The New York Audio Show: Day One

There are shows that raise our expectations and there are shows from which greatness is not expected. And after October 26, when the organizers of the New York Audio Show, taking place at the Rye Hilton in Westchester County this weekend, announced that they were capping the number of exhibitors at 30—imagine Mike Huckabee or Hillary Clinton announcing a limit on corporate donations—this event slipped into the latter. No amount of positive, industry-healthy attitude on the part of myself or anyone else can shiny that up.

Nor was the situation aided by promotional e-mails lecturing us on how quick and easy it would be to get to the Rye Brook, New York show from Manhattan's "Central Station," or how much more difficult it is to travel from Denver International Airport to the Rocky Mountain Audio Fest—the latter a successful and popular show that's sponsored by a competitor to the New York show's Chester Group. Neither the late Victoria Regina nor I were impressed.

And yet . . .

The Rye Town Hilton is proving to be a pleasant if mildly inaccessible venue. It is surrounded by woods, and most of the windows in most of the rooms offer lovely views.

And there is indeed some good sound (and good technology, new and old) on hand. I wasn't surprised that the New York City-based headphone manufacturer Master & Dynamic was on hand, ably represented by Andrew Gretchko and Mary Martin, And their very new MW 60 'phones ($549) sounded good fine when driven, via their built-in Bluetooth connectivity, by my very own iPhone. (Perversely or not, I was in the mood to hear the Beatles' "Revolution 9"—on long drives, I sometimes entertain my wife by whistling its fragmented themes—and it was explicitly, pleasantly clear.) Incidentally, M&D claims that, at approximately 120', the MW 60s' Bluetooth range is four times that of comparable devices.)

As much as I enjoyed the above, even finer personal listening was to be had at the booth of North Edison, New Jersey dealer Care Audio, where Audeze LCD-XC ($1800) and HiFiMan HE1000 ($2999) headphones were being demonstrated. The former offered a good balance between richness and realistic crispness on XTC's "Dear Madam Barnum," while the latter sounded truly grand while driven by the 1W MicroZOTL output transformer-less headphone amplifier ($1100 with standard power supply).

David Berning, the designer of the MicroZOTL, has now handed over manufacturing to Washington D.C.'s Linear Tube Audio, whose Mark Schneider suggested that other, higher powered (and thus loudspeaker-friendly) MicroZOTL amplifiers are on their way, including one with EL 34 output tubes. You know how I perk up when I hear someone say "EL 34."

You may also know how I perk up whenever I see a Thorens TD 124 turntable—even my own, or my daughter's! So it was at the booth of a new manufacturer called Little Fwend, an Oslo, Norway-based company whose nominal product is a well-designed and beautifully machined automatic tonearm lifter, intended for use with such manual arms as the Thomas Schick model on display here. The prototypes on display worked exceptionally smoothly and reliably, and the price of the Little Fwend—available in three different sizes—is projected to be $200. (See

The Chicago-based dealer Tweak Studio was on hand with a variety of products, including the latest digital source components from Metronome, of Toulouse, France—now distributed in the US by Rep-Presents of Columbus, Ohio. I was especially intrigued by their new CD8 S ($10,000), described as a DAC with a built-in transport. (Distinctions between such a thing and a plain old CD player were lost, at least for now, on the travel-addled me.) I was so taken by the CD8 S's styling and apparently high build quality that I requested a sample for review, which has been promised.

At the same table, Arnold Martinez of Tweak Studio brandished the new Burmester 113 DAC ($6500), which offers 24-bit/192kHz performance and Bluetooth connectivity. Yes, that's a picture of a tooth on its front panel; yes, you can guess the color of that light that illumines it when the 113 detects an incoming wireless datastream.

Audio reviewers are famous for hemming and hawing and their way through life, but let there be no doubt: Madison Fielding makes the very finest Planter Speakers I have ever heard, bar none. Shown here is their Piermont model ($6000/pair), which really did sound fine! I give Madison Fielding credit for their entertaining and very cordial demonstrations—the young woman running the system was personable and well-informed, to an extent that many an industry vet could take lessons from her—and they played real music (Heartless Bastards being an especially fine example) instead of audiophile recordings.

For myself and my colleagues Michael Lavorgna of (left) and Steve Guttenberg of CNET (center), Friday ended on a positive note, as we answered questions put to us by a roomful of distinctly friendly, engaged readers. (Thanks to Ken Micallef for taking this pic.) I've done scores of such events at other show, but this audience may have been the best. Not a bad day, after all—and now I'm looking forward to Day Two.

Allen Fant's picture

Nice pics! AD.

it is good to read about Metronome getting U.S. representation.
I can hardly await to read your review on the CD8.

jelabarre's picture

> Rye Hilton in Westchester County

Otherwise known as the "Escher Hilton" in the science-fiction community (

Art Dudley's picture

>> Rye Hilton in Westchester County

>Otherwise known as the "Escher Hilton" in the science-fiction community (

That is too cool! (And, yes, the layout of the place is very screwy.) Thanks for the link!