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New York Audio Show Report 2014
New York Audio Show Report 2014
Bringin' it to Brooklyn 
Show Coverage By Rick Becker

Part 3

Next up? More analog, of course! This time in the Joseph Audio room with the rig set up on the room diagonal, as usual. First, there was the new Scout Jr. turntable ($1500) still with an outboard motor but with a trimmed down tonearm and (not included in the price) an Ortofon Quintet Red mc cartridge. A VAS mc step-up transformer boosted the signal to a 40 wpc Cayin tube integrated amplifier sitting on the floor which powered Joseph Audio Perspective speakers. The sum total was very nice sound while most of the money of this $17,000 rig was spent on the $13,000 speakers. Something under a table at the back of the room caught my eye as I was leaving. Knowing Jeff to be one to pull a trick from time to time, I lifted the table cloth to find an Ion House Party disco light which he gleefully pulled out and set in motion. Unfortunately, I didn't bring my B-52s LP with me on this trip, but the swirling lights went very well with Pink Floyd's "Eclipse".

 

In the VPI room Matt Weisfeld presented his new Prime turntable, the first model designed primarily by him since his father, Harry, has stepped aside. He was quick to point out the value of this $3500 model in comparison with the original $2500 price of the 3-D tonearm which is included with the Prime. The 3-D tonearm is now priced at $2000 probably due to efficiencies of greater volume production. The addition of the SDS external power supply brings it up to $4500. The Prime looks like a cross between the Scout and the HR-X, with the plinth being beefed up from the Scout model. The Prime feet provide greater isolation with machined Delrin pucks with aluminum insets resting on ball bearings inside. The new Prime feet can be retrofitted to their other tables, as can the 3-D arm. The Prime can be upgraded with their periphery ring and a single motor flywheel. It is targeted, as Matt says, to the guy who is already hooked on vinyl and wants to get the most bang for his buck. Matt exudes energy and enthusiasm and this bodes well for the generational transition of the company. His father, Harry, is not completely in the grave yet, and has turned his attention to the development of a modern day version of a Scott tube amplifier, complete with phonostage, naturally. Matt's contribution to the amp design was the inclusion of a headphone amplifier to tap into that growth sector. The amp will cost $4000 and will be available in 90 days...mid-January. It was sitting on an amp stand in front of the turntable rack and looked very handsome with a bias meter on the face as well as tone controls, and it looked to be switchable from triode to ultralinear mode. So while Matt zigs, Harry zags. And under Matt's guidance, the future of VPI looks bright and this bodes well not just for vinyl playback, but for the entire High End, too. This is an industry that needs new blood and heroic new products. But before we cast off the old, let me point out that this rig was sounding pretty open and dynamic with 30 year old Tannoy Guy Fountain Memory speakers, honoring the founder of Tannoy, with dual concentric drivers... and tone controls!

A side-show in this room was my first experience of the VPI Nomad turntable ($1000) with build-in motor, phono stage and headphone amplifier. I listened through a pair of Kef headphones and the experience far exceeded my expectation. While it addresses the Headphone Generation it can also feed into a full rig to listen through speakers if you wish. The Nomad is a vital conduit to High End audio. I hope they sell tens of thousands of these... and maybe offer it in other colors, too.

 

Speaking of young blood, I met Vinnie Rossi, who looks like he could become the Enzo Ferrari of the High End. He was showing off his LIO ultra-capacitor powered modular Hi-Fi system prototype. Production begins in November and the LIO can be configured to your needs, including DAC, headphone amp, phono stage, pre and power amp with auto-former volume control, with ball-park pricing ranging from $2500 to $6000. Rather than battery power with which he experimented early on, this patent-pending technology will use ultra-capacitor banks with one bank charging while the other bank is playing while completely off the grid. After ten minutes or so, when the power gets low, it will seamlessly switch to the other bank of capacitors while the first bank then charges. Since it is running off-grid, you don't need power conditioners and expensive power cords. The Maxwell ultra-capacitors are measured in farads, not micro-farads, and they charge faster than they discharge in use, so you never run out of power. They are rated for a million charge/discharge cycles, so you will not need to replace them anytime soon. If I've done the math correctly, this should equate to about 19 years of listening, 24/7. Vinnie has been with Red Wine Audio for almost ten years and has gone out on his own with LIO. Look for him at Rocky Mountain Audiofest in Denver. I suggested when he masters High End audio that he switch to auto racing. I understand electric cars can be really quick. Best of luck, young man!

 

Woo Audio once again established their own presence at the show, eschewing the head zone, setting up one room with headphone amps and sharing another room with Todd Garfinkle of M.A Recordings where this pair of unusual speakers from Oswaldsmill Audio were driven by Woo Audio WA-234 monoblock amplifiers. The Mini model speakers by industrial designer David D'Imperio were $25,000 and were another in a long line from various manufacturers that somewhat resembled people. At 95dB efficiency they were a good match for the Woo amps that work with a variety of low power tubes in SET mode. Think 300B, 2A3 and 45 power tubes. The whole system was $41,000.

I have a few more rooms to go, including one of the most impressive rigs I've ever heard. If you're going to Denver, be sure to wear some flowers in your hair. Oh, wait... that was San Francisco, 1967.

 

---> Rick Becker's NYAS 2014 part 4.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

     
 

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