New York Audio Show Review
Holy mackerel what a show. I got that phase due to the King Kong clip that I brought to use as a test track. Worked out well for what it was. First a summary then an indulgent elaboration for your edification.
** The cost of equipment has become obscene across the board
** Vinyl is back with a vengeance with audiophile reissues remarkable not only for the title choices but the incredible jaw dropping low noise floor when played
** With some excellent exceptions, a true reference phono cartridge really starts above $1000.
** Turntables and phono stages continue to amaze with further advancements in design with incredible tactile master tape like sound quality
** The price to quality value knee continues to improve across the board. 80% - 90% of the best for a fraction
** From start to finish, the staff and the facility of the NY Palace Hotel was as classy and helpful as it gets
** You know your in a classy joint when the concierge has ear plugs
** So impressed with younger generation attendance. The most college age audience I have ever seen. Hope for the future
** All dealers that allowed me to play my test selections really enjoyed them. That felt great and I am pleased to bust up the same old same old audiophile tracks that every room seems to have
Dan Dagostino / Wilson
That room was a disaster when it could have been a pleasure. And I don't like saying that about Wilson or Innovative (one of the finest dealers) The room was loud enough to cause hearing damage. I had to leave. The Alexeia speaker, shockingly, was a disappointment. Yes, it focused beautifully and sounded reasonably coherent and yes it may have been the room itself but I expect more from Dave Wilson. The best element is the new tweeter. Beautiful sounding. The Dagostino amps are also very good. (I will never own one.) They are a touch homogenizing dynamically compared to other designs. I left the room annoyed. Audiophile enjoyment of music is NOT only about volume dynamics. It's about quality and realism. Peter Mcgrath should know better. The Wilson Sasha preferred (so far).
Lamm / Spiral Groove / Wilson Sasha
Ah my nirvana. The Lamm M1.2 amplifier. A masterpiece. Almost too real. So vivid in the mid range, so punchy and fast in the bass and treble and so three dimensional and addictive. You will never hear anything else like it. The Lamm LP2 phono stage is another one. Extracts every last bit of information from the groove and does so with incredible dynamic range. Sometimes a little sterile but believe me, I could get used to that if I owned it. The Manley Steelhead competes for my dollar. The Steelhead is warmer but equally as dynamic and it would be a pleasure to own. Spiral Groove table with Lyra Kleos cartridge also sounded detailed, tight and quiet.
Genesis / Burmester
The Burmester solid state amplifier's at reference level are among the best. The 909 behemoth matched with Genesis 2.2 JR. Sounded beautiful and gave me more exposure to line array design. You can truly stand anywhere in the room and get a solid sound. Vivid, more musical than I expected in the mid range and low treble. The chief designer was there and we had a ball playing music. The sound was like being in a club and having the musicians life sized. Billie Holiday, Sweets and the rest of the band were THERE. Very few speakers do that for me. The best Genesis I've heard and one of the best speakers I have heard period. I still prefer the Scaena's however.
Simon Yorke S10 / Audio Arts
This dealer is a class act and a very nice guy. Wrote him an email a couple of months back about listening at his shop while telling him that I couldn't afford it. He invited me anyway. Smart move. Wish more dealers would be that accommodating. The Simon Yorke turntable belongs at MOMA. It is modular art-deco masterpiece that looks as good as it sounds. And it does sound good. It's already owned by Lincoln Center and the Library of Congress. Although the front end in the demo were good, I would have preferred other gear. Records played were so beautiful, realistic AND detailed that it was truly an ethereal experience. The sonic signature of Yorke's table is richness, rhythm and liquidity across the spectrum.
The ES version of the SS AR 1 and 2 series is not even close. Sounded ok but too strident. Even with Pass Labs XA series driving it. Overpriced as well at $10,000. I am a Sonyholic but I call it as I see it. Save your money. The AR2 heard at last year's show is a joy.
Red Wine Audio / Harbeth / Bricasti
I was very impressed with the hybrid Liliana mono blocks demoed with Harbeth 30.1 speakers. British speakers have such a near field energy and studio monitor quality. The Harbeth's were wonderful near field with the M1 Bricasti Dac (which is now even better). My vote for one of the best sounding rooms at the show.
Martin Logan / Krell
I almost loathe to write this. My reaction similar to the first time I heard the Scaena's. I am shocked about how good the ML Art panel speaker sounded. What a change from what I heard years ago. More dynamic, On the same page from lows to highs, palpable, focused three dimensional pinpoint image, bass from a panel that would put your jaw on the floor. Beautiful to look at. The best complement I could give to the sales manager was that this new technology rivals a line array. Another best of show vote. The Krell 400 Evolution mono blocks a perfect match. The Krell Cipher CD player lives up to the reviews. I want to hear this speaker again and I still cannot believe that I am writing this about a Martin Logan speaker. This model competes also with dynamic driver speakers I've heard. Experience teaches especially when my mind is much more open now to different ideas and interpretations.
Rhapsody Music / Vivid Audio
Another work of art worthy of an art gallery. The speaker sounds rich and nuanced but forward in the mid range and with an offensive price. Sonically, to my ears, it is nowhere near worth $40K. I've heard much better for much less.
And now the best for last. As a student of all things Japanese, I have always marveled at the incredible dignity and passion that they bring to audiophile design. To their culture, almost nothing is beyond possibility in circuit and component artistry and this is especially true of Kondo Audio Note. Just to look and touch the chassis of their gear is to experience something truly worthy of art. Their reverence for tube gear and the harmonic richness and liquidity of the single ended design is unparalleled in comparison to other nations who create this equipment. Balance is such an important word to both me and in Japanese culture. And they hit it right on the nose this time with their brand new 211 tube based single ended rockers The Kagura mono blocks. 55 watts a channel. Oil in paper caps. Silver wired transformers. Gold plated RCA connectors. NEVER have I heard a single ended amp this good with Steve Marsh's Thor second. The 211 output tube is much more dynamic, realistic sounding and robust than any 300B design and that is not an insult. Different flavor. I had all the staff and guests present tapping to my musical selections. They were smiling from ear to ear as we played Huey Lewis, Marvin Gaye and Sam The Sham. Their $100K turntable with the always impressive Kondo cartridge was one of the best I've heard and all 20 are already sold out. Push pull tube amps are still my favorite yet when you listen to this level of refined design, you are just grooving with the music and floating away. Left the show on cloud nine. I'm visiting them when and if I can get to Japan.
CT Audio Society