Innovative Innovative Audio

Innovative's Elliot Fishkin (center) flanked by Wilson Audio Specialties' Peter McGrath (left) and VTL's Luke Manley (right).

As we reported below, Manhattan retailers Lyric and Stereo Exchange decided not to participate in the New York Audio & AV Show, instead holding standalone events at their stores. There are valid reasons for this decision, not the least of which is that the manufacturers are spared the crapshoot of setting up their systems in rooms with unknowable acoustics. By contrast, every dem room at a retailer is, or should be, an optimized machine for making audio components sound at their best, which surely is the point. However, if every retailer decided to do this, there would be insufficient support for the main show to take place. There would thus be no shows at all, an example of what has been called the "Tragedy of the Commons."

Props, therefore, to Innovative Audio, who both participated in the NY Audio & AV Show with passive and active rooms, but who also invited Showgoers to their premises after the Show closed Friday and Saturday evenings to take a listen under more controlled conditions.

Though Innovative had produced a good sound from Wilson Sasha W/Ps at the Waldorf=Astoria, the sound of the new Wilson Alexandria XLFs ($195,000/pair), driven by VTL Siegfried Mk.2 monoblocks, a VTL TL7.5 Mk.3 preamplifier, and a dCS digital front-end and set-up in the big room at the 58th Street store, was in a class of its own, I felt. In previous visits, I had felt this room to be overdamped, but it has been modified to make the sidewalls a little more reflective. In addition, the fact that new Alexandria offers the choice of having the big rectangular "Cross Load Firing" port that loads the twin Focal woofers to be open either at the speaker's front or back, allows the speaker's low-bass interaction with the room to be optimized.

The result was a sound with extraordinary scale, coupled with a transparent view into the soundstage and high frequencies from Wilson's new silk-dome tweeter that were silkier, smoother, and more natural-sounding than I experienced from the inverted titanium-dome tweeter used in the earlier Alexandria X2.