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Stereophile Show -- Home Entertainment 2007 Hi-Fi and Home Theater Event
Stereophile Show - PRIMEDIA Home Entertainment 2007 Audiophile and Videophile Event
Report By Rick Becker
Click here to e-mail reporter.

Tempo Sales and Marketing put together a very fine sounding room with Nagra electronics, including the unique pyramid shape PMA monoblock shown here with a Verity Audio loudspeaker. They also played to my heart with their green acoustical room treatments.

I've become a lot more appreciative of the acoustic excellence of the Hyperion loudspeakers now after many shows. The pointy spikes between the mid/tweeter and bass modules still make me a little nervous, though. The loudspeakers were bi-amplified with four of Hyperion's new A45 tube, single ended, 25 watt all Class A monoblocks at $4500/pr. While not big on cosmetics, these amps could sing. My eye also caught a set of four Magnetic Floater footers in a box on silent display that go for $90. It made me wonder why they were not using these footers under the monoblocks. I suspect there is even better sound yet to be wrung from this system.

I had an absolutely fascinating experience talking with Dan Herrington, designer of Proclaim Audioworks' DMT-100 loudspeakers. Each driver is mounted in a sphere and suspended in air by articulated adjustable arms, somewhat akin to the equipment your dentist uses. This flexibility allows for precise set-up relative to the room as well as relative to each other. The external crossover allows for further balancing of the stereo image. Once optimum setting has been determined, the settings can be fixed, or the unit can be used as tone controls by adjusting the variable L-pads. All this flexibility is priceless if your room requires your loudspeakers to be placed in asymmetric positions, such as with a wall to the right, but not to the left. I've often been amazed at the variety of positioning of drivers on the multitude of loudspeaker designs. Once a design is fixed, however, it forces you to maximize that design with your room placement of the loudspeaker. With the DMT-100, you can pretty much put them where you want, then manipulate the positioning of the drivers and adjust the crossover to suit the interface with the room. Brilliant! Provided you can deal with the contemporary aesthetic. At $26K/pr you receive professional set up. And should your decorator demand, the stands and balls are available in custom colors. A center channel is also available. Of course when confronted by such original thinking, I completely forgot to ask about impedance and sensitivity, or for that matter, to even notice the provisions for speaker cabling — or what was in the rest of the system. I do recall that it sounded very good, however.

Gini Systems, importers of the Chinese Audio Space line had two major introductions. The first was what they claimed to be the world's first truly balanced 300B tube preamplifier, the Reference 2, using four 300B tubes and including an all-tube phono stage for both MM and MC cartridges ($9900). And the second was the new Reference 3 monoblock amplifier putting out 26 watts, Class A, with a 300B-845 tube combination for $7800/pr. I caught these on my video notes, but forgot to get still photos. Please accept my apology.

I must have been forgetting to drink my Mt. Dew, because the same thing happened in the Zu Cable and Loudspeaker room. Sounding very transparent and dynamic was a $3400 two-way gloss black floorstander being driven by a 15-watt monoblocks. The Mk IV version of the Druid model features a 10.3” full range driver at the top of the column and their new Zu T1 Super Tweeter mounted directly below it. With 101dB/W/m efficiency and nominal 12-Ohm impedance it is easily driven by low powered tube amplifiers as was clearly demonstrated for the enthusiastic crowd in the room. I had to pinch myself and return to the room again on the second day to double check my initial impression. There was a lot of buzz about this room, and the earlier models have received rave reviews in the press. I can understand why. The music was so captivating (when they finally stopped talking and played some) that I not only forgot to take photos, but I neglected to note any of the other equipment in the rig, save for the aforementioned tube monoblocks. Take that as a significant clue. Zu also has a center loudspeaker with super tweeters on each side of the full range driver, so you have no excuse for not using their products in a full surround system.

I wandered into room 1627 and found a lot of lecturing being done, with a little comparison of two pairs of loudspeakers. I couldn't figure out what was being offered for sale here. Then I noticed a lot of test equipment at the back of the room rather than literature. I checked the show program and discovered I was in one of the special Listening and Measurements Workshops. As much as I wanted to hang out and learn something here, as I'm sure a lot of men did, I had a mission to fulfill, with little time to spare. If I had had three days at the show, for sure I would have hung around longer.

Then, as if the show were one big science fair, I stumbled into the first of two nearly identical rooms. Fortunately, I hit the room without the acoustical treatment first, and didn't know what I was getting into. The room sounded pretty damn good as it was, using the new all-tube VAC Alpha Integrated amplifier ($10K) putting out 100wpc to drive a pair of very handsome Talon Thunderhawk loudspeakers ($25K) in a custom grey finish with ceramic drivers. It was easy to discern the room echo, but I did not find that annoying or even unpleasant. The front end was a Wadia 581i Disc Player ($9450) and cables were by XLO, including their Argentum power strip with Neverhum technology.  Silent Running Audio had their very affordable Tremor/Less rack and amp stand (as well as their $6K+ Craz Reference isoRACK plus in the treated room). Moving across the hall I discovered a treated room with a rig similar to the one I had just come from. I say “similar”, because in order to take advantage of the Rives Sub-PARC, a combination cross-over/parametric equalizer/digital amplifier, it was necessary to employ three VAC Alphas and the loudspeakers were bi-amplified — not quite apples & apples. The room was also decorated with various RPG Variscreens ($700 ea.) and Modex Plates ($1000) that are specifically designed to absorb low frequencies in the 50Hz to 500Hz range. I can't say the room was pretty, but it sure sounded cleaner. Nor can I say that the music playing, which was the same in both rooms, was any more emotionally involving — something to consider when spending big bucks. (I liked the music playing at the time, btw). Nonetheless, Rives is to be commended for going to the trouble and expense of this demonstration. It's a jungle out there, and you never know when some of this technology will be needed to solve a problem in a given room. At the very least the demonstration illustrated the value of room treatments and by extension, suggested the value of tweaks to individual components.

Moscode announced the pending arrival of their 402P integrated amplifier sometime this fall, but the notice was sitting on their 401HR tube hybrid stereo power amplifier. Maybe it will be shown in Denver?

Salagar Sonics burst onto the scene with their S210 teardrop stand mounted monitors. The system was minimalist with a CD player feeding a Benchmark DAC 1 that does double duty as a preamplifier with a high current analog output stage capable of driving long cables. This is good because the amplifiers are B&O ICE Class D power modules integrated with the crossovers inside the loudspeakers... or rather one loudspeaker acting as a master and the other powered loudspeaker acting as a slave. The loudspeakers come in mirror-imaged pairs and can be customized with wood veneers or painted finishes, as well as a choice of driver surrounds on the face. While not a small monitor, it is very gracefully designed and well integrated with the custom stands. As an active monitor, you will need to run a power cord from each loudspeaker, but at $7500/pr. you will not have to spend money on a power amplifier.


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