California Audio Show 2015: Day 2 Continued

I wish I could tell you about the Linn system in this room, but both times I tried to enter, Steven Lester was in the middle of a long rap. Lester's video components always provide some of the most fun and unexpected treats at a show, and usually result in packed rooms. That was certainly the case the first time I came by.

Grant Fidelity, PureAudioProject, and Mundorf won my Best Slap-Silly Dance Music of Any Show Award with Robin Thicke's "Blurred Lines." Believe me, it was no contest. It was also no contest between the two amps in the room, the rockin' Psvane TS845 SET Integrated 845 tube amp ($4500), which made me want to jump up from my seat, and the rolled off on top, soft on bottom Consonance Reference 5.5 SET 300B integrated tube amp ($3500). This, of course, was with PureAudioProject Trio15 Beyma Open Baffle speakers with Alu Frame ($4899/pair) rather than the Mundorf MA30 AMT bookshelf speakers ($2999/pair) that I didn't hear.

Speaking of which, shortly after I took a photo of the system, the famed Norbert Mundorf of Mundorf capacitors snapped one of me. He almost took a shot of me dancing, but I forced myself to stay seated, lest someone pull the fire alarm. Also heard: Apple MacBook Air sourcing music from an external HD, and Yulong Audio Sabre DA8II Ultra Low distortion 32-bit DAC ($1299).

Jim Suhre showed off the Laura ($1200/pair), a full-range speaker system, claimed flat from 55Hz–20kHz, with a low reach of 35Hz, that purportedly provides superb transient response independent of listening room acoustics. Together with an Oppo 103 and 60Wpc Parts Express amplifier ($100), the system had a really nice midrange, albeit, at least in this room, a surprisingly small image.

I wish I had words adequate to describe the cross-cultural knockout duo of speaker designer Bill Roberts' thick, fast-winded Southern drawl and veteran Big Band singer Shanda Lear-Baylor's (daughter of Bill Lear of Lear Jets) irresistible Borscht Belt /Broadway/LA delivery. I know the room was about the Advanced Transduction 96dB-sensitive loudspeakers (shown in unfinished form), which boast a claimed frequency range of 14Hz–27kHz and which, fed by a Melody AN 300B integrated amplifier, produced ultra-clear, ultra shiny sound with ample low bass.

But the real treat was not the sound of the mechanical equipment per se, but rather the chance to hear the God-given sound of Lear a mere 43 years after she first entered "the biz." As the unlikely duo of Roberts and Lear-Baylor prepare to release her forthcoming recording, My Many Colors, on vinyl—eight delicious tracks, or eight plus two bonus tracks via digital download—Lear-Baylor serenaded me with "Embraceable You" and, yes, "Bei Mir Bist du Schoen."

This was not only the most unique musical experience I've had at a show in many, many years, but it was also simply fabulous. Brava, Shanda, brava, and thanks to you both! What a perfect way to end my second day at CAS6.

Venere's picture

I was struggling with the concept of Shanda's "irresistible Borscht Belt/Broadway/LA delivery." Say what??? Then I found a couple videos online. Now I get it. Sort of.

Jason Victor Serinus's picture

Shanda is fabulous. It's more than just the voice, or the delivery, or the pizzazz. She breathes what show biz is all about.