NY HE Speaker Standouts

I'm always interested in looking for speakers around the $4k mark that most of us mortal audiophiles would consider to be the upper end of speakers we can actually afford. So here are my impressions of the rooms from this year's NY HE show worth mentioning, IMHO, for better or worse.


The surprise of the show. I have auditioned these speakers at shows and dealer show rooms on at least 5 different occasions in the past, each time walking away disappointed. To me, they always sounded like good hi-fi, just not natural. The big difference this time around, I believe, was the DK Design VS1 mk2 integrated amp ($3k) that was driving the VR4jrs. I have never heard this amp in person and most of you know the controversy surrounding this amp here on A-gon. But the sound was remarkable, most notably the soundstaging, imaging, and dynamics. I was perhaps one of the most open sounding speaker I heard under 10k at the show. Images just floated in a large black soundstage with instruments jumping out at you when called for. The imaging, staging, and dynamics remind me of my system (more on this later) but better.

I asked DK what was done to the amp and found out he replaced the stock tube with NOS Mullards (CVS ?, goes for around $160) with Herbies Halo tube dampeners. This amp was the long lost mate the VR4jr needed as there was tremendous synergy. The digital front end was the Oracle transport and DAC (over $10k), and cabling was by Analysis Plus. According to DK, it was the amp that took the VR4jrs to another level, not the digital front end or cabling.

The downside to this combo was some grain and rolling in the upper frequencies, slight rounding of the leading transients on cymbals, and still some residual hi-fi sound (eg, vocals not as smooth as my reference speakers) that started to fatigue me after about 30 minutes of listening. Please don't get the wrong impression. It definately was not driving me out of the room, but I could imagine after about 1 hour of listening I would need a break.

I heard the VR4jrs in other rooms with much more expensive electronics (ie, $19k VACs) and was unimpressed.

Overall, very impressive. Kudos for DK integrated for revealing what the VR4jrs are capable of.


Some of you may know, the 938s are my reference speakers. I wrote an extensive review on these speakers last year. These remain the best speakers I have ever heard in real world setting (eg, living room in your home). In other words, I may be biased so don't flame me.

This year, the 938s were set up in a much smaller room than last year's NY HE show. Compared to the VR4jr/DK VS1 room or last year's room, it was about 4 feet less wide. This was unfortunate because it didn't show off the soundstaging capability of these speakers.

This year the 938s were mated with their new SS balanced monoblock amps ($1.6k) and new KT88 monoblock tube amps ($2.8k). The preamp was their SS balanced preamp ($1.5k). Digital front end was the venerable Sony SCD1 SACD player. Cabling was by Hyperion using their silver biwire cables.

Since the VR4jrs ($4k), the 938s ($4.5k), and amps/preamp (~$3k) are similarly priced, a comparison is in order. The rooms and electronics were different, an absolute comparison is not possible.

These are my impressions of their sound at the Show. The 938s are still much smoother and more natural sounding the VR4jrs. From top to bottom, the 938s are more coherent. Imaging were on par with each other. The Hyperion tube monoblock made the midrange of the 938s bloom seductively and the highs just silkenly wet, which were not as refined on the VR4jrs.

The soundstaging is where the VR4jrs were clearly better, benefiting from the larger room and perhaps the DK amp. I know from last year's Show and personal experience that the 938s could equal the soundstaging of the VR4jrs in a comparable room.

The VR4jrs were also clearly better in dynamics being driven by the DK amp that puts out at least 300 watts in 4 ohms and clips at 800 watts into a 1 ohm load. The Hyperion SS monoblock puts out 100 watts into 4 ohms and the tube monoblock puts out 18 watts. Perhaps, the comparison isn't fair.

The 938's bass was respectable driven by their SS or tube monoblock, but not as dynamic as the VR4jrs driven by the DK. Also room size is likely a factor.

If I had to sum up my experience of the two rooms at the Show, I would put it this way. The VR4jr/DK combo just kicked your ass with it's amazing dynamics/soundstage and in your face presentation, but it lacked ultimate refinement. The 938/Hyperion SS/Tube monos seduced you with it's refined, coherent, holographic sound, but lacked the tremendous dynamics of the other. Even though the VR4jr/DK sound is impressive at first, I found myself experiencing some fatigue after about 30 minutes of continous listening. Given a choice, I would still choose the Hyperion room over the VS/DK room becuase I could listen to music for hours without fatigue. Please note these are comparisons of the Hyperion and VS/DK rooms at the Show, not of the speakers individually which I could only do in my home using the same electronics

So the real question is, how does the 938s sound with the DK integrated using the NOS Mullard tubes? Could I get the same level of refinement but with the tremendous dynamics of the DK? If anyone can answer this question, I would give my left testicle!


I used to be an Innersound fan when the Eros was introduced for $4k in the late 90's. Now their top of the line electrostatic goes for $20k and was mated to their electronics costing around $30k, not including the Redline turntable which I'm sure costs tens of thousands. They only allowed 4 people at a time (seated one behind the other) to listen to the set up because of electrostats extremelhy narrow sweet spot. The sound? Better than last year. Tremendous bass from LP. Good imaging. No emotional involvement. Flat stage. Not the transparency I associate with electrostats. So what does >$50k get you? You come up with your own conclusions.

If you want electrostat sound with real dynamics, try the Hyperion 938s.


Very impressive stuff from this Chinese company. The US distributor is Gini Systems (www.gini.com). The Orior is very handsome 2-way using the Accuton ceramic mid/bass driver and their own proprietary aluminum ribbon tweeter, although another new speaker from Sound Fusion (?Canadian company) seemed to have a very similar tweeter. I think the Orior goes for around $3.7k. Very clean, transparent sound with excellent imaging from these speakers being driven by what I thought was the most impressive looking integrated amp at the Show. Go to the Gini website. It is a single end integrated with dual transformers using two 300B tubes as drivers for the two 805 power tubes to produce 45 watts of single ended power! The god damn thing weighs over 100lbs, is finished in gray, and looks beautiful. People were guessing >$10k for the integrated. But get this, it goes for around $2.9k!!!! And they were giving 20% (or 25%?) discount at the Show! Fricken unbelievable what the Chinese are doing these days.

Well, I hope you enjoyed my post. There were other notable standouts from MBL speakers, Audio Consulting Empress speakers, etc. But these speaker are priced to impress those living in LaLa Land and not significantly better, IMHO, than what I mentioned above.
By the way, DK will be releasing the mk3 version soon. I was told it would not have the analogue meter on the front plate like mk2. Instead it has this ugly, IMO, new front plate without the meter and with some plain looking red indicators - the new cosmetic looks like Darth Vador to me. For those who read some of the reviews of this integrated, the analogue meter isn't really a power meter at all - it's actually an input meter that detects the signal comming from your source. But the factory can convert the meter to be a power meter if you want, just takes a little longer if you order it this way. Mk3 will have a variable out so you can hook up a subwoofer. I think the power remains the same as does the price. There won't be any upgraded parts internally from what I was told.
Dear Dracule1,

Did Hyperion just use the tube monoblocks to drive the 938s or tube on top and ss for the bottom? I share the same view that if the DK and 938 were to mate, they might be just the ultimate combo.

I thought the Focus Audio FS78SE was the surprise "stand-out" speaker at this year's Stereophile Show. Besides terrific imaging, dyanamic range, and depth of soundstage, the fit and finsh of the walnut burl enclosure was superb.

For $3450, pretty amazing.
The VR4Jrs. & DK amp sounded very good. I was less impressed with the Hyperions even though they used tubes: last year I imagined they would sound fantastic with tubes. But the soundstaging wasn't as good and they were a bit bright. Probably because of the smaller room.
Best of all to me, in this price category, and even with a midrange Arcam CDP, were the Aural Acoustics Model B (full disclosure: I auditioned & ordered a pair before the show). Incredible clarity, coherency and tonal accuracy. Not as deep in the bass as the VR4Jrs. but just as dynamic (with an amp of comparable power) and with a better midrange and top end than either the 4s or the 938s.
YMMV, of course, and I would love to hear all three speakers in a good room with the same quality electronics. They are all unusually good values.
I thought the Acapella small speakers were the hit of the Show? I wasn't there as it is too crowded and the rooms too small.
The Acapella Fidelio monitors were superb. But beyond the parameters of this thread at ~50% more ($6000 + $800 for stands) than the around $4000 of the above speakers. And not full range as most of these others are.
Hyperion and Silverline Boleros were very impressive.
Celebrer_le_temps, Hyperion did not use the tube and SS together.

Unfortunately, I did not get a chance to hear the Focus Audio or the Aural Acoustic speakers. I've been hearing good things about both.

Rbf, I was in the Hyperion room twice, in the morning and near closing time on Sat. In the morning, the 938s did sound a little bright on some recordings but in the late afternoon, the brightness was gone. I think what happened was the amps needed to warm up, and from what I understand the amps were brand new out of the box on Thurs.

The Acapella monitors looked nice but way too expensive, as are most of the Acapella line. Their horn loaded design without the ion tweeter did sound nice but the asking price is too high for the sound.

Thanks guys for the feedback on all the reasonably priced, reference quality speakers.
Dracule1, blame the weak US dollar. Things European are up over 50% since 2002 just because of the dollars decline. Think of their value at half price.
Didnt' anyone hear the AURAL acoustics model b? Talk about a sleeper WOW! If you missed these YOU were asleep!
ZZZZZZ....sorry Clamps,what did you say? :)
my favorite room was acapella's. both lacampanella and fidelio sounded close to perfect for me. transparent, sweet, fast, coherent, and clean bass from lacampanella.
Why didn't Kimber promote the fact they had the TAD speakers at the show.
They didn't even have in the program guide that TAD speakers were at the show.
It should have been listed under T or even next to Kimber in the Program guide.
The TAD 1 speakers they had at the show, use Beryllium technology for its midrange and tweeter.
This is what the new JM Lab Utopias use for there tweeter.
I am so mad I didn't hear these speakers.
I speaking to people today, who went to the show.
I said did you know TAD speakers were at the show?
They all said where?
I hope Kimber is reading this.
Next time you go to a show and have world class speakers.
Can you put in the program guide under T, that TAD speakers are there.
Here's a pic of the Gini isolation platform I was talking about.
They put this under the CD player.
Holy Moly did it look gorgeous.
Twilo, don't be mad. Kimber probably did you a favor. I heard the TAD room was a resounding disappointment.
Aural Acoustics Model B? Looks real interesting from ETM's pic; btw, don't they have a website???
Twilo, SAP has had such an magnetic isolation platform for some time. I have one and it worked well under my turntable. Long ago SONY had magnetic feet for this use. I had 9 but was never really pleased with the results.
Yes: auralacoustics.com
You heard the room, or someone told you the room was a resoundng disappointment? In what way? The speakers, the music, the presentation? I was in that room myself, listening to Ray's recordings of the Weaver State University Chamber Choir and band. While the unique recording perspective took some getting used to (keeping in mind that these four channel recordings were made using Ray's ISOmic technique), the resolution, soundstaging, and dynamics reproduced by the ultra-expensive, two pair array of TAD Model 1 was astounding. Each of the 4 loudspeakers, which have gorgeous fit and finish, was driven by a Pass Labs mono amp. The results may not be everyone's cup of tea, but I don't think anyone in the room on Thursday afternoon was disappointed with what they heard. Resorting to second hand comments or hearsay to pronounce a product a "resounding disappointment" is the fastest way to destroy your own credibility. Comments pro or con are always welcome, but should be made within the context of your experience, not someone elses.
I am actually adutioning the VSA VR4jr's this weekend with the DK amp. The dealer also sells the Hyperions and i've asked him for a demo of those as well with the DK. I'll let you know how it sounds with the DK amp. My visit is for the speakers though since these are the two speakers that I have had my eye on for some time. As of now I'm leaning toward the Hyperions, but I'll let my ears decide for me.

I visited the room and found the sound very unnatural, so much so I left within 10 minutes. Sound was clean but lean. I have yet to hear a 4+ channel setup that sounds like the real thing. Might as well wear a giant headphone. As for my credibility, I'm not here to prove my credibility to you or anyone. If you like what I have to say then listen with a grain of salt - these are my opinions, no better than anyone else's. If not, go on to other things. I report things as I hear them without pressures from manufacturers or other audiophiles. When a system costs $120k+, it better sound real IMO. The guy next to me disappointedly asked, "Is this what you get for $40k"? I didn't have the heart to tell him the real price of the system.

I would be really interested in your opinion after you hear the DK with the Hyperion and VR4jr. The DK did such a great job with the VR4jr, I hope it can do the same or better for the Hyperion. The only caveat I have is that the dealer may not have the Mullard CVS tube installed in the unit. The stock tubes apparently sound unimpressive.

I decided to go with the Jungson 88D LE integrated, which is pretty much unknown to most audiophiles. But it is 80 watt class A into 8 ohms that doubles into 4 ohms. From what I hear, it's really more than that. Its power transformer is rated similar to the DK, but it has several times the capacitance of the DK. The build quality is stunning, much better than the DK. Check out:
http://www.weekendenvironments.com/specials.htm. It's LE is the black chassis with the polished stainless steel front with power meters.
Slipknot, looks like I'm not the only one who felt this way about the TAD room:

Your point is well taken. I must say though that your first post sounded to me that it was in the third person:
I heard the room was a resounding disappointment
I read that to mean you personally had not heard it. For that I apologize. My comments went on to say that the recording technique was different hence the "headphone like" perspective. I don't think anyone who heard the system could dispute its resolving power however.
I actually think Mike's comments at his website were directed more at the source material than the system. I will agree again that it was very un-natural sounding as everything seemed to hang in mid-air, but the ability of the TAD to project whatever was on the recording (good or bad) is pretty hard to argue with. Ray spoke of how he hung the mics 10ft off the deck directly above the choir which was arranged in a circle. That would pretty much eliminate the ambiance of the hall that we in the audience use as a cue for where we percieve sound to be coming from.
I guess we can agree to disagree on this one, but the folks I listened with for almost 1/2 hour thought it was impressive, if not a little weird in perspective. I certainly would not have named it as "A room to avoid". There were enough of those that deserved that moniker with the boom and sizzle home theater crowd and their louder is better credo.

Sorry, my fault. It was my poor grammer and typing skill. I meant to say "I heard the room and it was a resounding disappointment". Yes, the TADs (including the amplification and digital source) are known for their resolving power, especially from the concentric beryllium driver. But if I want a "headphone" sound, I would do better by getting a Stax headphone with a good headphone amp.
I was extremely impressed by the Von Schweikert VR9 set-up (with Dartzeel amps, EMM digital, Jena Cables). I use vocals as an acid test, and these were the best I ever heard by far--a golden glow smoothness with no grain or gravely sound, but with a reach-out-&-touch palpability and "roundness". That quality was also evident on instruments. I didn't think a speaker could conjure up an image so realistic; I could almost see it. Maybe the ribbon supertweeter did the trick, but that's just speculation. I have never heard such wonderful texture. It reminded me of the futuristic holographic communications devices depicted in Star Wars movies. I just couldn't pull myself away. Too bad I can't afford them. But this was really a revelation.

(The VR9s were so nice, it kind of put the VR4 Jr's next door in a bad light; At that lower price-point I prefered the Focus 78s & Merlins had a more integrated sound.)
I've almost stopped paying attention to esoteric speakers over the last few years. Seems like there's nothing new under the sun in speaker designs, that acutally makes a differnce! I mean, there have been many speakers that offer the whole "transparent, super detailed, clear, uncolored, pretty, laidback, audiphile-sounding thing. Wilson's, Thiels, Verity Audio's, Merlin VSM, Talon's, maggies, whatever, all sound super dupper refined and such. What more can you expect from speakers, besides better dynamic transparncy and realism, right?
Besides, some of the better high efficiency horn, active, or multiple driver designs out there, most speakers are just trying to duplicate what's already been done before sonically.
Unless more efficient designs with superior dynamic abilities come along, I'm personally dissinterested most of what comes through the "tweak shows" lately.
Single diriver Lowther's, planner nock-off's this and that, multiple woofer box/separate ribbon tweeter collumn B.S., and home brew spaeker using the inverted ceramic tweeter or Dynaudio Essotar whatever, has all been done to death mostly.
So besides all that, what could be expected to excite beyond all of this? Any new techonologies???
By the way, did anyone hear the Peak Consult speakers at the show.
I heard them in the Sound by Singer room.
I thought the Peak Consult Empress was ok.
It didn't sound full bodied and the bass was lacking.

Then I heard the Peak Consult Diablo speakers on the large VTL tube amps.
These speakers sounded amazing.
They had a silkyness in the midrange was that awesome.
The bass was fast and tight.
This was my favorite sounding speaker at the show.
No worries mate. That's the beauty of this hobby and the reason for Chocolate AND Vanilla.

Hope you are enjoying your Hyperions. I came very close to going with a pair myself. But, in the end, I kept my Magnepans/Wolcott Presence tube amp combo as my personal listening priorities are so well served by the synergy between the two.
Several years ago I lusted after the TAD Model Ones. Since then I have heard them several times and lost all interest. Unlike the earlier TAD horn units, these lack the involvement and dynamics, especially as they always use the Krell big amps as they are not efficient. In my opinion they are speakers to impress non-audiophiles not for listening to music.
Twilo: I was curious how the bigger Peak Consult speakers sounded at the show, since I did not go. I've been listening to their smallest, stand-mounted model at my dealer's for the last few weeks, and it sounds VERY good, especially in terms of midrange transparency and "rightness". Much bigger sound, and far deeper bass, than their small size would lead you to believe possible. If my wife lays down the law at some point and insists on smaller speakers, these might be the ones I go for.
Did anyone listen to the Marten Design Duke?

And off subject, what's up with Red Rose's Burwen Bobcat?
In response to flrnlamb's comment, I think there is still room for improvement, in that no speaker does all things best. I think the VS VR9s I mentioned above have the most liquid, mids & highs I ever heard, but Wilsons have wonderful bass, whereas Kharmas have the best transparency & soundstage. (Let me stress IMHO on those sweeping comments, please.) This is still an art, and these things can't be measured, I believe.
Kana813, I left wondering the same thing about Red Rose's Bobcat thingamajig. I really thought ML was going deaf. The sound was digital, lifeless, dimensionless, rolled off in the extremes, and the channel balance was off to the right (I was sitting almost dead center). It was nothing like the revolution ML claimed it to be. Was there a technical problem with the setup? I don't know, but it sounded like mediocre CD playback. Or am I going deaf?

I can see why you still have the Maggies. The MG IIIs were my first love in hi-end (circa mid 80's). Just wonderful with the right tube amp.
I guess there is no accounting for taste! I loved the VR-4 SRs, but thought the VR-9s completely overwhelmed the room, visually and aurally. Seems to me that they would require a room about 3-4X bigger than that. Just me $0.02
Surprised that nobody mentioned about the Escalante & Butler room; no one likes it?
Everyone has their own way of perceiving things.To me and my little group of audio pals,the TAD-1's in use in the Iso-Mike demo were clearly the wave of the future.You simply must take into account that the ancillary stuff used here most probably added to the slight brightness that some have comented on.Not to mention the show/line(hotel)conditions.How long have most of us had,setting up and refining our rigs,in our rooms?

These speakers were STUNNING,in 2/4 or EVEN IF THEY WERE HEARD MONO!!They were Anthony Cordesman's "finest component" ever reviewed.His words,not mine,though when one takes show conditions into account,these babbies were amazing.

Listening carefully(I returned to the room/demo 5 or 6 times,to confirm I wasn't dreaming)there was TOTAL driver integration,with a staggering highly resolved and dynamic presentation.I heard them in 2 channel,as well,and the sound WAS consistent.I thought the Kharma MIDI/overpriced Ex REF was insulting in comparison to the TAD,especially at 30 grand more.I then returned,twice,to hear the JM Labs NOVA's that I had always considered as a future speaker,for me.FAGETABOUTIT!!The TAD is more revealing,by a long shot,and the bass of the NOVA was now revealed to be bloated in comparison.Something I had always been suspicious of,when auditioning the French beauties,on numerous occassions!Just my 2 cents!The VON SCHWEIKERT VR 9's,to me,were surprisingly good,but still had HI FI colorations in comparison to the mind blowing design(even if some of you "Just don't get it")of the TAD's!!BTW,I don't think I can be happy until I can steal a set.Just kidding!!
I loved the VR4 Srs as well. I liked the VR9s but felt they needed to do more for the money. I felt the VR4s were better. Best of all I liked my own personal system. What a great feeling.

I loved the Harmonix / Reimyo room. What an amazing CDP. It was tempting but a more extensive audition was needed.

I was disappointed in the Kharma Lamm room. Every year I want to bee enthusiastic about Kharma speakers. Every year I leave dissappointed.

I also came to some final conclusions on listening to the EMM w. the new transport. I am still using an old Philips that is modified. At the show w. the new transport CD still sounded well how should I say it, like CD in almost all the rooms I went to. I wish I could have heard the new DCS equipment. I did think the DCS hear was excellent. I felt the EMM on CD was very good but not in the league of Reimyo on CD. Saying that the Reimyo sounded very close to the EMM on SACD. No direct comparison but a beautiful full and smooth sound in both rooms. Every time someone played a CD on the EMM I was able to hear the images get smaller & less palpable. A few rooms had some great turntables. The vinyl people were so happy to hear vinyl & commented accordingly. But in truth Vinyl wasn't necessarily better. It still depended on the recording etc. I heard a master tape on the VR 9s. Great sound.

I am sold on the VR 4s as a great value and think if the price range fits give them a listen. I didn't listen to the JRs this year. I was hopping to hear the Wilson Maxxs since Wilson was listed on the internet. I was upset about missing them. Of course I am biased. I also wish I heard the Sound By Singer rooms as many people commented on the excellense of the sound. All the big rooms from years ago were split w. panels. I missed having the bigger better sounding rooms from previous years.
Dgad, I entirely agree with you about the Reimyo CDP. I have had the early dCS and the same EMM gear you have. Presently I have the Exemplar 3910 which to my listening is better than both, but the Reimyo CDP is king! I have several times come to the point of buying one, but it would be in addition to my Exemplar.
Tbg, What impressions did you have between the SACD on your unit or the EMM as compared to each other & the Reimyo on CD. The Reimyo peoples said they will be no longer producing the CDP soon as the transport is no longer being produced by JVC. I know this should change forums.

As for best sounding speakers the true question is best sounding system. The Harmonix room speakers were very good as well. I just felt that they had a definite "sound" which I can't describe. I found they excelled with certain music & in other situations they were just very good. Overall listening to lots of music the VR4s were great.
In response to "Rgs92's" comments, I beg to differ in that, there's really not that much more you can expect from a speaker than that's already done in these designs, in the area's I'm mentioned sonically. I mean, how big of a soundstage do you think is realistic? How perfect is YOUR PRECEPTION of what a super midrange is supposed to be? How much more detail?...none! You can already milk every detail with some of these designs RIGHT NOW!
Basically, you can change amps, toe-in speakers and change width to affect imaging and midrange/tonality, etc, whatever. And the sound of speakers is greatly affected by everything in the room really!...as you know. So, I don't put every emphesis on what most speakers can offer, as the "end all-be all" of transducers.
I've worked in 6 audio stores, and have been around this stuff for over 20 years seriously. I don't get blown away by much anymore.
The last great thing to float around was the superb Avantgard horns. But then, sonically, they fall off like a rock off axis..which is a deal breaker for me...not to mention their mass and bulk. But, they're still good speakers.
I mean, really, you can nit-pick about some magical attribute your fav speaker offers, or about your setup. But I garantee, no one else will listen to your system, and really give a care! I garantee it!!!
Really, dynamics is the deal for me for high end speakers. They eigher deiliver the goods, or why waste my money! I'm at that point now. I listen to too much dynamically bassed music and movie material, to be satisfied with your typical passive audiophile-fare as of late. At least I gotta somehow make the dynamics happen, or I'm just not happy.
There are some designs that do good in this area, with room for improvment. This is the single most under-achieving aspect of most speakers IME. I'd like to see better.
If you don't think so, just pop in most any heavy dynamic, metal, rap, techno, heavy rock, new-world, Disco, hip-hop, or movie, and you'll understand...for all you Dianna Krall, Bach(?), and Jazz at the pawn shop listeners, you might not neither care nor understand....but I personally need a system to have some passion and drive. Otherwise, it's a "gutless/heartless" experience.
Focus FS78, Von Schweikert VR-4jr were the standout speakers to me.
Flmlamb, I would agree about dynamics and about needing passion and drive in your music, but the only speakers that have ever satisfied me in this regard are horns. But they are directional which you say are a deal breaker for you. Is it not too bad that this vital component, loudspeakers, are so heavily compromised?
I think flrnlamb makes a very intelligent argument here, some really echoing my own thoughts that I have not heard elsewhere. I also feel that many speakers (& systems) fall on their faces with the challenge of reproducing, for lack of a better classification, music more mainstream than you hear at audiophile events. I wish reviewers (pros & amateurs) would cover this as a courtesy to readers. However, along with dynamics & drive, I think tonality is, if anything, even more important with rock, dance, etc., where I can hear a natural screaming vocal or drum smash without distortion or breakup imposed by the speaker or upstream equipment. Even electric instruments & synthesizers need to be (and deserve to be) truthfully portrayed to avoid a painful mid-fi experience. The holy grail is to get the tonality right with sucking the life out of the music. Thanks to flrnlamb for the insights.
I too thought that the Von Schweikert/DK combo was one of the most exciting rooms at the show. The system had an absolutely uncanny 3D and holographic soundstage with pinpoint imaging and awesome dynamics. The front end was Oracle playing regular redbook CDs. If these guys had put a quality turntable into the room it would have probably taken it up to an even more stratospheric level. Considering that this was a $3000 integrated amp driving $4000/pr speakers, this is truly an awesome accomplishment in audio engineering. I had visited rooms where just the cables cost more then this whole system, that did not have the kind of musicality that this system offered.
Again, I simply would like to see either more "active speaker" offerings by high end manufacturers, or much more highly efficient innovative designs...especially from high end manufactures. I see no legitimate reason this can't happen, be properly marketed and distibuted.
At the very least, speaker makers can start with active subs built in, just like what the MTS prelude Infinity's offer. I see no reason Thiel, Wilson, and others can't at least start here, and then grow to all active designs. Otherwise we need some strides in design changes.
Flrnlamb, in the 1960s Phillips had a self-powered speaker. It did not sell. I suspect that were there really a market there would be manufacturers anxious to fill it.

What we really need a new drivers. Everything we have is dated technology and full of compromises. I wish someone would do a real digital speaker with 256 powered tiny drivers.

I can tell you are impatient. After 40 years of audio, I too have lost patience and have chosen my poison. Dynamics and quickness are what I stress.
The problem with self powered speakers is that they do not sound good and you do not have full control over the sound. And a speaker with tiny drivers will not necessarily sound good either.