ESS Labs

This was the first time I've encountered ESS Labs at a show. Rico Caudillo, CEO, explained that after an eight-year cessation, the company returned to the scene maybe four years ago. Pictured here, left to right, are the imposing, all-dipole Transar ($19,000/pair) and smaller AMT Limited ($4495/pair). (I apologize that the LD8 at $1800/pair didn't make it into the photo).

The Transar threw a huge, open, very high soundstage, among the most impressive I encountered in my first day in the Hilton's small rooms. Although distinctly wiry on voice, the instruments surrounding the voice had a beautiful, airy quality, and had a lovely warmth when pitched lower in the scale.