Best sound at Stereophile show.

I got to rate the Dynaudio room as the best sounding Room. They used the Dynaudio C4 speakers which listed for 16,000. All I can say is, they sounded incredible. They sound very smooth with an amazing soundstage. Bass was really good.

I also liked the Gamut Room. Gamut used probably the largest Amp I'v ever seen. The Amp weighed 400 pounds. Speakers were the Pipedreams with the Gamut CD Player. The system sounded very 3 dimentional with a good bass response. I also got to thank Ole Lund Christensen. He's the designer of Gamut. He played by far the best music. He played upbeat classical, where you could judge the midrange and bass of the speakers. He also played brick in the wall by Pink Floyd. I felt to many rooms played to much Jazz and violin music, where you just couldn't judge the speakers. Also, Ole played what ever CD you gave him.

I also loved the Wilson Watt Puppies 7. What totally amazed me. Wilson played alot of the time, the Watt Puppies 7 with the massive Wilson Sub. I thought that Sub would totally boom up the bass on the Watt Puppies. But it was the exact opposite. The Wilson Sub blended in so perfectly with the Wilson Watt Puppy 7 speakers.

I also liked the Tact room. They had those new Tact speakers that must have been 7 feet tall. They sounded great.

Most amazing home theater performance had to be in the Audio Video Creations room. They used a Pioneer 50 inch Plasma TV. Krell multichannel Amps, Krell Preamp processor, Krell DVD Player, Piega speakers and Piega Sub. They played clips from Jurassic Park and Matrix. Holy Moley did this system sound unbelievable. It was so incredible sounding.

Another thing that really impressed me. In the NAD room, one of the people there downloaded a Jewel peformance from the Jay Leno show on High Definition TV. They downloaded the Jewel performance to a hard drive, then transferred it to a DVD recorder. This picture quality was amazing. It was so perfect the picture.

I also really liked this Antique Sound Headphone Amp with Senheiser headphones. It listed for 1200 dollars. You could also used this as a preamp. The Antique Headphone Amp used 2A3 Tubes. It sounded so perfect and could go very loud without breaking up. Plus it had that nice tube sound.

Also alot of the designers were really nice. I mentioned Ole. Al from Dynaudio, Mark O'brien from Rougue Audio, Dale Fontenot from Roman Audio speakers, Alan Yun from Silverline, Tash Goka from Divergent technologies and Gilbert Young from Blue Circle were really good guys.
Best sound to my ears were Joseph Audio/ Manley, Wilson/VTL,Gamut/Pipedreams.
Not nessecarily in this order,Roman/Plinius,Spectron/Von Schweikert (if there was just emough true DSD transfers done correctly in multichannnel it would really be terrific)Lamn/Kharma,Merlin/Joule and for a small setup that does not cost and arm and a leg the Bluec circle room with the (I cannot remember the name of the speakers) but at their price point the sound was great.Most of the bigger rooms were actualy not as impressive as some of the 12x12s and some outrightly a dissapointment.
My 5 favorites were Gamut/Pipedreams, Tenor/Pipedreams, Wilson/VTL, Joseph/Manley (where was the air conditioning?), and Harvey/Martin Logan, in that order. I also heard Hugh Masekela's Coal Train (on the Hope album) used twice for demo, in Gamut/Pipedreams and Calix (on their big let's-get-divorced horn speakers played on a VYGER table that looked like an offshore oil rig). It was great; I had to go buy the disc.
jameswei, can you tell me more about the Harvey/Martin Logan set up please? Which amps models and which ML speakers were used?
Jameswei,since the Nearfield site is not up yet, could you please tell me more about the Tenor/Pipedreams system.
Where two Tenor amps really enough to drive the speakers and did they need a sub woofer and in case they did, what amp was used for the sub? Or were the Tenor enough to drive even the bass?
Sorry for my stupid questions, but since the Nearfield site is not ready yet, I have no way to help myself answering these questions.
Best sound was in Dynaudio room.
"Opera Sauvage" loudspeakers from Gershman Acoustics, with Kora amplfiers. Oh, those loudspeakers!
Did anyone attending the show hear the Meridian DVD-audio/Piega room, and can you comment on the sound.
Very partial to Room #705 (Music Hall). The EPOS M-15 floorstanders with the new CREEK 5000 series amp & the Music Hall 7 turntable. Very sweet.
Is there anyone was with me in Gamut room when Whole Lotta love was played?
Let me tell you that I've never heard Led Zeppelin sound so damn great on red-book CD! I wanted to stay even longer in that room to listen to the whole Led Zeppelin II albume.
I also listened to L.Cohen's Democracy prior to LZ.
Twilo mentioned that most of the rooms were playing jazz and classical but to me the didn't prove that they can realy rock and swing the air.
Certainly I rate the GAMUT room #1

The second on the list is Joseph/Manley. I believe that this system able to reproduce nearly anything you wish from heavy metal to baroque but I still wished to listen to some overdriven guitars or heavy drums(like Bonham).

And the third is certainly Totem. I'm the proud owner of Totem Forest speakers that are the perfect match for the small room systems and have an outstanding 3d and dissapearance effect and they're jsut perfect for the type of music I'm listening to. Model1 Signature monitors were as impressive as Forests. I was a-bit dissapointed that there were no Wind.
Flex, to tell the truth I cannot describe anyhow Piega/Meridian DVD-audio room since there were not any great possibility to listen to the music due to the extraneous noise comming from open doors. I felt that bottom end is being dissapeared ore canseled out(room reflections?) or it's just the speaker mutual interaction?
Anyway I've just left too quick so not to loose my time untill they play it on more quiet surrounding or maybe it was worth to play it more loud.

Would anyone also make a comment about it even from different shows/listening rooms as well if possible.

The worst sound I've heard there in NYH were MBL(speakers) that aren't capable to produce any kind of music and made me nocious. Despite this I was listening for them quite a while to get an idea what kind of music matches well these speakers and I realized that if you change one letter M to J you will basically get the same thing.
Thanks for your response Marakentz!
Tekunda, about the 7' Pipedreams in the Clinton Room - the Tenors powered the midrange/tweeter towers and a large Plinius amp powered the 4 18" woofer cyclinders (two per side). The sources were a custom analog rig of Tenor's own design and the Audio Aero Capitole II CDP. Tenor also powered the new Chesky C1 speakers on the sixth floor, and the remote demo (on West 86th ST) of the Talon Khorus-X.
The Dynaudio C4's/Naim Electronics was easily the best sound at the show. Runner up would be the Joseph/Manley room. The most important impression I got from the Wilson room was how much better the music sounded from whatever turntable they were using as compared to whatever digital source they were using. Finally, the best budget sound at the show was the Divergent Room, running Antique Sound Labs into the Heavenly Reference 3A DeCapo i's. Runner up and award for the nicest representative from a company was easily the man in the Totem room. Last but not least, the best sound from a budget/unknown speaker was the DeVore Gibbon 8's running from $15,000+ VTL electronics. Kind of defeats the purpose of a budget speaker. Thanks for reading.
The Clinton room did not have the production Audio Aero Capitole MKII.This was the prototype used in the Frankfurt show.Though there was some seriously expensive equipment in the room,money doesn't nesecarely buy great sound.
Here is the opinion of a seasoned audiophile (20 years) who is not deaf and ownes a high resolution analogue system in a dedicated room (the room and set up being the most important components)- Best sounds in no particular order:
Lamm / Kharma
Acoustic Dreams Lumen White / Vaic
Verity Parsifal Encore / Nagra
Tenor / Pipedreams
Eggleston Savoy / CAT
Joseph Audio / Manley

Most dissapointing was the Airfoil and Viola rooms. The scariest thing was that Anthony DiSalvo of Viola (formally Cello ?) appeared to be proud of the demo.
The Harvey/Martin Logan room featured a 5.1 channel setup with what I am guessing on memory to have been Odyssey mains in front plus a Theater center channel and Aeon or Scenario surrounds. I think the sub was a ML Descent. These were driven by a couple racks worth of McIntosh electronics. I'm sorry I didn't retain the model numbers.

The Tenor/Pipedreams system is amply described in Arooj's post above. (Thank you!) I would only add that the Pipedreams treble/midrange towers are relatively efficient at 94-95 db sensitivity and are compatible with a lot of tube amps. The woofers are inefficient and should typically be mated to amps rated at hundreds of watts per channel.

I thought the Viola room was pretty impressive myself.
Interesting comments. One thing I can't understand is Marakanetz's remarks on the MBLs. I thought MBL had possibly the best sound at the show and another friend who's ears I trust felt the same. I really relaxed and simply enjoyed the music in that room -- not to mention that the amps and other MBL gear are strikingly beautiful. It may have been a bit heavy in the bass, but not really over the top. I wish I could afford the stuff! I thought the midrange and high frequency reproduction was close to ideal.

The Gamut/Pipedreams system was possibly okay, but I couldn't stay long enough to make a fair evaluation. The man controlling the system, said straight out that he was going to crank the volume whether or not anyone objected, and when he hit my personal threshold of pain and the room overloaded ridiculously I high-tailed it out of there along with a few other audiophiles who were similarly appalled at his lunacy and lack of good judgement. What an idiot!

Unfortunately I never made it into the Joseph Audio/Manley room and from what others have posted, it sounds like that was one of the best. Of what I did hear, I liked the Roman Audio Centurion speakers, which did some amazing things for the cello; the Rogue audio electronics on the Medowlark Blue Herrons was quite good; and my personal favorite, because it was actually affordable and put many more expensive systems to shame, was the $1800/pr Gershman Chameleon speakers powered by a 60 Wpc Kora integrated amp. Man, did that modest little sound great!

I was also very impressed by that crazy Calix horn system using that extra-terrestrial VYGER turntable. That system presented awesome dynamic contrasts with excellent immediacy and low distortion. It kicked!
I'm surprised that nobody has mentioned the Lamm
Utopia DCS system. Far and away the most beautiful sound I heard all weekend.
Carl, I agree, I thought that was the best sound I heard. A too-brief and tightly controlled demo, unfortunately. For the size of the those speakers, what impressed me most was how lifelike and natural and engaging the solo piano sounded.

Man, there sure was a lot of dCS gear at this show!
Plato, My two friends and I were at the show together and agree with you. We kept returning to the MBL room. The MBL speakers continue to have problems with bass integration every time I hear them. The bass isn't up to the rest of the system. Perhaps that because what's up from there is in a class of it's own? Despite this we found the sound easy and natural with no sense of impending fatigue. My favorite room just ahead of TacT. Marakanetz, I can only say that we must have very!!! different biases as we don't seem to agree on much.
Ears are so damn different but some electronics/speakers can please the largest ear crowd, some of them are controversal like MBL! To me(not to offend anyone here) MBL reproduced the worst I've ever heard listening Ozzy Ozbourne; LedZep's Rock-n-Roll wasn't forwarded enough and dynamics were backed up big time. Along with that I've heard just pure screaming. The bass reproduction was only successful on Rap. I was not too impressed from Pipe Dreams rather than being impressed from Gamut electronics.
Interesting, when we were at the MBL room we heard mostly acoustic music, blues and classical. The people running the demonstration were kind enough to let the system speak for itself without interupting with a lot of sales chatter. The audience was politely silent and obviously reveling in the sound.
I cannot say that I listen to only the hard rock or overdriven guitars but in my opinion if the speakers can't follow the rock guitar slams(i.e. slow) won't suit the music that I listen to. MBL in these terms are handycapped pedestrians. I like "BMW" type better. And indeed maybe for blues it's good enough to be a pedestrian but not for 300 drum hits per minute rhythms! The demo guys were always taking proposals from the listeners(which is nice) but I've never found anything I've asked to play sound right.
MBL transport/dac with different speakers/amps(dyna??/Plinius 8200) I've heard much more successfull and probably 10x cheaper.
Well Marakanetz, I guess we'll just have to agree to disagree on the MBL's. Everything they played when I visited sounded quite good and natural to me and I was familiar with a couple of the selections. For you to say that they had the worst sound at the show based on how poorly it reproduced Ozzie Osbourne really makes me chuckle. :)

Unsound, thank you for your comments -- I'm with you on this one.
I also wanted to mention the Innersound room. The Innersound electrostatics using the Innersound amp and the Smart Theatre amp 2X150VT Hybrid Power Amplifier.
They were also using a Dat player. The speakers sounded very open with a layered type midrange. The bass was really good. By the way, did anyone hear the reproduction Classic speakers in the Atmosphere room. There horn speakers. Those speakers sounded horrible. I also didn't like the Eggleston speakers with the Manley tube amps. The system sounded way to bright.
I finally heard the Montana EP speakers. They use 2 8 inch Scanspeak woofers, 2 5 inch Scanspeak Kelvar midbase drivers and the Scanspeak tweeter inbetween the Kelvar midbases. I heard them on this cool looking Swiss amp called Dartzeel amp. I was so disappointed with them. The Montana's sounded to bright. It was obvious, those Scanspeak Kelvar midbase drivers aren't good. I would love to hear these speakers with the 5 inch Scanspeak Revalator midbase. Those Scanspeak Kelvar midbase drivers have got to go. The Focal Kelvar midbase is superior then the Scanspeak Kelvar midbase. Scanspeak makes amazing paper drivers and there new Revalator midbase, which i heard on the tact speakers sounded great. Montana must get rid of these Scanspeak Kelvar drivers and use the new Revalator midbase drivers.
After reading through all the posts I think its easy to agree on one thing: the perfect speaker does not exist.
The opinions are not even close on agreeing what the best sound was at the show.
Look at the MBL speakers, some say it was just awful, some say it was one of the best rooms. How is this possible
Any idea why the opinions can differ that much? Has it only to do with perception or personal taste, or what other reasons could it be?
I heard the LumenWhite - Vaic setup once, great components, great speakers, but far too civilized, too lean for my taste. I have to have speakers which present the music with a certain weight and authority.
BTw, I did not visit the show, so anybody knows if they had Soundlab electrostats at the show?
Tekunda, you pose an intriguing question, "How can opinions on sound quality differ so much?" Of course it depends on one's listening biases, his/her individual hearing curve, and familiarity (like or disdain) for the particular music being played. Even one's own past listening experience comes into play. I think folks tend not to like presentations that are radically different from what they hear from their personal systems, even if the radical differences are for the better. Having attended my fair share of audiophile demonstrations, I know, first-hand, that it is not uncommon for 'philes to totally disagree on whether what they have heard was good or bad. Interestingly, they usually agreed on what they had heard -- but some would like it and others would not. I used to say that if musicians were playing live behind a curtain, that half the audiophiles in the room would swear that the sound was totally unnatural and inaccurate. It seems to be the nature of the beast.

The only reason that I even posted about the MBLs was because the other fellow who posted insisted that they had the "worst" sound at the show. That just seemed too far left of center for me to ignore. If he had merely said he disliked them I could have let that lie. But he is entitled to his opinion -- as are we all.

Even if there were such a thing as a "perfect speaker," there would be those who would insist it was flawed and not to their liking. Of that, I am entirely certain. :)
I felt that overall the best sound of the show was the Wilson/ VTL room. The setup was perfectly suited to the room. Also, Mr. Wilson probably personally set this room up as he did (as I understand) at this years CES.

I have never been quite sure about the base output of the WP 6's. The 7's bass is probably a little better. But this setup included the Pow-WOW sub. It really worked well to smooth out the whole sonic picture. Basicly, the speaker did not have to work as hard.

The sound was sweet, liquid, smooth ans incredibly fast!!

This is the only speaker demo I have ever heard that actually sounded truly...a - live. How do they do that? Really. What drivers and technology are being used to achieve this? BTW, I am not a Wilson fan but I am fascinated by my experience.
Plato, again we agree. One of my friends (a musician) was sucked into any room that could be heard playing jazz. Avnut , we also liked the Wilson room very much.
Minor correction: the sub in the Wilson room is called the Watchdog.

If I ever buy Wilson speakers, I want David Wilson setting them up in my home. I wonder if anyone else can get as much out of them as he does. Not to mention he gives a great demo (could have done without the Billy Ocean cut, however; it was too loud).
Let's twist the question.

We always say what was best, which is subjective and possibly not even attainable. Instead, what surprised you the most and was something you could live with? I agree that the vonSchweikert sounded great, but how would it sound at low volume in your system? Roy Hall's Epos sounded nice. And, I liked what I heard from 10 others. But, I was completely floored by Meadowlark's new Swift speaker. It will take a lot to beat this 995 marvel! The floor is re-opened.
HaHa Cellover!!! try to turn on Pipedreams quiet and make a judgement!
I assume that it all depends on speakers' dynamic curve: some are more revealing at the low volume levels and less pleasant at high volume levels and some speakers are just the other way arround in general.
I judge the speakers to be able to reproduce the volume level of a real live music with ability not to create fatigue inside the room walls.

I always test speakers on the following scale:

-- acoustic guitar (on the level how it has to sound live)
-- than piano
-- than sax, percussion or any small jazz band or instrumental band
-- drum or percussion solo to check imaging and bass depth along with the speed.
-- than slammy electric rock guitar to check if it's dynamic and fast enough to take it.
-- symphony orchestra test(Symphony #5 Beethoven as an example) is the one that i refuse to do since if I did than I wouldn't buy any speaker that I can afford. Besides I'm through with classical music and have very limited collection since there is no limitation on spending bucks on different performances and releases every time -- much cheaper and more reasonable to visit them live from time-to-time:)

Most of the demands in my system are small bands, instrumental jazz and sophisticated electronic music.
But I love anything that I can call music and that can be a big bunch of a different kinds.

Certainly I did not try to dictate this test sequence on the show rooms of NYH since seats and time was very limited and I believe that there were not only I at the show.
Let me rephrase it. Forget trying to figure out what was best. What surprised you and why? Or, what did you hear that you didn't expect to? This is not analytical. It is about what you liked.
The reason so much variety of opinion is most of people who attend these shows are ony hobbyists and therefore not experience or competent to judge. That include orginal poster. It not that "ears are all different." It that most have no idea how/what to listen for and have no qualification. Hobbyist does not = competant or qualified.

One persin that does "get it" is czapp. Grand Utopia/Lamm set up ony one at show that remotly soun like live, intead of canned, music.
Kevinkwann, are you suggesting that manufacuters are marketing equipment to compentant, qualified judges and not to hobbyist? Who cerifies these "experts"? Who determines the criterion? Do you think that these "experts" could carry the tab for all the rooms at the NY Hilton? This forum is designed for hobbyist to do exactly what you seem to be objecting to. I think that most hobbyist realize that this type of venue is inappropriate to make any real judgements and are only sharing their impressions cognitive of the compromised situation.
Thank goodness we have a real expert amongst us now :-)

I find the differences of opinion not only refreshing, but insightful. The discussions of why there are such varied opinions has taught me a lot more than the show reports that show up in the magazines. Anything lost because the people on this forum aren't "experts" is made up in the fact that there's not a lot of reason for commercial bias. And, FWIW, I consider many of the people who post here to be on "expert" par with many of the reviewers I read. -Kirk

Does anyone else feel this way or is it just me? It seems the bigger the speaker the lousier the sound. For me, best sound at the show for the second year in a row was the Legend speaker driven by their Nirvana tube monoblocks. I heard incredibly real, almost organic, liquid sound out of these small speakers.

On the other hand, every horn speaker (and they were all big) sounded very colored, very honky. Also, huge dynamic systems like those demonstrated by Dynaudio, Viola, Airfoil, and Pipedreams were, at best, average sounding.

I'd say the somewhat large speakers by Piega and Joseph Audio were terrific. The Joseph speaker was wonderful playing "St.James Infirmery" by Louis Armstrong. The Innersound electrostatic ranks as well.

As for video, why do exhibitors insist on showing noisy and explosive blockbuster scenes? The Krell video presentation gave me a headache. I found the rooms showing musical fare like the Eagles and Talking Heads videos much more revealing of audio quality. A dramatic scene highlighting spoken voice would also be demonstrative of true audio quality. And while we're on video, I think animated films are cheating a bit. The real way to determine video quality is in judging fleshtone accuracy. In this regard, the Loewe flat screen direct tube monitor was stunning.

All in all, I liked the show but exhibitors need to stop being so juvenile with their software choices. And bigger is not necessarily better.

Finally, did anyone catch "Dave's True Story" live performance on Friday? Wow, I'm in love with Kelly Flint!
I thought the Dynaudio and Phoenix horns were the best sounding. The Dynaudio (powered by the Naim electronics) had a palpable sense of air, space and a huge soundstage. The Phoenix horns (tied with the MBLs for the butt-ugliest speakers I've ever seen) sounded fabulous with a realism in sound I've not quite heard before.

Was not at all impressed with the Pipedreams (average sounding) or the Kharmas (thin and simply awful). While room acoustics may have something to do with this, I think it plays a very small part.
I don't know about the biggest being the worst, but I will agree that I did not hear one "horn" that I remotely enjoyed.
By the way, did anyone see those new Sony speakers. They looked like clones of BW speakers. They were not bad sounding and had a really nice cabinet.
Which room?
I wish i heard these speakers. I didn't realize Mission had ultra high end speakers there. They cost 35,000 dollars. Did anyone hear these Mission speakers. Here's a pic of them and a description of them.
Well I must say that I truly enjoyed the show this year! Best sound at the show?? Hard to tell, but I can say that I did hear quite a few rooms with good to very good sound.
Here is my list (no special order of preference)...

Viola Audio Labs (room 706)
AudioPhysics Virgo ll (room 727)
Graham Engineering (room 731)
Von Schweikert (725)
InnerSound Eros (644) blew me away!!!
Merlin Music Systems (622)
PipeDreams (614)
Dynaudio C4 (Concourse B)
Joseph Audio..Pearl (4th floor)....impressive
Rockport Tech (4th floor)
Wilson Watt Puppy 7 (2nd floor)....however didn't like them demoed with the sub and I have heard the 6's last year at the show (blew me away) and then at a dealer (sounded awful)
ran out of space....

VPI's new TNT (sharp)!
Tenor & Pipes...

All in all I had a great time (great cigar bar up the block)!

But the best was yet to come. When I got home on Saturday night I fired up the old trust worthy Infinity RS 1-B's and I was delightfully surprised! Not, not bad for a 20 year old speaker. There's still life in them!

Regards all!!!
Rwd- Talk about 20 year old speakers. I heard a pair of highly tweeked Infinity 4.5's and IRS Series 5. Thanks Bill Legal of MillerSound. Can you believe that Bill has 2 pair of the IRS 5's!! I must say the 5's were the best sound I heard on this trip including the systems heard at the show many of which you included. Of course Bill has had ample time to perform his unique brand of magic. The IRS 5's, talk about a disappearing act, realistic images, resolving and timbral accuracy. This system got closer to live sound than anything I've heard in recent memory. Only one small problem, I didn't want to leave.

The finale in the Joseph room "St James Infirmiry" was spellbinding. If anyone wonders why Joseph Audio does so well in the voting for Best of Show me guess is a well presented demo with good music. My biggest gripe with most of the rooms was some of the music being played, too much audiophile stuff and not enough variety. Conspiciously absent was full orchestral demos. Wonder why? I also throughly enjoyed the Merlin Room with the Joule amps, room 623. I should qualify these comments since I own Merlins but the sound was very refined and involving, just like at home. No the Berning ZH 270 amp doesn't best the Joules but it certainly does things the Joule doesn't and ditto for the Joules. Bobby was playing a Nancy Wilson recording and she sure enough was there all right.

Was very impressed with the seamless sound of the Piega's although not the multi-channel demo. Who listens to music in the middle of the orchestra? The bassonist for one. Maybe that's why Louis Lipswich of Stereophile fame loved the B&W 800 speakers in his 11x13 room so much. Anyone remember that review?

For budget sound the Epo/Creek room was excellent.

I won't mention the rooms that were disappointing as some of it could be attributed to poor set-up and other conditions. One thing I walked away with was a reaffirmation that proper set-up and synergy go hand in hand with great sound.
The irony this question presents is incredible. Here are all these audio nuts trying to hear the best sound of the show (music I presume) when only 1 person (theduke) mentioned LIVE MUSIC. That was the best sound of the show. Hearing Hyperion Knight do Stairway to Heaven on the piano. John Pizzarelli Trio and Noah Wotherspoon (Barely 5 ft tall and 20 years old blues artist with memories of Stevie Ray) were the best sound with any other room far behind.

PS just so you don't think I threw away my audiophile credentials, Lumen White room, Clearudio pipedreams and atmasphere room with classic audio horns (I think) were pretty good as well as being unaffordable to this audio geek. Also try the Acoustic sounds 45rpm vinyl blues series with Jimmie Robinson and Wildchild Butler.
What was wrong with Thiel / Musical Fidelity??
Not on anyone's list at all. I thought it was really good for the price. Von Schweikert was good but pricey and lacked weight - not noticeable in small room with 5 speakrs though.
Joseph's $20K was good but no better than Nautilus 802's - not at the show but from what I remember.