T.H.E. Show Newport 2015

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Jason Victor Serinus, Sasha Matson, Thomas J. Norton  |  Jun 03, 2015  |  3 comments
One of the most delightful annual surprises of the now departed Las Vegas installment of THE Show was stumbling upon the NFS (Not For Sale) room. Assembled by the distinguished personage known as Buddha, it allowed visitors to become submerged in a combination of post-psychedelic revelry, good sound, lots of free booze, and a total absence of hawking...
Jason Victor Serinus  |  Jun 03, 2015  |  0 comments
Resolving to get an early start, I skipped breakfast and hit the show floor at 10:30am on Sunday. Will Kline of Fine Sounds (left) and Sunil Merchant (right) of Covina, CA's Sunny's Components were justifiably proud of the simply beautiful midrange created by the marriage of Wilson Audio Alexia loudspeakers ($52,000/pair) and Audio Research components. This wasn't the most transparent of systems I auditioned, but it was unquestionably among the most musical.
Herb Reichert  |  Jun 03, 2015  |  4 comments
Photo: Jason Victor Serinus

During THE Show, the Woo Audio/M•A Recordings room became my restful oasis. I am an extreme fan of M•A Recordings and its most worldly proprietor, Todd Garfinkle (right above in Jason's photo). Todd makes perfect-sounding recordings of real in-the-world music. Not audiophile recordings of some faux chanteuse in clown makeup singing songs she doesn't understand for an audience that cares more about sonics than poetic expression. In contrast, Todd Garfinkle picks up gypsies in the Paris Metro and brings them home. He shares his best food and wine with them—and finally, when they are properly "prepared," he turns on his recorder and gets them to chant, shout and play wedding songs—with tubas, clarinets, trumpets, trombones, accordions, drums and fierce stomping boots!

Sasha Matson  |  Jun 03, 2015  |  7 comments
Sunday morning may be a time of rest for some people, but not at THE Show Newport 2015. I felt a bit like an earnest medic making my room rounds: "Morning, I'm Doctor Matson. And how is our stereo feeling today?" My first patient was doing just fine, and ready to be discharged. PBN Audio, out of San Diego, led by designer/owner Peter Bichel Noerbaek (above)...
Jason Victor Serinus  |  Jun 02, 2015  |  12 comments
If I were forced to spend a week alone on a desert island, with my only companions a small, battery-powered player and one person's music collection, I'd have a tough time setting between the libraries of Jeffrey Catalano (High Water Sound, in the room above), Philip O'Hanlon (On a Higher Note), and John DeVore (Devore Fidelity). While their musical predilections certainly vary, all have impeccable taste when it comes to repertoire and artistry...
Thomas J. Norton  |  Jun 02, 2015  |  0 comments
Headphonium, Earphonium, Canjam. Every audio show has its own name for a section set aside to serve headphone enthusiasts, an increasingly active audiophile sub-segment. The one at this year's Newport show was smaller than the one I recall at the Rocky Mountain Audio Fest show last fall. But among the newcomers were headphones from Mr. Speakers (like the $1499 planar designs shown here)...
Sasha Matson  |  Jun 01, 2015  |  21 comments
In the AudioQuest room I found my good friend and audio guru Joe Harley (Had to take a selfie of myself, left, and Joe—my original high-end guru—right.) Along with Garth Powell, brilliant current designer of recent AudioQuest hardware, I listened to another really fine system. Debuting at the show was the new AudioQuest Niagra 7000 Conditioner ($7000), which Joe Harley told me has changed his life. And when Joe tells me things about audio, I pay attention...
Sasha Matson  |  Jun 01, 2015  |  2 comments
My very full second day at THE Show Newport continued with some wonderful quality time and listening. Had a good visit with designer/owner Keith Herron (left), of appropriately named Herron Audio. This company is based in St. Louis, and Mr. Herron is particularly interested in the musical aspects of his gear, and stated to me that he felt musicians respond particularly well to it. Being a composer myself, I think he is spot-on.
Herb Reichert  |  Jun 01, 2015  |  4 comments
I am having my second morning coffee in the LAOCAS hospitality lounge and a man walks in and announces loudly, "I am officially blown away!" Everyone looks. Ok? So what did you hear? He stands there grinning. "Have you been to the Elac room?"
Jason Victor Serinus  |  Jun 01, 2015  |  3 comments
In the lobby of the Hotel Irvine, Meryl Jane was not only showing her paintings of famous audiophile-approved artists, but also extremely eager to have her picture snapped in their midst. By all laws known to God, human, and those strange outlaw beings known as Texans, opening day at an audio show is when systems, usually not fully dialed in, often sound sub par. Yet in Hotel Irvine, the most consistently fine sound I encountered was on Day One, in the extremely hard-to-tame cubic conference rooms on the lobby level...
Jason Victor Serinus  |  May 30, 2015  |  5 comments
The ribbon had been cut and the trumpets sounded. THE Show Newport Beach, whose 2015 installment had moved a mile or two up the road into Irvine, was underway. Doing the honors at the ribbon-cutting ceremony were, from left to right, a gold chain-bedecked Steve Rochlin of Enjoy the Music, accompanied by his wife, Heather to his left, and an unidentified woman to his right; Michael Fremer of Stereophile and AnalogPlanet.com; David Robinson of Positive Feedback, Robert Harley of The Absolute Sound.
Herb Reichert  |  May 30, 2015  |  1 comments
First morning of the first day, jet-lagged, don't recognize anybody, forgot every name and, worse still: I broke every rule I made for myself on the way to Newport Beach. Mostly, I have attended these shows as a distributor-exhibitor so I never forget how much it costs in money and psychic energy to do any show—let alone the whole US-World circuit. Many of these exhibitors just finished a big, wallet-crushing, jet-lagging show in Munich, and now they are here in California (how many miles and time zones is that?), still staggering and punch drunk from dancing on that big stage—trying to smile and impress everybody. So my kind and gentle spirit tells me to understand and try to comfort them...
Sasha Matson  |  May 30, 2015  |  1 comments
My beat for Stereophile—to attempt to share with you my brief take on equipment and systems that might be described as "Medium Budget"; not too cheap, not too pricey—just right! A daunting task, given the sheer amount of fine gear here that could fit into that budget ballpark. My first stop was late in the afternoon of the Thursday Press Day. I sought out familiar friendly faces in the Positive Feedback Online Hospitality Room. (Here is a photo of Positive Feedback editors David Robinson, right, and Dave Clark, left.) This is fast becoming sort of the audio equivalent of the Grateful Dead's long strange trip.
Thomas J. Norton  |  May 30, 2015  |  3 comments
When longtime TAD/Pioneer speaker designer Andrew Jones moved on to design new speakers for German manufacturer ELAC, we expected big things, though not quite immediately. Speaker design takes time. But Jones and ELAC made a big splash at the Newport show with the new line of Debut speakers. The first model ready for demo was the baby of the Debut family, the B5. It's shown here with proud papa Andrew, with its 5.25" aramid-fiber woofer and 1" cloth-dome tweeter, and is expected to retail for $230/pair in early fall when the entire lineup should be available...
Jason Victor Serinus  |  May 29, 2015  |  10 comments
Six weeks before the start of THE Show Newport Beach, word got out that the show organizers were poised to add a last-minute "Trade and Press Day" for Thursday May 28. As it turned out, the actual announcement came later, less than a month before the show. The idea, if instituted correctly, could have been a good one. But done so last minute, it seemed, at best, half-cocked...Be that as it may, I was able to register with the lovely Lucette Nicoll (above center) and take in just a few rooms before dinnertime.

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