Daniel Hertz and Mark Levinson's Major Statement

When I entered the Daniel Hertz room, close to a full house was sitting at attention as someone was giving a spiel about room correction. As I wrote in my notes, "I don't know what's going on, but the choir is overloading and the sound is too warm."

Said person, whom I only later learned, after I left the room, was Mark Levinson, then announced that he wanted to show off the system's dynamic range. "Any sound known to man this system can reproduce," or something very close to that, he declared as he proceeded to play sounds created by Norah Jones. My notes: "Norah Jones is smearing with too much midrange."

At that point, not wishing to be held captive at the expense of so many other exhibitors, and taking my cue from the warning that some people could not handle the volume levels we were about to hear, I left the room. Followed into the hallway by Mark's PR representative Barry Willis, I learned from Barry that I had heard the M8 loudspeakers ($4499/pair) and M9 integrated amp ($2499). Together, they comprise the "Baby Daniel Reference System." Offering direct USB DAC and Apple AirPlay for wireless music-making, it will be available in Apple stores this spring, a major coup for the brand.

Shaking the wall behind me were the big M1 loudspeakers ($120,000/pair) powered by four monoblock M5 L power amps, a Daniel Hertz M6 L preamp with inboard USB DAC, and all needed cabling ($190,000 total). Daniel Hertz loudspeakers are made in the Petrof piano factory near Prague, and the electronics are made in Switzerland.

It seems I may also have heard the Daniel Hertz "Master Class" app ($660), which the PR touts as "the ultimate music player software for Apple computers... [a] revolutionary development in quality audio [that] lets any music lover take average sounding CDs or downloads and turn them into audiophile recordings." "Master Class," I was told "combines the EQ of the legendary Cello Audio Palette with 'A+,' a new technology for enhancing the transparency of PCM digital audio. With 'Master Class,' most music CDs and downloads can be made to sound and feel like analog or pure Direct Stream Digital (DSD)." 100 sets were available for purchase at T.H.E. Show.

Et Quelle's picture

The ground quake from the realistic thunderous bass. I told another showgower that it sounded like we were inside the drums! Of course the speaker were priced at "don't ask".

tmsorosk's picture

Don't know what it is about the M1's but I've been dreaming about owning a pair from the first time I saw them .

mark levinson's picture

Hi Jason,

I appreciate your coming to the Daniel Hertz room at T.H.E. Show 2014. The room was always packed, sorry I did not recognize you, I had recordings to play for you that are more to your taste. We were introducing the M1 system which offers, for the first time, high efficiency and natural sound together. In order to understand the demonstration, it is advisable to hear a sequence of recordings of music from the most delicate to most dynamic.  

You say you did not know who was making the demo. There were 12 signs that said so from the elevators to our room. 

We showed two systems. The M1 system (just under $200,000) is the reference system that generates the large dynamic range. The new M8 speaker and M9 integrated amplifier (coming in 3-4 months) will sell for $7,000. We also introduced Master Class (audio software for Mac) which would be of great interest to you if you have a chance to hear what it does and what you (yourself) can do with it.

You incorrectly mention my using a Norah Jones recording to demonstrate dynamic range - we always played "I Don't Miss You At All" very softly, as is the intent of the artist for that touching and introspective piece. For dynamic range, we played a recording of very large Chinese drums from the album "Poems of Thunder" - a recording more or less unplayable at high volume levels by any high end audio system due to the low efficiency of typical speakers. We also played a Tower of Power track called "Diggin' on James Brown."  A top recording engineer came to see us and confirmed that Daniel Hertz M1's play accurately at full bore studio levels.  Such dynamics can be shocking to those who do not expect them.

As you know, a conference room at the Flamingo Hotel in Las Vegas is never going to offer great acoustics for a wide dynamic range music system (100dB/1W/8 Ohms) with 126dB SPL capability across the entire audio band - and all the more so if you are sitting at the rear of the room. Next time, please say hello and get a better seat! Nevertheless, overall it was a great show for us, and many visitors said "best sound at the show." Richard Beers, producer of T.H.E. Show, did a super job helping everyone have the best possible time, and we are happy to have been a part of it.



Jason Victor Serinus's picture

Hi Mark,

It's been a zoo. Since completing show coverage, I've written a review of an Audra McDonald concert, attended a concert performance of a rare Rossini opera, conducted Skype interviews with Tord Gustavsen and Gerald Finley (both are coming to the Bay Area soon to perform), and taken a family visit with the three dogs to the largest off-leash dog park in the U.S. I can first respond now.

I speak the truth about not knowing what was going on or who was talking when I entered the room in the middle of your presentation. Not only did I not see the multiple signs about the exhibit - I suppose, when I have so many rooms to cover in so little time, I unconsciously put on blinders until I'm in a room and discover what's around me -  I choose to take 'em as they come, in order of appearance, rather than say "So and so are my favorites so I'll be sure to cover them in my limited time - but I also didn't have the Daniel Hertz pre-show press release in my consciousness when I entered your room.

Even if I had known it was you, I would not have disrupted your presentation to say hello, or considered displacing someone for a "better seat." I'm glad you didn't see me, if you even know what I look like, and single me out. 

Apologies about the Norah Jones error.  Thanks for correcting it.

I look forward to the opportunity to sample your software.


mark levinson's picture

Hi Jason,

I appreciate your reply and know how overwhelming these audio events are, especially CES and T.H.E. Show in Las Vegas. 

Every time I introduce major audio innovation, there is often misperception, especially at the beginning. If we had time in a quiet room together, you would no doubt have a different impression of what Daniel Hertz has to offer. As a real music lover, you will understand the significance of what we are doing when you experience it properly. You are used to listening within a certain window of parameters and assumptions. Daniel Hertz goes beyond them, but it is not ideal to first encounter this in the conditions of a public show where too many variables come into play and you are under such pressure. 

I understand that you were not seeking special treatment, but it is a pity that, in the rush of the event, with so much to cover, you jumped to conclusions about DH that, with a better audition, would have been quite different. Your readers depend on you to be accurate, and when you talk about me using Norah Jones' "I Don't Miss You At All" to demonstrate dynamic range, clearly someting is not right. Those who took the time to find out what we are doing, including jouranlists, dealers, distributors, studio professionals and customers from around the world, came to far different conclusions and recognized the significance of what they heard. I am sure you would too, under less pressured circumstances. In any case, I appreciate your visit to the DH room at T.H.E. Show, and your kind and thoughtful reply to my comments. 





corrective_unconscious's picture

I look at the two visible, large drivers in those and think again how certain manufacturers are never shy about their pricing, piano factory or no.

(Anyone else remember the $1000 (?) box and/or software to make mp3 files sound as good as CD...?)

tbassny's picture

....up front to get our popcorn ready the next time this happens.