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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 4

At the other end of the Brighton Beach room, on silent display at the moment, was this visually stunning combination of Acoustic Arts monoblock in chrome and anodized silver and a Legacy Aeris speaker in an equally stunning candy apple red finish over what looked like a burl veneer. My only previous exposure to this highly acclaimed speaker with its dual air motion tweeter and open baffle midrange was a rig that was experiencing disastrous problems with the wiring. I hope someday I get to hear it when everything is going right, as I expect it was in this room with the Acoustic Arts gear from Germany. Perhaps you were so lucky.


It was after 7pm, but I was able to stick my head into the Naim room to grab a photo of the $240,000 preamp/power amp system that was debuting in New York. Large floor standing Focal speakers were the recipient of the signal, but unfortunately, the rig was in standby, sleeping for the night. Perhaps Iíll meet them again at TAVES?


I was lucky enough to bump into Louis Manno of the Audio History Library and Museum for the second time today. He wanted to tell me more about the display case full of historical audio artifacts I had seen upon arriving at the show. The door to the registration area was locked, but Louis guided me down the hall, around the corner, through the Menís Room and into the foyer where his display stood. He plugged it in so I could take some photos and gave me his one minute pitch as to why the Museum, currently housed in New Jersey, should be brought to New York City. The City, he argues, has one million school children. Lower Manhattan has five schools that specifically train sound engineers. Within a 50 mile radius there are 50 universities, colleges, trade schools, music conservatoriesóall related to music and its reproduction in some way. And then there are the visitors to New York that number in the millions each year.

Turning my attention to the display, Louis also pointed out the mechanical amplifier first used in 1900 that was used in the early telephones. Both the receiver you held up to your ear and the horn mounted in a box, into which you spoke, contained one of these. The rest of the telephone, as Louis said, is furniture. I remember talking through one of these while sitting on my grandmotherís lap when I was a very small boy. We were on a party line, shared with several neighbors, who could unscrupulously listen in if they wanted. Now, the government and the internet have taken over that role. Next to the mechanical amplifier was a Bang & Olufsen ICE amplifier. A century separates the development of these two. The first vacuum tube amplifier patented for use in a long distance telephone was developed by Austrian physicist Robert Von Lieben and manufactured in Berlin in 1912. There was also a steel 78rpm record manufactured during WW II and an early Ortofon cartridge with the letters ESL etched on the top. Even more interesting was an intricate electrostatic horn driver developed by Josef Merhaut. And this was just a sampling of what the museum holds.

I wandered into the Madison Fielding room with its speakers disguised as planters with flowers, driven by a Parasound amplifier. Later, in the hall, I met the host, Art Powers Jr. Steven R. Rochlin's photo of their display in his photo section was posted earlier, and I believe Steve has even reviewed these speakers.


Continuing to poke around, someone mentioned there was still music playing in the MBL room, so I wandered over. At the Canadian shows MBL typically exhibits in a rather small room that might seat two rows of eight chairs. The music they play is typically classical or at least with unamplified instruments, more recently sourced from a server...so itís not like I can hand them a CD and ask them to rock out. This room was something else, with maybe six rows of eight chairs, tall ceilings and ample room for a collection of their Reference Series components. It was at least six times the volume of their room at the Montreal show. The speakers looked to be the 101E MKII ($70,000) powered by the massive 9011 monoblocks ($106,000/pr.) that require four men to move safely. They weigh 198 pounds each and have a 19Ē x 36Ē footprint. They start out rated at 440 watts into 8 Ohms continuous power and proceed up to 5000 watts peak pulse power into 2 Ohms. But even more impressive is their A-weighted S/N ratio of 118dB, which improves to 123dB if youíre using them in stereo form (where the power ratings drop significantly, but sometimes quality is more significant that brute quantity). The 6010D Reference preamp was $26,500 and it was augmented with the Reference transport (about $28,000) and the 1611 F Reference DAC (about $28,700). So it was around $260,000 plus cables, which could have been... God knows how much. But that doesnít really matter. People who buy gear at this level are ultra-wealthy. What mattered for me in the 15 to 20 minutes I was in the room was the musical experience. Iím not sure of the source, as there was a guy fiddling with an iPad and nobody seemed to be playing with any of the gear. There were maybe a dozen of us in the room, most of us physically grooving to what seemed like a live recording of Led Zeppelin played at high volume, easily 100dB, higher on the peaks. It was extraordinarily focused, transparent, dynamic, holographic and musically involving... unless you donít really like rock music, but all those people had already left. Nobody left the room during this performance. It was an event. An event that came as close as Iíve ever heard a recording come to live rock music. Except you didnít have the room tone generated by thousands of people in an auditorium or stadium, or music coming from stacks of beat-up speakers that have been trucked thousands of miles from one continent to another. In that regard, it was even better than live. And the music moved me.

But all good things must come to an end, so when Led Zeppelin ended and was replaced with rap music, I left the room. I pondered camping out on some Long Island beach for the night, but ultimately voted for going home. I missed a few of the larger rooms that were undoubtedly covered by others. Such is life. The furniture show beckons me this coming weekend, and after that is the TAVES show where I get to spend two days doing it all over again. Besides, hitting my own mattress at 3am after driving home isnít much different than staying up 'til 2am writing these pages. Hope you had a great time at RMAF if you went; see you in Toronto if youíre going. Safe journey.  


---> Back to main New York Audio Show 2014 page.













































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