Well it is Sunday and I have survived another show. For some reason this year's
was not as hectic as the past three shows I have attended. I do not know whether
that is because it has been spread out over a much larger area, or the show attendance is down from previous years, but none of the exhibits on Friday or Saturday were
full. Today I just waltzed through "THE ZOO", which was almost empty with all the time in the world to talk to salespeople. For those interested in video, there has been a marked improvement in both price and performance of high definition televisions, especially DLP and Plasma, but the best images still came from the two CRT projectors I saw at the show, based on Electrohome 8500 and 9500 chassis.
This will be a brief summary of my findings as I left my own computer home and there is a line-up in the pressroom for the few they have available. This is surprising as otherwise this has been a very well set up show with few problems. I guess
you will have to wait until my February column for all the nitty gritty.
Bus service was fast between the venues; especially between the Alexis Park CES high end audio and the San Remo T.H.E. Show. Also, T.H.E. Show, except for being spread out between three areas, was well done, and I think the people there actually will have to take the prize over the Alexis Park for best overall demonstrations.
The high-end audio exhibits for the most part sounded very good and several were exceptional, something that is very unusual. Hopefully some of the product will be heading my way for review. I was especially enamored with the new TACT 8 channel preamp-processor-room correction system, which will do room correction for either ten different speakers, or act as 1st to 10th order active crossovers for several speakers, and also do DD, DTS and DPLII decoding. All for $10,000 list. While they only had it hooked up to stereo loudspeakers, the demonstration certainly proved to me that digital crossovers and room correction is the way to go to idealize sound reproduction. I was on my hands and knees begging for a unit to review and pray they thought I'm worthy to evaluate their product.
While I have gotten away from giving Best Sound of the Show, as it is difficult to tell who actually has the best product, but rather who can set the systems up best, I have to give some credits to several of the rooms where I put my feet up and really enjoyed what I heard.
Best sound had to be the EDGE room. Above is a picture in their mega-bucks, mega-watt amplifiers that could stand in for one of the mid sized Egyptian pyramids. They used it to drive both a WISDOM speaker set-up, and a set of speakers with multiple ceramic drivers done as a home project by one of their engineers. Guess what, the home built unit with the EDGE amplifiers had the most realistic sound I have heard at a show. Imaging and instrument placement were equivalent to the best single driver units and mini speakers, dynamics almost as good as horns, and soundstage close to electrostatics. I hope this guy starts selling this speaker. Just goes to show what a hobbyist with the proper skills can accomplish. I wish I had gotten the guy's name to send him my Kudos.
Second best sound was actually in the room next door where PipeDream loudspeakers were being driven by VAC 75 watt amps using digital equipment designed by George Mark Audio placed on ARCICI Suspense Racks. This was the best I've heard the Pipedreams sound. Unhappily when they went to do analog, the VPI turntable had developed a wow problem, probably secondary to low voltages, so analog playback was out. Unhappily both systems were in the "Don't ask the Price" range, so I guess I won't be reviewing them in my home any time soon.
Best Horn sound has to be, believe it or not from a pair of theater
speakers made by Siemens, a photo of which can also be found in Steve's article. 1960's vintage and taking up the entire wall of a huge room, they came close to the best reproduction
I have gotten from my system (but not quite.)
Best SET amplifier sound was, of course, Jack Eliano's Electraprint 300B amps. Considering
my January article where I gave them my Best Equipment of the Year Award, could I do any differently? Actually they sounded great, although mated with the speakers they were with, the name of which is buried in my drained brain, they
did not quite reproduce the micro-dynamics and soundscape I get from them in my system.
Happily, I can not give an award for worst sound at the show, because I really didn't hear anything bad at the high end exhibits at either venue. Either I'm mellowing or the equipment is actually getting better, or the presenters are learning how to get the best from their equipment under show conditions.
Best Half Hour Listening at the End of the Day definitely goes to the WISDOM Audio room. All themselves tucked them into a very large room on the first floor of the San
Remo, and I almost missed them. I was dead tired and trying to get back to the MGM for a rest when I spotted them and decided to sit down for a two-minute foot break. I know, I've panned their loudspeakers in the past, but they have come up with a price is no object ($250,000) set up of dual amplifiers, dual six foot tall subwoofers, dual seven-foot tall panels that lulled me into listening for a full half hour. The sound was a simple CD, from Deutsch
Grammophone no less, of organ music that was the most realistic reproduction of an organ that I've heard from two channels. The dynamics were as good as my horns, and that's saying something. Boy, did my feet, well massaged by the floor bass, feel better after that interlude.
That's it for now. I am off to a week's vacation at the National Parks close by, and hopefully will be able to give you a full report with photos in my February column.