I spoke with Frank
Fazzalari of Coherent Speakers
in Hamilton, Ontario. His coincident design Model 15 ($10K CDN) uses a 3"
dome midrange crossed over to a 15" woofer at 600Hz and was easily driven by
a 22 wpc McAlister single ended
amplifier that was more than enough for this 97dB efficient speaker. The
speakers were isolated with his Oreo sandwich footers of wood and sorbothane.
Very nice smooth sound here that was easy to listen to.
I exchanged my annual nod with Raysonic and listened to some very transparent and crisp
music. The new Raysonic CD168
vacuum tube CD player ($2800) converts 24-bit/192kHz with Burr-Brown chips but
was on silent display, deferring to their CD228 ($4600) in the
active system. Like most of their CD players, it features both single ended
and balanced outputs. Their large Tube Monoblock Reference 23 with eight KT88 tubes each (100 wpc,
triode push-pull) were driving B&W
802 with diamond tweeters to very good effect. The Raysonic room is
consistently so good year after year that I sometimes forget to mention that
it is among the Best Rooms at the show.
electronics, XLO cables and Klipsch
loudspeakers teamed up in one room, but it was the Thorens TD 309 turntable on silent display that stole the show
for me. This interesting table with its unique plinth reminded me of vintage
watch from the '60s. The table represents the first new era design from
Thorens with a number of unique features. The plinth is suspended in the
vertical direction, and the motor itself is suspended in the vertical
direction by what looks like a speaker cone. In the photo it is off center
because the platter is removed. The aluminum cylinder on the left corner is a
counter-balance weight used to level the table. It is a belt drive, obviously,
and costs $2000 including the TP 92 arm. The host mentioned that Thorens has
been in business for 127 years, but I wouldn’t let him pull the wool over my
eyes. 1883? That pre-dates recorded music on records! He finally confided in
me that they began making music boxes — a few years before my antique high
wheel bicycle was built.
The music in this room was coming through a $20K pair of Klipsch
speakers (99dB efficient) driven by a 75 wpc Cyrus integrated
amplifier with a built-in DAC that was fed by a Cyrus transport. These were
definitely not your father’s Klipsch speakers, though a browse through their
website tells that the Klipschorn, LaScala and Cornwall survive in updated versions. The subwoofer shown in the photo was not hooked
up in this hotel room. A Linn
Magic DS 1 all-in-one box was playing FLAC files through a pair of stand
mounted monitors. "Keep it Simple" was the motto, here.
had a couple of rooms that were interesting. The first ran A/B comparisons of
built-in speakers on a flat screen TV with their Soundbar 3000 IHT ($500) that
included wireless transmission to a small subwoofer that could be placed
anywhere in the room. It was obviously superior and something to consider for
your mother-in-law, or even yourself if you don’t watch much more than the
news, the Super Bowl and the Final Four on TV. It was a huge improvement and
In their other room they shot themselves in the foot with a
modest, minimalist attempt at a stereo rig. Paired with the high-end Yamaha
integrated amplifier ($2000) and CD player ($2000) was a stand mounted pair of
RTI series monitors ($400). Unfortunately, there was no component rack,
isolation devices or AC filtering. A handful of tweaks might have transformed
the system and given show goers something to think about.
I stepped willingly into a Focal
room with a home theater rig with a set of red, round-ish monitors
attached high on poles near the corners of the room. I grasped the concept and
moved over to their other room where they had their 30th
Anniversary floorstanders ($3800) driven by a Moon
13.3 Integrated amplifier and CD 3.3 CD player. The 30th
Anniversary model uses the same midrange cone driver as their larger models.
With a V-shaped grille that exposed the tweeter at the top of the column the
styling reminded me of the Pathos integrated amp. This is certainly a very
smart looking contemporary design.
Cranking it up a couple of notches in the next room was a
high-end Focal stand mounted monitor driven by Simaudio
Moon CD player and integrated
amplifier decked out in glossy red paint and black chrome fascia (or was that
just gloss black paint?) Definitely high end bling, here. I know bling when I
see it, but hey — if it raises the SOAF (significant other acceptance
factor), perhaps it will stand a better chance of being allowed in the house.
The music sounded a little dead here, but it might well have been the
particular music at the time.
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