I went to THE show and didn't make any friends ...
I know absolutely noone is waiting on my show report, but to help others hear where I am coming from, I thought I would post my notes and drama anyway. I was only able to spend half a day and here are my thoughts:
The last show I went to was in Oakland and it was sponsored by Pass and ASC. For my ears, a bad combination. I’m just not a Pass fan, and the ASC traps made every room sound like they played exactly the same bass note and one treble note all the time. This show was much smaller, and no such sponsorhip, so the sound in each room had a lot more variety.
Best value of the show goes to Fritz and Wyred4Sound. They also took the most care with the room acoustics. For the total system cost, around $15k, I thought it was really good, but the treble balance was hot for me, as were most of the displays I heard.
Best sound: Audio Concepts room playing Vandersteen Quattro’s’ with Vandersteen amps and a tube pre I forgot the name of. Of course, this was a $45k system. $15k speakers, $15k amps and goodness only knows the turntable and amp.
Unlike previous shows, the ESL’s acquitted themselves well. The Martin Logan and Sander’s ESL’s had some of the best balanced responses to my ears, with the Sander’s having among the best imaging (in exactly 1 chair). I like Roger and his speakers, but man, his taste in electronics is basically the same as Julian Hersch’s. Technically OK without being emotionally involving, or relaxing. The opposite, it put my ears on edge. Perhaps the digital crossover and room EQ they were using?
Other rooms with great imaging included the Brooks Berdan room with the Magicos, the large Legacy conference room, and the Thrax Spartacus demo room. The later had really good mid to treble balance, but was a bit chesty on vocals.
The award for most pretentious goes to the room demoing monitors and the short bald guy who tried to aggressively stare me down for politely asking if he could step six inches to the side so he wasn’t blocking his own demo. Hilarious.