I came primarily to audition loudspeakers, so this report
will focus on them. I omit associated equipment, as there was just too much to
keep track of, and few rooms had handouts with the detailed list of components.
The first day of the show, I managed to visit 2/3 to 3/4 of
the rooms that were of interest to me.
The remaining rooms I’ll visit tomorrow morning, and then start going back
for a second listen in the afternoon.
In what follows, I’m more or less transcribing my jotted
notes that I took while in the room in question.
Note: the regular-sized hotel rooms being used by most
exhibitors tended to emphasize strongly a particular bass range. For too many of the rooms I noted “bass boomy”. Only a few rose above this…
Some highlights, not necessarily in order of preference.
DAEDALUS ZEUS. Very
large speaker in a large room. Very good
generally, beautiful on classical. A big
sound, but not overdone (like some others).
Very natural. Wonderful
dynamics. True majesty on large-scale
DAEDALUS APOLLO. I
still don’t know exactly how I feel about this speaker. It’s good certainly, verdict is out on
whether it’s great. Decent imaging and
soundstaging (I would have had them a bit further out into what is admittedly a
small room). A good clean presentation,
could be a little overwhelming on some tracks (volume of playback?, room?). Promising to be sure, and a real contender.
SALK SONG 3 BEAT.
Easily my nomination for “best bang for the buck” speaker auditioned so
far. Extraordinary for the price. I repeat, really extraordinary. A nice presentation overall, good depth of
soundstaging, for the size of the woofer the bass is definitely there—and then
some. Bass could be a bit boomy
depending on the recording (see above). Beryllium
tweeter (the BE in BE-AT), one of the best I’ve heard. On one recording it got a wee bit steely on
massed violins being played back at high volume. Very impressed. Of course the wood veneer is also fantastic.
IMC Audio. One of the
true sleepers—well, perhaps not even a sleeper, as it doesn’t go on sale till this
coming January. Extraordinarily
fine. Look for a photo on the web—it’s
unconventional, to be sure. A large slightly
curved array (curved both horizontally and vertically) using bending wave
drivers. Sitting on top of massive
woofers in a large cube. Very very
natural sound. Good imaging, good
soundstage. Good dynamic range, but not
overdone. A true full-range speaker,
that doesn’t overwhelm. Projected price
around 20K. Dedicated crossovers with
lots of adjustment, needs two power amps.
I repeat: if ever a new company and a new product deserved to succeed,
this is it!
HARBETH 40.2. OK, I
admit it, still my favorite. One of the
few in the small rooms that didn’t boom, but still produced strong, deep
bass. Pure, natural, clear. Excellent timbre. Good imaging and soundstaging. Brought a smile to my face and tapping to my
29K. I believe this new speaker,
or its bigger brother, has been commented on very positively from other
previous shows, and I understand why.
Big, full range, but not overblown sound, very natural, impressive presentation,
sense of effortlessless.
DESTINATION AUDIO NIKA.
Large speaker with horns and a massive cone woofer. The size overwhelmed the small room…..but the
sound didn’t. It managed that trick of
being delicate *and* full when required.
Dynamic for sure. Ultimately I
thought that the image projected was perhaps bigger than natural.
SONNER LEGATO UNUM.
These tiny speakers with small, small, small mid-woofers seem to defy
the laws of physics. Using a 5.5” driver
(it looks about 4”), every single visitor to the room was asking: where’s the
sub-woofer? *And* they could play loud,
very loud. Ultimately I thought them
slightly bright, slightly “hyped” overall and a little “larger than life”,
though part of this could have been the volume they were being played at. Amazing engineering, to be sure.
Middle of the pack (for me).
What these speakers shared, was that they all struck me as highly
competent speakers, doing everything right, but somehow they didn’t separate
themselves from the pack. It’s as if
there were a good, clean, modern sound that a number of manufacturers are
DYNAUDIO CONFIDENCE 20.
VIENNA ACOUSTICS BEETHOVEN CONCERT GRAND.
QUAD Z4. Nice
presentation, but little except a keen price to differentiate it from many
DEVORE GIBBON SUPER 9.
Their new model. Thunderous bass
for the size. Good dynamics and full
sound. But everything a bit homogenized,
blended/mushed together, I think this affects timbre most of all, as well as
individual instrument lines. Perhaps a
by-product of being demonstrated as excessive volume (compression?).
TAD E1 [not sure of model name, floorstander]. Big sound, but overlarge images. What I call a “technicolor” speaker.
LEGACY SIGNATURE SE.
After that less-than-rave review in Stereophile, I wasn’t expecting that
much, so I was pleasantly surprised.
Rich sound, good bass.
Dynamic. Believable size of
image. The more I listened, the more I
became aware of a less-than-totally-natural timbre, and they also got a shade
steely on classical violin at high volume.
Definite bang for the buck, but probably not for me.
disrespect to these makes/models, but on the day, in the room, listening to the
tracks being played, I was severely underwhelmed. They have good reputations, so likely under
different circumstances they would be much better.
SPATIAL AUDIO M3. I’d
been really looking forward to hearing these.
Very boomy in the room (because of open baffle??), and the sound overall
seem very homogenized. Timbres not
distinct, and everything kind of mushed together. Opposite of what I’ve been calling pure/clean
WALSH OHM 5000-series.
What can I say? As with Spatial,
I’d been really curious to hear these, but I didn’t cotton to them at all. Perhaps it was the unconventional set-up
(even for them), perhaps it was the room, perhaps it was the source
material. Other people there seemed
happy. But other than being overly loud,
there was no imaging at all, the sound was homogenized, not in the least
beguiling, and frankly it reminded me of a quality sound system being piped
into a noisy upscale restaurant. As I
say, *my ears* *on the day*, as I know there are many fans of this line of
Any requests of speakers for me to seek out?