NY Audio & AV 2012

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Ariel Bitran  |  Apr 19, 2012  |  9 comments
Prior to the onset of the Chester Group’s New York Audio & AV Show, there had been some controversy in regards to big-time local dealers Stereo Exchange and Lyric hosting their own events the weekend of the show. These events brought in big brands such as Totem, McIntosh, B&W, and Audio Research, who would be presenting exclusively at their stores. Would these dealer events keep participants away from the New York Audio & AV Show? How would these coinciding events affect one another? Were these signs that the show organizers had not done the work necessary to motivate exhibitors to participate in the New York show?

Ariel Bitran  |  Apr 18, 2012  |  First Published: Apr 19, 2012  |  1 comments
Long lines flooded out of the MBL room on the 18th Floor of the Waldorf=Astoria all weekend long, so I arrived at 9:30am on Sunday morning to see if I could get a good listen to the MBL system by myself. Upon arrival, MBL North America’s representative, Jeremy Bryan, was still setting up his smaller speakers, the mbl 120 Radialstrahler ($21,400/pair, without stands) along with their mbl C21 stereo power amplifier ($9200), mbl C11 preamplifier ($8,800), and mbl C31 CD player ($9,200), all members of their Corona line of electronics.

I sat to the side of the room while Bryan finished his set-up, centered in his listening position, tilting his head back and forth. After the first ten seconds of four to five different demo tracks, Jeremy blurted, “Alright! I think we’re set. Come sit down.”

John Atkinson  |  Apr 18, 2012  |  First Published: Apr 19, 2012  |  0 comments
The MBL room was the last room I visited at the NY Audio & AV Show. I sat down in the sweet spot, on the couch midway between the MBL 101E Mk.2 "radialstrahler" speakers, each driven by a 9011 monoblock; Jeremy Bryan cued up a hi-rez file of Peter Gabriel singing "Wallflower," from his New Blood album; and OMG. This was true virtual reality! Then Jeremy explained what he had to do to tame the room's acoustics—see Ariel Bitran's blog following this one. All I can say is that it was worth the effort!
John Atkinson  |  Apr 18, 2012  |  0 comments
The "Beyond Frontiers" refers to the fact that the company's designer was responsible for some of the well-respected Sonic Frontiers products from a decade ago. This is the Beyond Frontiers tubed balanced D/A processor, which was being used as the source in the LessLoss room.
Ariel Bitran  |  Apr 17, 2012  |  First Published: Apr 18, 2012  |  1 comments
The open and relaxed feel of the orchestral music immediately impressed me upon entry to the Wes Bender Studio room. One showgoer played his demo track of Thus Spoke Zarathustra by Richard Strauss, and immediately again, I was overwhelmed by the size these speakers could create yet how relaxed the remained. Music flowed from their pores (and drivers).

John Atkinson  |  Apr 18, 2012  |  0 comments
The "Ask the Editors" sessions at the NY Audio & AV Show attracted enthusiastic, informed, and engaged audiences.
Ariel Bitran  |  Apr 18, 2012  |  2 comments
From an email’s distance, Jeff Catalano and his dealership High Water Sound seemed an enigmatic business in my mind, selling esoteric hi-fi from a downtown NYC loft. So, I was a little intimidated to visit his room, but to my surprise, Catalano is as non-elusive as you can get, beaming with joy about hi-fi and music and even wearing a Triumph shirt(!), the true sign of an everyman. He tells me he is committed to selling gear that brings the most emotion out the music.

Stephen Mejias  |  Apr 17, 2012  |  First Published: Apr 18, 2012  |  0 comments
With a sly smile and a little wink, Bill Leebens suggested that I check out Amber Rubarth’s Saturday afternoon set. “She’s stunning,” he said, or something like that. When Bill makes a suggestion, it’s a good idea to follow it, so there I was at 4pm, listening as Rubarth joked that she can only write when she’s sad, and then made us all smile as she sang about happiness and love.
John Atkinson  |  Apr 18, 2012  |  3 comments
As well as providing the sound for the seminar room, which was where a recorded music concert, titled "Euphoria at the Waldorf," was presented Friday and Saturday evenings, The Tweak Studio's exhibit room also featured components from the premium German manufacturer Burmester: a pair of 380 Mk.2 speakers driven by a 911 power amplifier and an 088 preamp. Source was a Walker turntable and arm fitted with a Soundsmith Sussuro Hyperion cartridge. There was much to admire in this system's reproduction of Louis Armstrong singing "St. James Infirmary," but as was the case with so many of the rooms at the Waldorf, the presentation was marred by over-ripe room acoustics.
Ariel Bitran  |  Apr 16, 2012  |  First Published: Apr 18, 2012  |  0 comments
I got to know Steve, head of VAS Audio over in New Jersey, after he picked up the Cayin SP-10a that Bob Reina reviewed in our April 2012 issue from the Stereophile Manhattan office. Steve invited me to the back of the VPI/VAS Audio Room to share a cocktail and a cookie where we discussed the hi-fi show business and our audiophile neighbors in Brooklyn and New Jersey. Steve's original home, in Bay Ridge, Brooklyn, places him in close proximity to some Stereophile staff, past and present, and his co-exhibitor VPI, led by the Weisfeld family, lives next door to him in Jersey. Hi-fi, like cookies, is more fun when shared with neighbors.
John Atkinson  |  Apr 18, 2012  |  0 comments
I had visited the Legacy room at the NY Show hoping to hear the Whisper XD, which had been one of my best sounds at the 2010 Axpona Show. Though I have auditioned this speaker at other shows since then, they had never been set up in rooms that did them justice. However, when I visited the Legacy room, the relatively affordable Focus SE speakers ($8750–$9250/pair, depending on finish), set up at the other end of the room from the Whispers, were playing. Driven by Ayon tube amplification, this speaker, which combines a 1" Kapton ribbon tweeter with a 3" Kapton-ribbon midrange unit, two Rohacell-reinforced graphite-cone woofers, and two 12" aluminum-cone subwoofers sounded pleasant enough, but the listening conditions were not sufficiently ideal for me to make a more confident judgment of the speaker's quality.
Ariel Bitran  |  Apr 17, 2012  |  First Published: Apr 18, 2012  |  0 comments
The Sony SS-AR2 loudspeakers, described here by JA, were one of my many favorites at the show. Their soundstage extended deep, all the way to 42nd street, and they performed with warmth and polite resolution of high-end frequencies. Some said it was too mellow, but to me it sounded just right. Pictured above are Jonathan Lin and Carlos Giraldo from Sony posing with the SS-AR1 enclosure, reviewed in Stereophile last July.
John Atkinson  |  Apr 18, 2012  |  0 comments
The larger of the two Audio Doctor rooms at the Waldorf=Astoria featured KEF's Blade speaker driven by Chord monoblocks and a Chord Red Reference digital player. This was my first chance to hear the English manufacturer's $30,000/pair speaker, which has been featured at dealer events the past few months. I was not disappointed: the sound of the Reference Recordings Scheherazade had focus and stability, coupled with an even full-range balance. (Could the array of Shakti Hallograph "candelabra" be responsible for what I heard? Nah!)
Ariel Bitran  |  Apr 18, 2012  |  0 comments
In the LessLoss Audio room, a gorgeous couple of Kaiser Vivace loudspeakers painted in a Lamborghini Orange finish ($42,500 in painted semi-gloss, add $2500 for the Lambo paint job) paired with electronics from Beyond Frontiers Audio, including their Tulip Tube DAC converter, which runs in a dual mono state with 2 Burr Brown chips, and the Tulip Stereo Integrated amplifier. Tulip, in the designer’s former country of Yugoslavia, is a friendly name for a “good old guy”. Cabling and “ambient field conditioning” in this room were provided by LessLoss, who offered their Anchorwave cables and Blackbody ambient field conditioner. The Blackbody claims to “enhance audio playback quality by modifying the interaction of your gear’s circuitry with the ambient electromagnetic field.”
John Atkinson  |  Apr 18, 2012  |  0 comments
I moderated two "Ask the Editors" sessions at the NY Show, where reviewers and editors were put on the spot by probing questions from the audience. My thanks to (from left to right): Alan Sircom (HiFi+, not visible), Stephen Mejias (Stereophile), Jeff Dorgay (ToneAudio), Alan Taffel (The Absolute Sound), Michael Fremer (Stereophile and AnalogPlanet.com), Grant Clauser (Electronic House), and Art Dudley (Stereophile and Fretboard Journal) for their often frank and always informative answers.

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