NY Audio & AV 2012

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John Atkinson  |  Apr 16, 2012  |  First Published: Apr 18, 2012  |  0 comments
Audio Shows give industry professionals the chance to check out products they have read about in magazines. Here, Wilson's Peter McGrath (right) talks to Bricasti's Brian Zolner (The "Bri" in Bricasti) about the latter's M1 D/A processor that so impressed me in the February issue. Feeding data to the M1 was Rega's super- sexy Apollo CD player, which Sam Tellig will be reviewing in the July issue of Stereophile.
Stephen Mejias  |  Apr 17, 2012  |  0 comments
After years of exchanging e-mails with Music First’s Harry O’Sullivan, seen here holding his Baby Reference Preamp ($7900), it was a pleasure to finally meet him. My instincts were right: Harry is a cool dude. We chatted about music, gear, New York City, and, of course, beer. As Ariel mentioned, at refreshingly low volumes, the sound in this room was particularly relaxed and inviting, marked by good rhythmic snap and lovely detail and tone. It’s shocking how big a soundstage can be thrown by the little Rogers LS3/5A loudspeakers! We listened to Lou Reed’s “Walk on the Wild Side,” which seemed somewhat appropriate, as this was Harry’s first time visiting Manhattan.
Stephen Mejias  |  Apr 16, 2012  |  First Published: Apr 17, 2012  |  0 comments
At the Audio Doctor in Jersey City, NJ, you’ll find stereo systems set up along just about every wall of the beautiful, old Victorian house. Apparently, the Audio Doctor’s Dave Lalin decided to bring a bit of home to the Waldorf=Astoria, setting up not one, not two, but three fine systems in one of his two large demo suites. Here we see one of those three systems—my favorite, comprising KEF R900 loudspeakers ($5000/pair), and a trio of Abbingdon Music Research products: the DP-777 D/A processor, used as a preamp/DAC ($5000); AM-777 integrated amplifier, used as a power amp ($5000); and the CD-777 disc player, used as a transport. Contributing to the fine sound were Acoustic System International cables, footers, and resonators. Even standing off to the side of the room, the music was engaging and easy to enjoy. Sitting down in the sweet spot was a greater treat: Ella and Louis sounded divine, their voices rich in texture, tone, and feeling.
Stephen Mejias  |  Apr 17, 2012  |  0 comments
Wes Bender Studio NYC clearly cares about the way things look and sound. The components here shared a clean appearance and worked together for a big, bold sound. Making their NYC debut were the Hansen Audio Prince E loudspeakers ($39,000/pair) and Viola Audio Labs Crescendo preamplifier/DAC ($19,000, including Apple iPod Touch).
Stephen Mejias  |  Apr 17, 2012  |  0 comments
Also on display in the Red Wine Audio room was the company’s Audez’e Edition headphone amplifier, optimized for use with the popular Audez’e LCD-2 headphones. The complete system ($4900) includes the amplifier, a set of LCD-2 headphones, and ALO Audio’s new Audez’e headphone cable. If you already own the headphones, however, you can purchase the amp and cable for ($3950). Price includes a very nice carrying case. This happy listener said the system sounded wonderful.
John Atkinson  |  Apr 17, 2012  |  0 comments
Friday night at the NY Audio & AV Show, Stereophile sponsored a concert featuring Attention Screen, the jazz quartet led by reviewer Bob Reina (right). In the four improvisations lasting almost an hour, covering musical genres that ranged from the blues through space music to salsa, Bob had a blast playing a rather nice Steinway piano. Drummer Mark Flynn provided some of the most intelligent percussion I have heard, playing in lock step with bassist Chris Jones, yet taking risks that propelled the music forward, outward, and upward. The Steinway was provided by Peter Becker, of NYC dealer Klavierhaus. It was brought in specifically for the show and sponsored by the ever-generous Robin Wyatt of Robyatt Audio, who also sponsored the Elio Villafranca concert.
Stephen Mejias  |  Apr 14, 2012  |  First Published: Apr 17, 2012  |  0 comments
Also on hand in the Ultra Systems/Cable Company room was the HiFiMan EF6 ($1599), seen here atop an Oppo BDP-83 modified by Exemplar Audio ($2500). We first saw the EF6 at CES. The 5W, solid-state, class-A design is HiFiMan's answer to the most difficult-to-drive headphones. The Exemplar Audio-modded Oppo has a new linear power supply, upgraded op-amps, and high-quality polypropylene capacitors.
Ariel Bitran  |  Apr 16, 2012  |  First Published: Apr 17, 2012  |  3 comments
I will state up-front that the Audio Note AN-E Lexus loudspeakers ($19,000/pair) and accompanying Audio Note gear was not my favorite system at the show. I did not have a favorite, as I particularly enjoyed the sound of many systems including the Sony room, the Innovative Audio room, and the High Water Sound room. Yet, I easily spent the most time at Audio Note. Why?

John Atkinson  |  Apr 17, 2012  |  0 comments
Sony’s Motoyuki (Yuki) Sugiura adjusts the volume on the Pass Labs preamp. Although the room was a bit too big for the SS-AR2s, the top-octave balance of the 1" soft-dome tweeter being optimized for a smaller acoustic space, these $20,000/pair speakers, derived from the SS-AR1 that so impressed Kalman Rubinson last July, produced one of the best sounds I heard at the 2012 NY Show. Despite the mellow balance, there was a wealth of recorded detail to be heard, with a huge, stable soundstage. Commendably for a speaker with a modest footprint, the sound didn't appreciably harden at high levels. I will be reviewing the SS-AR2 in the November issue of Stereophile.
Ariel Bitran  |  Apr 17, 2012  |  0 comments
The Music First Audio room was getting a lot of buzz around the show for its sound: delicate and detailed, a sound which emphasized Chet Atkins’ nimble shredding on “Snowbird” perfectly. Like his fast-fingered attacks, the playback from a Revox reel-to-reel A77 fed to the passive Music First Baby Reference Preamp ($7900) into Rogers LS35A speakers powered by a Bel Canto S300 was nuanced and swift. Sam Tellig reviews a similar Music First Audio Classic Magnetic Preamplifier ($4185) in our upcoming June issue. Also appealing in this room were gorgeous and compact stands from Hi-Fi Racks.
Ariel Bitran  |  Apr 17, 2012  |  1 comments
The mad rush to check out the first available rooms at zero hour at a hi-fi show can be a harrowing experience. Even though everyone has a map of the exhibits within their program guide, sometimes just meandering and finding the room that calls out to you is the best way to choose. Well the bowl of Reese’s Cups and mini-packets of Whoppers outside the Veloce room sure did speak to me, as did the sound. Paired with YG Kipod 2 Signature speakers and powered by two class-D monoblocks from Veloce, the V-6s ($15,000/pair), sound was clear with a deep black backdrop, probably because these amps run on batteries, which managing director Mark Conti said was “more complicated than simply putting a battery in a box.” This system accurately simulated the live attack of a hi-hat and the sharp snap of a rim-shot on the edge of snare. Conti then happily played This Is Right Now, an EP by my band Heroes of the Open End cut at a home studio in Brooklyn. The system revealed many of the flaws in this recording, including poor bass equalization, unrealistic drum sound, and balance issues between the guitars. Doh! Next time we’re going to a real studio!
Stephen Mejias  |  Apr 17, 2012  |  0 comments
Even at low volumes, the sound coming from the Red Wine Audio/Fidelis AV room was detailed, engaging, and easy to enjoy. The system I heard was made of Red Wine’s Isabella vacuum tube preamp/DAC ($4000) and Liliana monoblock power amplifiers ($6000/pair), an MSB transport, Tellurium Q cabling, and a relative newcomer to the Fidelis line, England’s Kudos C20 loudspeakers. While all Red Wine products are battery-powered, the Liliana is especially interesting because it is the first Red Wine amplifier to employ a class-A tube input stage and a class-A/B MOSFET output stage.
Stephen Mejias  |  Apr 15, 2012  |  First Published: Apr 17, 2012  |  0 comments
And here’s Well Rounded Sound’s designer, Jerry Cmehil, holding a couple of his company’s smaller offerings—in his right hand, a little Yorkie ($249/pair), and in his right hand, a Jack Terrier 2 ($299/pair). These speakers are identical in size, but the Jack Terrier is slightly more sensitive (88dB vs the Yorkie’s 87dB rating) and has a larger specified frequency range (100Hz–24kHz vs 100Hz–21kHz).
Ariel Bitran  |  Apr 16, 2012  |  First Published: Apr 17, 2012  |  1 comments
At 10am on Saturday morning, my first stop was to visit Gideon Schwartz in the AudioArts room. Gideon and I had met the night before and shared hearty handshakes while basking in our Semitic auras. Schwartz welcomed listeners to come spin vinyl in his room, as indicated by his pre-show email, “Please bring your own LP's and it would be my pleasure to play them for you.” And that I did.
Art Dudley  |  Apr 17, 2012  |  0 comments
Sony Electronics launched their new SS-AR2 loudspeaker ($20,000/pair), seen here with the X600.5 mono amplifiers from Pass Labs. The SS-AR2 is a three-way, four-driver floorstander that’s crafted from select Japanese maple laminate (the front baffle) and Finnish birch plywood (the remainder of the cabinet). Twin aluminum-cone woofers are said to extend bass response down to 42Hz.