The New York Audio Show: Saturday Part One

We make our beginnings in the manner of our endings; so it was on Saturday morning, when I headed back to the Rye Brook Hilton's Maple Room, where Friday evening Michael Lavorgna, Steve Guttenberg, and I had spun ripping yarns of shipping labels and galley proofs on the high seas of audio reviewing. (Yarr.) I was there to hear a presentation called Great Sound: Beyond the Gear: Life and Technology: A Compromise—a title with more colons than a lower-GI specialist sees in a week!—by an audio engineer/designer/producer/acoustical consultant named Stuart Allyn. I was running a minute or two late, and when I opened the door to the Maple Room I saw: a capacity crowd. Wow!

And that set the tone for the rest of the day: It would not be an overstatement to say the show was packed. Among exhibitors, the anxious glances and worried half-smiles of Friday had given way to great good cheer, and never once did I walk into an empty room—which is quite the thing to say about a show. But still I wondered: Where were all these people coming from? I asked some of the folks I saw, and got the same answer about three-quarters of the time: New Jersey. The people of New Jersey came up the parkway and across the Tappan Zee and saved this show's bacon! (And although I did meet some interesting young manufacturers from right there in Westchester County, I didn't meet a single show attendee from there. Go figure.)

I made a polite exit from Stuart Allyn's talk and hit the hustings, my first stop being a room labeled Alexus Audio/Bache Audio. It was to be the only bummer of the day—not that the sound was bad, but the man running the dem had zero interest in speaking with me. I politely asked, "So Alexus Audio makes the electronics and Bache Audio makes the speakers?" That won me a nod. The day, like life itself, was short, so I snapped a pic and left: one less egg to fry.

I had a much friendlier reception in the first of two rooms sponsored by Adirondack Audio, a newish retailer based just two and a half hours from me, in Queensbury, New York, just north of Saratoga Springs. (And, come to find out, they're in the process of opening a satellite store in Manhattan.) These folks were drawing big crowds with a system that combined the usual high-end strengths—openness, wide bandwidth, excellent stereo imaging—with a sense of touch and impact that was above average, and that was used to good advantage of the LP of Neil Young's Le Noise.

Stars of the system were the Kaitaki line preamp ($6250), Koru phono preamp ($3900), Tiki digital processor ($4775), and SA-Reference power amp ($20,900) all from Plinius, plus the very attractive floorstanding Signature Alpha loudspeakers ($10,000/pair) from the French manufacturer Triangle. The analog source was built around the Kubrick turntable ($4000 without arm) from Soulines, a new company based in Serbia.

Also in the Adirondack room, on static display, was the Soulines Dostoyevsky ($2400 without arm), whose birch-ply plinth and novel dustcover snagged my eye.

An all-blues program was served-up in Adirondack Audio's other room, which featured an all-Technics system—including the remarkable SB-C700 stand-mounted loudspeaker ($1699/pair) that Herb Reichert recently reviewed for our January 2016 issue. (Spoiler alert: It seems the very recommendable KEF LS50 has a new competitor.) The sound in the room had exception touch and nuance, presented in a very open soundfield.

From there I made my way to the room sponsored by Gershman Acoustics, Lamm Engineering, and Oracle Audio Technologies, where the music sounded detailed and clear, but with a little more (realistic) color and body than the high-end audio norm: a pleasant revelation. The loudspeakers were the Gershman Grande Avant Gardes; unfortunately, the room was too crowded with listeners for me to interrupt Ofra Gershman with questions about pricing—or, for that matter, about the details of the Lamm electronics and Oracle source—so I'll add those details as soon as possible.

When I returned to her room, Ofra Gershman told me the Grande Avant Garde loudspeakers are $13,000/pair, and that the partnering components were the Oracle CD Player ($7000) and Lamm M1.2 monoblocks ($27,190/pair), with a Lamm LL2.1 preamp, and Nordost cables.

At the room sponsored by Westchester County's own The SoundSmith, I learned that the New York show marked the debut of their new Zephyr MIMC phono cartridge ($1499), so named because the output of this moving-iron (MI) cartridge is tailored phono-preamp inputs that are designed for moving-coil (MC) pickups. Indeed, the cartridge's designer, the reliably entertaining Peter Ledermann, played the Zephyr through SoundSmith's own MCP-2 phono preamp ($999), which offers continuously variable loading, ranging from 10 to 5k ohms, and 63dB of gain. The sound was impressive—scads of detail, presented with smoothness and color—through the small but perfectly formed SoundSmith Dragonfly loudspeakers.

Linseed oil: I love the smell of linseed oil! And that's what greeted me when I visited the room sponsored by another brand new Westchester County manufacturer, Madera Handcrafted LLC. Madera specializes in single-driver loudspeakers and one of the most beautiful new turntables I've seen, the Anchor (price to be determined). The latter's copper-topped plinth is crafted from eco-friendly bamboo, finished with natural linseed oil and beeswax.

Madera's loudspeakers are built from ¾" Baltic-birch plywood, clad either in similar thicknesses of bamboo or such locally sourced woods as walnut, cherry, and maple. Seen here in the foreground is the Beacon ($3500/pair and up), available with a 4", 6", or 8" driver, loaded by a transmission line.

Allen Fant's picture

Another round of great pics! AD.
in the 1st pic that gentleman favors a younger Al Pacino.

Mertman's picture

I went into this room which was called a Bummer (Alexus Audio & Bache speakers) and nothing could be MORE DISTANCE FROM THE TRUTH!!! This group of guys are very new to the audio world and wouldn't know Art Dudley or John Atkinson if they were 3” from theIr noses, What they really do know is Electrical Engineering! If I were to tell you they should have best new designer of the year. They employed the Russian Military grade 833 tube with a 300B in their Mono Blocks. Their speaker had one of the most open and dynamic sound in the show. At one time listeners start to clap their hand after they used their turntable playing Diana Krall. These speaker I was told had two active amps and two crossover to make the best of the low end and somehow used a wide range speaker and a mid rang speaker without any cancelation effect.I DONT KNOW HOW THEY DIDN IT BUT, THEY PACKED THE ROOM AND MADE ME ENVIOUS OF NOT HAVING THEIR EQUIPMENT IN MY HOME. You should get this equipment into the best of hi end Dealers before they realize they have under priced this equipment. I know that one manufacture charges $140,000 for a similar design using the 833 tube and speakers that cost about $80,000 and have a monstrous foot print. they are charging a fraction of the prices

John Atkinson's picture
Please do not refer to this show as a "Stereophile show." There is no connection between the New York York Audio Show and Stereophile magazine.

John Atkinson
Editor, Stereophile

Mertman's picture

How do you expect someone to know who you are if you don't introduce yourself. I think the two of you should get together and start a knew: i.e. Hi my name is Art Dudley from Stereophile Magazine and I am sure the guy running the room would answer any question you ask. The two of you have to get together and start all over. You both need to do this because the only ones your hurting is the stereophile Magizines readership!

Art Dudley's picture

The beginning of Mr. Mertman's post - "I went into this room . . ." - implies that he has no connection with either of the companies concerned: I accept that. But his implication that I criticized the system in that room is incorrect. Again: I went into the room, I photographed the system, I was unable to get information on the system, I didn't have time to dink around (I was the only Stereophile writer covering the show), I moved on. My name was on my press badge in inch-tall letters, and - unbeknownst to me at the time - I learned after the show that the person running the dem knows me from Facebook. At least one of the manufacturers whose gear was playing in that room states on his website that he worked for 15 years at Sound by Singer: hardly a newcomer. The private messages and e-mails I have received on this matter, most of which change to all caps about three-quarters of the way in and sound as if they were written by the same person, are progressing through the Kubler-Ross stages of grief and have now entered the anger phase - and I am here to tell you, that does not enhance the appeal of giving these brands more attention: I don't intend to pursue this further.