Jason Hits the Floors on Day 3

Self to self: It's looking like a good day, with seven hours sleep and only 14 more rooms to cover between 10 and 4. Let's see, if I eat Chinese delivery leftovers in the room for breakfast, and return to home base to consume a protein bar and apple for lunch to save additional time, that will leave a whole 5 hours for going room-to-room. Hey, that's 20 minutes per room, with a little bit to spare for navigation. Piece of cake.

First stop, a return to the High End Zone/Perfect8 Technologies room on the 2nd floor. I couldn't cover this exhibit on opening day because the visually striking Perfect8 Technologies Point Mk.III loudspeakers ($125,000/pair), a point-source dipole design with Symmetrical Radiation house in propriety "super silent glass," got trashed—badly trashed—in transit, and their replacements did not arrive in time. Plaudits to New Mexico-based retailer, the High End Zone, and to Perfect8 for pulling things back together in record time.

Perseverance, in this case, was well worth it. Reproduction of a file of the Haydn Cello Concerto 1 exhibited lots of grace, with an airy, spacious, and warm sound that I found especially satisfying. I didn't write down the name of the track playing when I first entered the room, but it, too, was distinguished lovely warmth, notable spaciousness, and that indefinable quality known as grace. Timbres were extremely impressive.

When I followed a suggestion to move to the second row, both midrange and bass response increased. Especially impressive was a 24/96 track of mezzo Jamie Barton singing Sibelius, where the system conveyed the huge expanse and changing dynamics of her stunning voice better than any other system I've encountered. When Barton opened her one-in-a-million, Golden Age voice to full capacity, you could literally hear it expand in the room. Wonderful.

The Perfect8 speakers were connected to Ypsilon Electronics' Aelius II hybrid monoblocks ($39,000/pair), tubed DAC 100 ($29,000), and PST 100 MKII combo valve/transformer preamp ($37,00) via Perfect 8 silver/cotton custom cabling and WireWorld Silver Electra 7 power cords. Two Aurender music servers, the W20 ($17,600) and A10 ($5500), completed a chain whose components get two thumbs up. It is no wonder that two of the Ypsilon products have received Class A ratings in Stereophile's recommended components.

Wireworld's "Audio Cable Polygraph 2.0" 20-minute demos were the nightmare of every confirmed cable sceptic. "Character changes can be quite large between cables due to a loss of transient response and consequent phase anomalies in the upper midrange," said David Salz, President of Wireworld. "Since the goal of a cable is to let all the music through without changing or losing anything, we conduct objective tests using mono amplifiers to gauge accuracy of musical presentation."

That word "objective" must get them bad. While my guitar gently weeps, so they say.

Wireworld now has three different levels of Ethernet cables, and has developed an entirely new Pro line. "Our goal is to harmonize our consumer and professional lines," said company sales coordinator, Larry Smith. "One of our criteria is improving cable flexibility without compromising sound." We who have experienced heavy cables literally pulling equipment off supports and shelves will certainly appreciate this effort.

The company is also looking for new materials to replace Teflon and other insulation material whose production involves highly toxic compounds. In addition, their concern for their environment has led them to pledge that for every Platinum level cable Wireworld sells, a tree will be planted.

"The star is our loudspeaker, whose drivers we make of wood," Holger Adler of Voxativ explained. While the main Voxativ Zeth (more or less pronounced "tzate") loudspeakers with AC-4X wideband driver ($16,900/pair) covered 100Hz–20kHz, the crossover in the active Voxativ Z bass woofer extensions ($7590/pair) enabled it to cover the lower 20Hz–120Hz via built-in 500W class-D amplifiers.

A recording from the Cecile Verny Quartet sounded very clear, albeit a bit shouty in one place. Another recording delivered up believeable sounds of cymbals without totally cohering. ("A lot of interesting elements," I wrote in my notes, "but they're somehow not forming a coherent whole. I don't totally get it."

A recording of a German-speaking, neo-soul singer had too much of a hard edge on the voice, and was further compromised by some bass booming. Finally, on a Stockfish Voices CD of Steve Strauss, the striking sense of depth around his voice was compromised by a lack of evenness between registers. The entire experience was puzzling, since my previous exposure to Voxativ loudspeakers at multiple shows had been so positive.

Also heard: totaldac D1 music server ($5000), totaldac D1 tube DAC ($10,000), Lyric Audio Ti100 Mk.II single-ended, class-A, integrated tube amp ($7400), Voxativ Ampeggio cabling, Synergistic Research PowerCell 8 power conditioner ($3000), and, for added depth and a whole lot more, the Synergistic Atmosphere ($2000). A Gregiteck StabTower equipment stand ($3290) provided essential support.

In the Highend-electronics room, which showcased Artos Audio Mirage Extended loudspeakers ($47,990/pair) connected to the eye-catching Audio Valve Baldur single-ended, class-A 300Wpc tubed monoblocks ($23,900/pair) and Audio Valve Conductor tubed preamp ($15,990), I discovered that Joy Denalane was the African-German neo-soul/jazz/and more singer I had heard in the Voxativ room performing "Geh Jetzt." This recording is a must-hear trip, and far more authentic-sounding than the ludicrous Spanish-language covers of Beatles songs I heard in Cuba a mere 47.5 years ago.

While the system responded very fast, with lots of snap, highs seemed unnaturally bright and glassy. Since it turns out that distributor Alfred Kainz shared Denalane's track and others with his friend, Voxativ's Holger Adler, I can't help but wonder if some of the problems I heard on both systems were source-related. Did they lie with the chosen files, with the same totaldac digital front end as heard in the Voxativ room, or with the other equipment? All I know for certain is that on Anne-Sophie Mutter's recording of the Korngold Violin Concerto, with André Previn conducting the not-so-shabby Vienna Philharmonic, Mutter's violin sounded as edgy as Denalane's voice. Although it could sound sweet at times, the violin lacked intrinsic warmth, and its timbre was off.

Eoldschool's picture

A small inaccuracy if I may: You stated that: "As for New Mexico-based retailer, the High End Zone, they seem to have been trashed as well, because all mention of them was absent from the LAAS show guide".
This is inaccurate. High End Zone is listed in the Show Guide in the alphabetical list and on the maps for the first and second floors. I see no "trashing" or slight of them or any other exhibitor. I'm thinking perhaps the reason they were not listed among the exhibitors in the back of the show guide could be because they did not submit any info perhaps? Even the very popular and beloved Elac was not listed in that section of the guide perhaps for the same reason?
Just something I noticed in this article and wanted to make you aware since I was at show and have a guide.

Jason Victor Serinus's picture

I looked for them three times and couldn't find them, but I only looked in the back of the guide. Your explanation brings it all together. Thank you for the correction. I shall try to change the copy.

High End Zone's picture

Dear Eoldschool, I cannot speak for Elac, also a wonderful speaker company which we are a dealer for, but I know that High End Zone DID submit the company information for the back of the show guide and in fact we received confirmation that it had been received by the wonderful LAAS Staff before the deadline. We're very prompt about such things just as we are in taking care of our clients. You are correct that some info did appear in other parts of the guide, but the main listing was left out.

Upon seeing we were left out of the detailed company listings in the guide as Jason correctly stated Marine Presson confirmed to us that we had submitted everything on time and stated she had no explanation why we were left out.

Again I cannot say if the same fate befell Elac, but perhaps it did. It's a shame that we missed out on the opportunity to have our information in front of the thousands of wonderful audiophiles who attended the show. I hope those who are interested will Google us and find our website and get in touch.

Eoldschool's picture

That is unfortunate. I was making an educated guess as to the reason for the omission. From what you stated it sounds like it could be a printing service error, who knows?
As you say though, these days folks who were taken with interest they will Google and Google they do!

High End Zone's picture

Dear Jason, thank you so much for coming back down Sunday to hear our system when there were no speakers for you to hear on Friday. It means a lot to us. We know how busy you guys are with so many great rooms to cover.

One small correction from me, it was actually the $375,000 Perfect8 Force MkII loudspeakers that were crushed by the freight carrier. With only 50 hours before the show opened there was no way to get another pair of Forces but Perfect8 very graciously offered to overnight a pair of the Points. Next year I hope we'll be able to show the new version of the big ones and that you'll come and have a listen with us!

bilguana's picture

I could find no coverage of Elac's Andante AF-61 floorstanding loudspeakers, for which I'm a dealer. They were amazing and powered by Audio Alchemy electronics.

John Atkinson's picture
bilguana wrote:
I could find no coverage of Elac's Andante AF-61 floorstanding loudspeakers, for which I'm a dealer.

We will be posting a separate video interview with Andrew Jone discussing the Adante speaker in the next day or so.

John Atkinson
Editor, Stereophile