Simaudio, Dynaudio, and more

I spent a lot of time trying to get a handle on the sound in the "Ambassador System" room, one of four rooms sponsored by distributor Musical Surroundings and Chicago retailer Quintessence Audio. My very brief taste of vinyl was warm and inviting when sourced from Clearaudio's Innovation Wood turntable and Stradivari V2 MC cartridge ($18,750 total). Sharing the analog honors were Simaudio's Moon 810LP phono stage ($12,000), whose performance was upgraded by the new Moon 820S external power supply ($8000, pictured below) that can simultaneously power two Simaudio components. The units that can take advantage of the 820S currently number five: the 740P preamp, 650D and 750D DAC/CD transports, and 610LP and 810LP phono preamplifiers.

Also doing a wonderful job were Simaudio's two-chassis 850P line stage ($30,000) and 880M monoblocks ($45,000/pair), Dynaudio Evidence Platinum loudspeakers ($85,000/pair), Harmonic Resolution Systems SXR rack and amp stands, and Kubala-Sosna Emotion cabling.

But since my focus was digital rather than analog, we quickly switched sources to Simaudio's Moon 180 MiND (Moon intelligent Network Device) Network player ($1300, not pictured). The midrange sounded beautiful on everything we listened to, but the top was a little crisp for my taste. On a Red Book track by Fleetwood Mac, for example, I marveled at the huge layered soundstage, layered presentation, and full-range sound that went from deep, slightly powdery bass to crisp highs. Another track by The Doors in 24/96 reinforced my experience of a tremendous soundstage, superb midrange, moderately edgy highs, and powdery bass.

It's not what I had expected from equipment I've not previously experienced as bright. So, a day later, I returned to the room. After further listens to Daft Punk's "Get Lucky" and a track from Jennifer Warnes' Famous Blue Raincoat, both of which conveyed the true beauty of the system's midrange, I had a talk with Simaudio's Lionel Goodfield about possible room interactions. Lionel explained that they had found the 12' high ceilinged room impossibly bright and prone to major echo. After many hours of experimentation, they opted for really thick black drapes, an unusual firing angle for the speakers, and ASC Tube Traps to tone things down on top. But despite everything they did, I'm afraid they couldn't totally come to term with the room.

As you'll read from several discussions of room sound in subsequent stories from AXPONA, it's clear that when exhibitors return to the Westin O'Hare next year on the last weekend of April, they'll be better prepared to address the room anomalies that are peculiar to every show I've attended in a hotel environment.

audiocaptain's picture

Anything has to be easier to tame than the rooms Stereophile sold me for two seperate shows. One was in a giant ballroom with a pipe and drape separating the next exhibit with no ceiling or other walls to make an enclosure and the next show they sold me a room with plastic dividers no ceiling and no door with the freight company as a neighbor. 

Sometimes even when you make the best effort it is impossible to know what the results will be when all is setup and tested although some rooms, or should I say spaces, obviously should never be used.

Glotz's picture

... to an all-important brick and mortar retailer.  Tough rooms are a reality, but shiiiit, put the blame on the room, not them.  ('I'm afraid...')

It sounds assanine to suggest this, but I think Stereophile has some kind of obligation, as itself, to defend sponsors through vigorous explanation of the conditions these sponsors have to contend with, to achieve good or great sound. I've heard my share of crappy hotel demo rooms in Chicago.

I've purchased before with their competitors in Chicago area, but I deserve it to Quintessence to visit the next time I'm in Chicago.  Companies that care this much to communicate the truth- matter. 

I feel that the critical nature of this hobby's journalism sometimes diminishes the need to have it survive and flourish. 

Elvis1's picture

We get only 24 hrs before the show opening to uncrate, hook up, tune/tweak, & let the system warm up. We do not get to ever hear anything in that room till the first moment we power up. Then the mad rush to make it sound right, and still have the room accessible to guests. People spend years tweaking their own systems in their own homes. I believe we did excellent based on those constraints and I thank you for understanding and appreciating what we had to go through. (Setting up in 4 Quintessence rooms)

Dave W

P.S. I was in the Ambassador Room.

Jason Victor Serinus's picture

Thank you, Dave. I am grateful that you understand how I'm striving to be fair to all parties here. My goal is to tell it like it is without condemning anyone.

When I would set up for Bay Area Audiophile Society events in my living room, I tried whenever possible to allow at least two days for equipment to settle in. And that was in a room I knew very, very well, and had spent a lot of time tweaking.

AXPONA, on the other hand, has moved from location to location since its inception, and can only allow one day for set-up. The good news is, with this year's experiences under the industry's collective belt, as it were, and the show returning to the Westin O'Hare next year, savvy exhibitors will be better prepared to cope with an environment that, when all is said and done, is no more or less user friendly that virtually any other hotel environment on Planet Earth.  

Pro-Audio-Tech's picture

The rooms were bad that is a fact. No sugar coating it.