles room, I felt they still surpassed all others in harmonic detail and texturing. Tones were lush and silky smooth.

Jose Sevilla's picture

I was at this particular room in three different opportunities, in which the first two I had the same impression that you guys had(musical instrument sounded incredible good) but it wasn't until my last visit that all the previous magic had crashed (they were playing a female singer)and i walked out of the room filled with disappointment; now I know I shouldn't let my emotion take over and instead of walked out , I should have stayed and try to figurate it out what went wrong.

Jason Victor Serinus's picture

Hypotheses include an absolutely lousy CD