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New York Audio Show Report 2014
New York Audio Show Report 2014
Bringin' it to Brooklyn 
Show Coverage By Rick Becker

Part 2

In the next room the only thing familiar to me was Lyle Lovett singing "North Dakota", but it didn't sound like the version from Joshua Judges Ruth. Electricity was conditioned by a Theorem that looked to be made out of granite and quartz. A Lampizator transport ($2695) fed a tubed preamp/DAC ($13,000 when loaded with all options) which fed a pair of their monoblocks with 211 tubes (?)($10,000). The multi-chamber piano black speaker had the name Illumination discretely printed on the side. They were $20,000. The speaker cables were top of the line and had special filtration built in for $15,000. The rack and amp stands were by Star Sound who had a demonstration table set up in the hall.


Dr. Hsu, who is a legend for his affordable tubular subwoofers back in the 1990s, was proudly showing his latest work which included stand mounted monitor speakers and conventional looking subwoofers, still at affordable prices. Shown here is his VTF-3Mk5HP in satin black ($800) that goes down to 16 Hz, but the room was rigged with a screen and BenQ projector for a home theater presentation which I did not see. The power supply for the sub tracks the signal (it's a switching power supply) and acts as a servo, feeding the class AB power amplifier rated at 600 watts. Color this room affordable, right down to the zip-cord-like speaker cables!


Well Rounded Sound is to be known by their tubular speakers as seen here. I heard the larger WRS EXP ($1599) with the wooden stand that is actually a sound chamber with a driver down at floor level. The cabinet is made from recyclable material and laminated with sustainably harvested American Walnut or American Rift Oak. It utilizes a 5" full range driver and a dual ring super tweeter, so the driver at the floor is probably a passive radiator. Frequency range is 52 Hz to 42 kHz, so they also utilized their WRS Woof 6 ($1199), a sealed subwoofer that handles 300 watts rms from their WRS Woof Amp 300 ($600) to cover 28 to 200 Hz, though I didn't catch what crossover control was implemented here. The Woof Amp 300 is the box on the floor behind the monitors. They were running two subs; each powered by its own amp, hence all the spaghetti on the floor. The monitor was powered by a Wired4Sound Mint integrated amplifier, though a Leben SS300XS tube integrated amplifier of modest power was also on the rack. The music playing here at the time was a raucous Latin jazz, I think, and I didn't get a good sense what these speakers can really do.


Krell monoblocks with 575 watts each were driving Martin Logan CLX electrostatic speakers ($25,000). The Krell Illusion preamp ($15,000) has built-in crossover with selectable crossover points and selectable slopes. This made it easy to integrate a pair of subwoofers ($4000 ea.) seen behind the panel speakers. I was able to sit reasonably close to the sweet spot to listen to a classical piece with full orchestra and it was very impressive with a very full sound that conveyed the ambience of the hall very nicely—especially considering the modest size room this rig was in. My hat is off to the guys who did such a fine job in making such a large rig sound so good in such a modest size room.


Vinh Vu of Gingko Audio ran me through the rig driving their ClaraVu 7 Mk 3 modular speaker ($8995). The two top pieces are three-way monitors with a ribbon super-tweeter, soft-dome tweeter and pair of mid-range drivers mounted in isobaric fashion in a sealed paperboard tube. The monitors stack upon the powered subs making for a full-range speaker or you can use the monitors on stands. You can bi-wire into the top and bottom, or run to the woofer unit and jump to the top (or vice versa?), or use the preamp to drive the sub through an RCA interconnect, probably the least beneficial choice. The speaker is manufactured in New Jersey, but the drivers come from various parts of the world. The Lampizator Big Level 7 DAC/preamp ($11,500) comes from Poland, sporting three tubes on top, one of which appears to be a 2A3. The power amp is a Wells Audio Innamorata solid state black beauty by Jeff Wells in California for $6500. While this amp puts out the same 150 wpc as their less expensive Akasha model, it incorporated significant Bybee Labs quantum purification to lower noise and it is heavily bias toward Class A. Sources included a Music Culture MC501A CD player ($4500) and a laptop using JRiver. Cabling was by Dana Cables and included their massive boondoggle Diamond Reference, bi-wire, 3-meter length for $6500, Diamond Reference interconnects ($1500 for 1 meter), Digital S/PDIF Diamond Reference for $795, and 2-meter Diamond Reference USB cable, $895. These Diamond Reference series cables were far more expensive than their Onyx series interconnect that earned an Enjoy the Music.com Blue Note Award this year. In fact, the $195 IC was being offered as a show special for only $99, along with many other show specials. The Rimsky Korsakov "Dance of the Tumblers" was especially vivid and dynamic and this $46,000 rig was one of the Best Rooms at the Show!


The Estonians and the Russians got along just fine in the Park Avenue Audio room 355 where Russian G9 Audio preamp and monoblocks with KT120 tubes ($30,000 for pre and monos) were used to drive Audes Excellence 5 AMT speakers ($16,000). This, too, was a very find sounding rig, but I was asked to come back later to hear the Audes Blues speakers ($6500), which I've praised in the distant past, driven by the less expensive integrated amplifier. The Blues have been a huge success for Audes, selling in the thousands and rarely show up on the used market.

More to come, including one of the most incredible experiences I've had at an audio show!


---> Rick Becker's NYAS 2014 part 3.  





















































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