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Top Audio & Video 2005 Milan, Italy


  Standing nearly 5 feet high was Tannoy's Westminster Royal loudspeaker with its dual-concentric driver and adjustable crossover. This is quite a nice time to reminisce about dad's circa 1970 amazing 12-inch Gold Monitors i grew up enjoying... and today dad will not sell/trade to me. Ummm, if dad is reading this i offer a pair of mint condition  KEF 104/2 and a tube amplifier for your Tannoys in custom enclosure. Do we have a deal?


Unison Research single chassis dual-mono designed Performance (€7500) uses a trio of KT88 per channel. It was mated to Opera's Tebaldi large floorstanding loudspeaker with front, side, and rear drivers. On the front appears the upper frequency drivers, the side has woofers, and the rear has four silk dome tweeters. This is an all-Italian system and yes, it reproduced music!


Melody had their SHW 1688 II tube preamplifier with point-to-point wiring internally. Tubes are a pair of 101D, 6SL7, 6SN7, and a single 5AR4 to produce frequencies from 3Hz to 100kHz. And yes those watts sounded great! Very few high-end events promise smooth, wonderfully rich sound and Milan's Top Audio & Video show is among those rare shows. Alas, Americans who only visit homeland shows truly do not know what they are missing.


SAP has a new turntable called the VF Autograph (€10,000, or with SME 312 tonearm and EMT cartridge for €13,000). The turntable is available in any color and wood trim option. Uniquely, it uses a five-phase stepped motor that directly drives the platter. In fact it appears many manufactures may be going back to direct drive as it indeed has advantages (that will be covered in a future review).


Seen for the first time outside Japan is muRata's ES301 loudspeaker that features the company's amazing dome drive unit and three passive 4-inch radiators for extending the lower frequencies. The cabinet's visually stunning paint  is specially done with the classic Urushi technique. It is with my deepest apologies my digital camera could not reproduce it here.


None other than Peter McGrath mated Wilson Audio loudspeakers with Krell amplification... with source material being original mater tape recordings! Wish more rooms could be so lucky! Bravo Wilson/Krell!


Gryphon's statement loudspeakers, while covered within our Industry News pgae, are truly outstanding when experienced personally. Consider this, nearly unlimited dynamics, full frequency response from top to bottom, and packaged is beautiful wood sides. Wonderful!


Naturally one of Italy's pride and joy, Sonus Faber, had a grand room with many of their products including their Stradivari. This was reviewed in TAS' June/July edition.


Of course Italy also has Chario who indeed manufacturers a great line of loudspeakers for the discerning audiophile.


Clearaudio's new Balanced Reference Phonostage (€4000) is a true dual-mono design with four chassis. Two chassis are for each channel's power supply and the other pair for the critical analog stage. Both balanced and unbalanced inputs and outputs plus gain/resistance are adjustable as well. The power supply handles four different voltages to insure each analog section has an extremely accurate source. Since i have been on an analog review roll consider sending a unit my way :)


Looking oh so sexy was Xd system by NHT (€7270). This satellite/subwoofer system includes matching stands plus a processor/amplifier (not shown). The processor/amplifier has a 150-watt amplifier for each of the two monitor's drivers. A powerful 500-watt digital amplifier is built into the subwoofer. The processor provides digital correction to insure the system imparts the listening room with optimum music reproduction. The processor handles all the timing, phasing, and crossover duties digitally.


Made in Italy is GEA's M20 (€16,450) floorstander and E12 (€4000, not including stand) stand-mounted high sensitivity loudspeaker. The GM M20 is 99dB/W/m sensitive using a Fostex 208ES driver and has a frequency response from 35Hz to 35kHz. There is a super tweeter that augments the main Fostex driver while the cabinet is quite impressive, large and solid.


Ikarus Audio had their Vivldi preamplifier (€2500) and a matching stereo amplifier (€2800). The ever-so-sexy tube is a 316A that produces 5 watts per channel and looked erotic! While you will not find this at your local dealer, they do indeed sell directly to customers worldwide. Besides, the 300B amplifier you have probably needs a break, time for a change.


And if your 300B amplifier needs a break, how about the remainder of your system? Here is an old Thorens feeding a Citation I stereo control center, feeding a Citation II stereo amplifier... feeding old Dalquist loudspeakers. It sounded quite impressive and begs the question is newer truly better?



Why yes, it is an old Garrard and Lesa turntable. Retro baby!


Click here for Sunday's coverage.



































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