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