New York Audio Show 2019 Report
Brett Enjoys NYC High-End Audio
The New York Audio Show was held at the Park Lane Hotel, a beautiful venue overlooking Manhattan's famous Central Park on November 8th through 10th. It is the perfect place to host such a plethora of audio equipment from affordable to price-no-object and quite a bit in-between. Luckily in shows like this, it is on display for everyone to see and experience in an environment that allows everyone the opportunity to enjoy it.
It was a brink Sunday morning around 11am when we arrived at the show. The lobby of the hotel was full of bags, likely due to it being the last day of the show, but just past them was a sign and a staircase up to the second floor, this was it, the beginning of the adventure.
Salon A was the start of the show for me and it started with bang. Martin Logan Neolith speakers ($89,999.98/pair) stood proudly along with some serious players. The playback system consisted of a Mark Levinson No 515 Turntable ($12,000), a Mark Levinson No 526 Preamplifier ($20,000), a pair of Mark Levinson No 536 Mono Amplifiers ($15,000/each), a Mark Levinson No 585 Integrated Amplifier ($12,000) and a Mark Levinson No 5805 Integrated Amplifier ($8500). If that wasn't enough of a powerhouse coupling, the NYAS was the first time that the new Mark Levinson No 5101 streaming DAC / SACD ($5500) was debuted in Munich this spring. The entire system was completed with MIT Cable Oracle MA Series speaker and power cables and AC management.
The room was crowded, but the sound of the music seemed to make it all disappear. The clarity and ease that the jazz flowed out of the speakers seemed to defy imagination. It filled the room with a nearly mesmerizing enchantment. While I didn't have the opportunity to really get into the details of the new Mark Levinson No 5101, it certainly left me hoping to hear more and as soon as possible. No wonder this was perhaps my favorite system at the show.
Salon B held the show marketplace. Although it was hard to get pictures, you could find some really great albums and I even managed to pick up a copy of Pink Floyd's Wish You Were Here on SACD, that I thought I had finally lost for good from Acoustic Sounds. They even had master tapes for sale, for those that happened to have 1/4" reel-to-reel players sitting around. Here I thought I was the only one who still happened to have one, boy was I wrong. There was so a cool looking network streamer from Mytek called Brooklyn Bridge ($2995), but unfortunately, while we managed to get a picture, trying to get near one was impossible.
Salon C was hosted by ESD Acoustic. They had their Crane and Panda speakers on display along with several of their audio components including their DA-18 DAC, DPA-18 Preamplifier and D200-18 Amplifier. The whole setup does bear a bit of explanation because it was one of the few setups at the show that used horn loaded speakers.
These tend, to my ears, to be a bit tinny, but somehow the folks at ESD managed to get around that deficit for the little time I had to hear them play at least. In fact, I was amazed at how well the speakers performed in the largest room at the show with so many people around. It definitely was another highlight of the show.
The transition from the hallway into the room was miraculous. The ability of the system to create a fairly respectable bubble of coherent music in the cacophony of sound was simply amazing. This was more impressive considering that the hotel rooms on the sixth floor were certainly not conducive to setting up expensive equipment you would want someone to really heard for the first time. However, while certainly not perfect, they made it work better than expected. There was certainly plenty of bass and definitely enough treble, alas, the devil was mainly in the detail.
The PureAudioProject room was another standout at the show. The company, which specializes in modular open baffle speakers showcased their new Trio15 Classic (with Voxativ AC-PiFe full range drivers) speakers ($8500). The speakers were driven by Pass Labs XA-160.8 Power Amplifiers ($29,000/pair), a Luminous Audio Axiom Preamplifier and Phono Stage ($849), and VPI Prime ($3999).
The company did a great job with battling the seriously detrimental hotel environment. There wasn't the visceral impact one might truly want from some music, but given the environment, that could and probably should be expected. The thing that set them apart was the openness that they achieved with their concept. Certainly, the analog front end didn't hurt one bit, but nevertheless, it was a delightfully entertaining listening experience.