Stereophile Show -- Home Entertainment 2007 Hi-Fi and Home
By Brett Rudolph
here to e-mail reporter.
Well once again the flowers are starting to bloom, the weather is turning warm and in New York City, it is time for the Home Entertainment Show. This year the show held May 11th through May 13th was held at the Hyatt Grand Central. Interestingly enough, the hotel is also right next to New York's Grand Central Station. So against a backdrop of one of the most impressive cities I know, the show is open to members of the trade for the first few hours and then the lucky few that happened to be able to attend. Although it was oftentimes extremely crowded since the majority of it takes place in various hotel rooms and boardrooms, it is still a great place to see new gear, old time favorites and even meet and talk to people from the companies that make the products.
Have to admit that this was not my first time going to the Home Entertainment Show, and being a fairly seasoned attendee I have learned to take advantage of the time set aside for members of the press. For this year's show it was the first five hours of Friday, but it was enough time to at least see the equipment, hear some of the sounds and even to take a few pictures. The following is a brief commentary of what I saw.
The conference level was both the beginning of my journey into the sights and sounds of the show, coincidentally it was also contained the press room and the registration area. There were some pretty impressive rooms, admittedly some of them took me by surprise and certainly kept my attention.
Krell - Will admit that I have always had a "thing" for Krell and their products. While I have never actually had the chance to review any of their equipment, have had many opportunities to hear it and have never been disappointed. Their room at the HE show was no exception and featured proudly was their Evolution line of products and their even prouder parents… or should I say the owners of the company. While I didn't have a chance to really immerse myself in their splendor, even the little taste I had leaves me wanting for more.
Ambiphonics Institute/Tact Audio/SoundLab - They say that a picture is worth a thousand words, but unfortunately in this particular room there were so many people that I never had a chance to take one. However, am not sure that a picture would have done it justice. Although the layout was impressive, what was truly notable was the sound. Together, these three entities put together one of the most stunning presentations of surround sound I have heard to date. While I wish the acoustics had been better and the room not as crowded, even with all the
"problems" the new format which Ambiphonics has released still holds an amazing amount of promise.
The room itself featured more speakers than most dealers have in stock positioned in such a way as to blanket the listener in sound from every direction. Yet, while this was pretty amazing, what was equally so was hearing the two front speakers give a performance that was nearly as perfect as all of the other speakers combined. Of course the fact that they were full range electrostatic speakers and had some serious room correction coupled with the new DSP format did not hurt at all.
Outlaw Audio - Well they might not be criminals, but their equipment certainly can certainly steal a show. In addition to a pretty impressive display of their new products, which included an amplifier that needs two 15A circuits to function correctly, they also displayed their new speakers. Next to the "showroom" they let people hear their new components. While I won't go as to far as to say they were the best I heard at the show, they certainly carried a great deal of bang for the
After spending more than my allotted time on the conference level, I scurried upwards to see what treasures one could find on the upper floors. Unfortunately, the large rooms with decent floor space and ok acoustics did not continue starting on the fourteenth floor and above. While companies did their best to mitigate and/or decrease the poor sounding rooms, they were just not designed for an audio show. This, coupled with the number of people and the warmth that the day, it was not the best environment for a casual listening experience.
With that sort of "disclaimer" attached, there were several rooms that stood out in my mind. However, I hasten to point out that nearly all the rooms had products I would love to hear again, but just could not get to them all for one reason or another. So, if you are reading this and I did not mention your room or products I do apologize ahead of time, there just was not a chance to experience them all the way they should have been.
KEF - This was one of the first rooms I came to when navigating my way around the fourteenth floor. The company was premiering their Reference Series to the United States market. Even the brief listening to these speakers left me with the impression that they were outstanding performers. The detail I was able to hear was very poignant and engaging and certainly worthy of a further listen.
Ascendo/Behold-USA - While both these companies have been around for quite some time, have not had the chance to hear their products. Must admit that in a show where there was some pretty amazing equipment, this room had my vote as one of the best sounding. Even with all the problems that the rooms had, the system seemed to overcome the issues and give a coherent and sonically pleasing
Lominchay Speakers - These speakers have my vote as standouts in the area of visual appeal. The Mandarin Supreme, are a thing of beauty in my eyes. I can't really give too much comment on their sound as the room was not quiet enough to even judge anything, but if they sound as good as they look and considering their cost they had better be awesome. Pricing is somewhere around a staggering $100k.
Aurum Acoustics - A system's approach to the "perfect" sound. Derrick Moss, designer and president of the company was demonstrating his view of perfection. The system consisted of tube amplifier, CD player/preamp and speakers coupled together with Crystal Cable. While the system was not only strikingly beautiful, it also was one of the best sounding that I heard at the show.
Zu Audio - Zu is one that sort of does it all, and more importantly from what I heard at the show does thing right too. Got to hear their Druid Mk IV speakers, which are their next to top end unit. These were connected to the rest of their system using, of course, Zu cables. Unfortunately, they hadn't named them yet so can't tell you what they were. In total, Zu's system was another one of my absolute favorites from the show both for the price and the sound.
ZVOX - A few years ago, I saw this company at the HE show and wondered what would become of them. They had some great ideas that sounded pretty good, yet wondered if they might get swallowed up in the "big pond." Luckily they did not and at this HE show they debuted their new ZVOX 425. Retailing at around $400, it is designed to produce reproduce the sound of five speakers from a single one.
That is about it for all the companies whose picture actually came out. There are a few more that I really must mention as stand outs amongst the crowds. These companies included
Simaudio, Red Wine Audio, Omega Speaker Systems, Meridian, and Pathos. Each of these company's products excelled from what I heard and definitely deserve more careful listening in a better environment. Overall, not only was I able to hear some really good sounding systems at the show, got a chance to hear equipment in configurations that normally you could only do in the comfort of your own home.
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