in trouble now. I hear they're having an audiophile tea party in Wales
— throwing all kinds of American audio gear, CDs and even LPs
into the sea. My friend Tom informs me that I erroneously stated
was in England. It seems that
is to the west of
on the isle of Great Britain. I guess I'll never get a piece of Leema gear for review, now. I've
emailed Hillary Clinton to make a formal apology on my behalf. Sorry, dudes.
of Bluebird Music was on hand
with a tidy rig comprised of Exposure CD
player, preamp and 100 watt monoblocks in a Quadraspire
rack driving pair of Spendor's
new A9 speakers ($7295 US) featuring trickle-down technology from their
flagship model. With 90dB sensitivity and a load that never falls below 6.2
Ohms, it is an easy load to drive. The Chord
DAC was their new QBD76 with a new proprietary chipset that
replaces the 8-year old technology in their top rated DAC64 yet retains the
same $5k price tag. Inputs include Bluetooth and USB as well as a pair each of
coax, AES and optical. Signal to noise ratio is 120dB. It has been a while
since Exposure electronics have made a noise so at first I thought the
mediocre sound here was as good as it gets. But Jay persisted in inviting me
to play some other music. Thankfully, with a fresh cut, the system popped to
life with improved clarity, dynamics and air — all courtesy of a fresh CD.
The old Chord DAC64 was a $5K unit, so that tells you what league the new
QBD76 is in. However, if you check out the Bluebird website you will find an
introductory special for a very limited time. This is certainly one of the
most visually unique and intriguing pieces in all of high end audio... and this
one does come from England. Cables in this room were from Van den Hul,
by the way. The entire rig, minus the optional Chord DAC went for $14,409 US.
announced new cables made in the USA, but the real surprise was the beauty of the music coming from their flagship
Black Swan loudspeakers ($40K) by Roksan
Caspian monoblocks (100 wpc). Roksan CD player and preamp completed the rig.
I've heard the Black Swans with a number of other amplifiers, both tube and
solid state and this was the most satisfying ever, drawing a big crowd. They
also had on hand their Sonogram speaker, now up to $4500 with a wood veneer
finish in place of the utilitarian stage black finish it had when first
introduced as a very high value model. On my second visit they were playing
their new Sonogram Reference model with an additional blob of wood added to
each side for rigidity as well as other refinements, no doubt. At $6500 the
Reference was doing an excellent job also. While the Sonograms look like a
conventional block-shape speaker, internally they are divided up so there are
no parallel surfaces.
Last year Fidelio Music,
the audiophile recording company, was featuring their new recording of Anne
Bisson, Blue Mind.
This album has been a big success for them and Anne Bisson returned again this
year for another concert which, in the course of my work, I regrettably forgot
to attend. In the Fidelity room this year they had traded their VPA tube Nagra
monoblocks for a cool running new solid state stereo amplifier, the MSA, which
uses MOSFETs and puts out 60 wpc, or twice the power and twice the current if
used in the bridged mode. Fidelio used two of these amps, running at 60 watts
per channel, unbridged, to drive their Verity
Audio loudspeakers. The attention in this room is always on their
music, and they showcase it very well with their outstanding reference rig.
A dps turntable
sported their new carbon fiber arm with a Lyra
Argo cartridge that sounded very good. Ayre
is manufacturing the power supply for the North American market to use with
this German built turntable. Ayre monoblocks were driving the Sonus
Faber Cremona speaker ($12,500) in another very good sounding room
— much better than in previous years when Ayre and Sonus Faber have had a
larger but duller, over damped room.
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