T.H.E. Show Newport
The Home Entertainment Show Report, Part
Alpha Design was
here at T.H.E. Show 2014 here in Newport Beach and we gave you all the details
on them within our Munich High End 2014 show report two weekends ago.
display are a wonderful collection of VAC amps. VAC uses a great, innovative
auto-bias scheme, incredible quality parts and build. So naturally it makes
sense their gear is so highly prized by audiophiles worldwide.
CD-3sx, Stratosphere and NW-T with the OrthosXS tube monoblocks. These
monoblocks represent Ayon Audio's 3rd generation KT150 vacuum tube units. The
OrthosXS provide true balanced or single-ended operation combined with the
ability to deliver 300 watts per channel. All of the unit's gain stages and
power stage have been redesigned from the previous generation and are now
optimized to provide for the shortest signal path and the most direct signal
virtually driving with Napa Acoustic NA-208A speakers an NA-208S ($399 and
$199 per pair respectively).
incredible Classic Direct turntable ($30,000) includes tonearm and we see it
here with the terrific Lyra Etna cartridge ($6995). Yum!
I wish more
manufacturers were like KEF. KEF smartly used their R900 ($5000 per pair)
speakers here at T.H.E. Show 2014 and they sounded great! While some rooms
seem to use overly large speaker's in the upper level rooms within the hotel,
manufacturers truly should remember the most important thing to achieving
sound quality is the room-speaker interface/integration. Loved the new Blades
within the big room at Munich, though they'd devastate this smaller room here
at T.H.E. Show. Well played, KEF. Well played indeed.
Fidelis Audio had the Wilson Benesch Square
Series Two speakers with the LFD NCSE MKII amplifier ($5999 on up and $6895
VPI Industries Classic 2
($4000) with JMW Memorial tonearm includes an anti-skate mechanism, 2"
Delrin feet with three ball bearing bottoms inverted bearing. Other features
include the hardened stainless steel shaft, 60 Rockwell chrome hardened ball,
phosphor bronze bushing and PEEK thrust disc.
CEntrance just released their new A1 DAC/amp combo ($599) that takes the
optical digital out of an Astell&Kern AK100 and AK120 and has its own
24-bit/192kHz DAC and less than 1 Ohm with 1 Watt output amplifier. It handles
both balanced and unbalanced headphones of course. Notice how the
Astell&Kern unit fits securely into the A1. Very interesting.
So rounding tings up.... my first main comment
is that there were far too many big loudspeakers in smallish rooms. Look guys,
you can try to get that combo to sound good, yet the odds are highly against
you. This is especially true if you are not using a proper room correction
device. Next time please bring smaller speakers or get a bigger room would be
my humble suggestion. Some proper room acoustic devices like those from
RealTraps, Sonex, etc is also a good idea too.
On the plus side of things, it was great to see
so many under 40 year old enthusiasts at T.H.E. Show 2014 here in Newport
Beach! The close-knit online communities like Head-Fi, AVS Forums, etc had a
great group of guys bringing much coverage of this event to their crowd
and social networks. There was also a nice showing by the lovely ladies, which
is the norm for German and Italy shows yet is now starting to increase here in
the States. Am only a tiny bit surprised there was little discussion about the Apple
and Beats deal, yet that's ok because we are but a very small niche' market
whereas the true driving force is within the mainstream area. i look
forward to Q3/4 2014 as things will be coming our way and the more youthful
crowd is gaining momentum as the baby boomers are finding their final resting
places. Sometimes it can be hard to make a transition, yet the high-end audio
industry has some very innovative companies that can create excellent products
to meet the demands of their customers.
Those of you seeking my personal awards or Best
Of, well, sorry to disappoint yet so few rooms really got my attention for
truly outstanding sound that it just doesn't merit making an awards listing. i
shall make no apology for being so honest. But if you really want to
push me on this matter, then i would pick the following:
The Von Gaylord room earns Enjoy the
Music.com's Best Sound @ T.H.E. Show 2014 with an exquisite and engaging
sound that was wonderfully dynamic and world-class imaging.
KEF wisely knew their room was on the
smaller side and thus demonstrated their R900 ($5000 per pair)
speakers. The KEF R900 have earned Enjoy the Music.com's Best Sound @
T.H.E. Show 2014 for beautifully delivering a harmonic texture that was
natural and exciting. The soundscape produced by the KEF R900 was equally as
impressive. By mating a proper-sized speaker into the room they succeeded
where others failed. .
MrSpeakers earns Enjoy the Music.com's Best Sound @ T.H.E. Show
2014 for their Alpha Dog headphones ($599). The Alpha Dogs have a naturally
full and extended sound that my ears loved! They were very comfortable to wear
too! Combined with specially manufactured 3D printed cups and custom connectors,
MrSpeakers goes the extra mile to deliver a product very worthy of an award.
Of course we asked for a review sample and you'll be able to read a full
write-up on them in the coming months.
Enjoy the Music.com's Best
Value Award @ T.H.E. Show 2014 would go to Magnepan for their .7 speakers
(~$1200 per pair) that keep the planar love alive yet at prices real people
can afford. Having reviewed their speakers and knowing their 'family sound',
the .7 should be a resounding success for the company. Bravo Magnepan!
Napa Acoustic earns Enjoy the
Value Award @ T.H.E. Show 2014 for their entire line of products. They
continue innovating their high quality and reliable vacuum tube products and
speakers while keeping prices virtually anyone can afford.
Of course in the end what really
matters is that you...
Enjoy the Music,
Steven R. Rochlin
---> We have more with many
photos from Jeff Poth!