RMAF 2018 Show Report -- High-End Home Audio
The Denver Chronicles Part 1
In the small room 1113 I encountered NOU Audio and was treated to an explanation of their innovative driver design which goes way beyond the scope of a show report, but speaker builders should check these guys out. There seems to be something new happening here, but there was no rig or music playing in this room.
In 1118 the Fort Collins Audio store had a fine presentation with Revel F228BE speakers powered by the new Parasound JC5 stereo amp with 400 Wpc designed by John Curl. A Parasound JC2 BP preamp with home theater by-pass shifted between an Ayre QX-5 twenty digital hub with the new ESS ES9038PRO DAC chip and VPI Prime turntable loaded with an Ortofon Cadenza Bronze cartridge. The new Parasound JC3+ reasonably priced phono stage brought the analog signal up to line level. Cardas Clear interconnects brought it all together, and Cardas Clear Beyond kept the lights on. The new Cardas power strip was in use, but I'll have a better photo of it later on.
The Elpispandora presentation in room 1125 was one of those exceptionally rare, jaw-dropping, OMG experiences. It was the Zen art of cable manufacture hosted by the original master himself, Setsuo Mino, and a few followers who spoke very little English. They didn't need to. I was told the silk wrap on the individual wires was all done by hand. And the designs were all created by ear. There is the longer cable, and then there is an attachment that goes with it. The price list gives the "unit price" without specifying if that is for a single cable or a pair. As the saying goes, if you have to ask, you can't afford it. And no, I'm not interested in a review sample. I don't want the responsibility. A polite bow to Kazuma Chiba for working so hard to communicate with me.
In 1124, B&W speakers were driven by Cambridge Audio Edge electronics, their premium series that I thought looked clean with an appealing sense of design. That would be the NQ preamp with network player shown here.
The mbl room at the end of the hall within room 1130 wasn't open yet, which was a pity, as they usually has a very good presentation at Montreal every year.
Muraudio, in the small 1104 room at the other end of the hall had quite a surprise for me. (I probably missed the premiere at the Montreal show earlier this year.) Re-working the technology of their acclaimed omni-directional floor-standers, they've come up with the SP-1, a bi-polar electrostatic stand-mounted hybrid speaker with four dynamic drivers in what appeared to be sealed chambers at the top and bottom of the speaker.
They worked exceedingly well in this small room powered by the new Triangle Art TA-200 Class A monoblocks. Not only was this room visually enticing (as the glamorous look that Triangle Art always provides), but it was among the Best Rooms At RMAF 2018. The Triangle Art Maestro and Maestro Reference turntables certainly had a lot to do with that, too. A TA-350M tube monoblock was off to the side when I was there, so maybe some people had a chance to hear the Muraudio speaker with that beast. At less than $15,000, the SP-1 looks and sounds like a winner, albeit a power-hungry one.
In 1103 the EgglestonWorks Viginti speakers ($39,990/pr) were driven by Brinkmann electronics including their Nyquist Mkll streaming DAC ($17,990), Marconi MkII line stage ($13,990) and Mono amplifiers ($19,990/pr), all connected by AudioQuest cables included the expensive K2 Single Bi-Wire speaker cables at $24,800 for a 10'pr. (Their other cables were not so expensive.) An AudioQuest Niagara 5000 power conditioner ($3999) and HRS RXR-1921-4V rack ($5245) mad significant contributions to the tight, clear sound in this room. What was new here, and on silent display was the red pair of Emma EVO loudspeakers with a projected price of $5500. This speaker was a size and shape that was more approachable than what I'm accustomed to from EgglestonWorks, though I have to admit I've rarely seen them in recent years. The sound here was pretty much as I remembered from years ago. This smaller speaker should bring them a new audience and obviously work in smaller rooms than the Viginti.