TRELJA almost In New York, 2006

I wasn't really going to write up the VTV Show. It isn't the annual HE Show, sponsored by Stereophile that I usually have too much to say about. But, VTV is the big shindig for us East Coasters this year. A few friends requested I put my feelings out there as to what I thought of VTV. After considering it, I figured, hey, what the heck?

First, as always, endless thanks to my compadres. The folks who make the show even more fun than it could ever be otherwise. Navigating, and offering way too much encouragement in relation to what this particular fool deserves, along with stimulating conversation, is my main man, Dennis (Badboss429). The ride up in the MINI felt like a few short minutes, and it was because of you, my friend. Likewise, the entire day melted away into what felt like it was less than an hour. And, the ride back with the top down on a perfect spring day was marvelous. After that, it seemed as if it was more or less a meeting of our Philadelphia Area Audio Group (PAAG), with members Tom C, Earl, Bob Z, Andy, Barry and the elder K, Joe P., Allen E., my good friend Jiang and his lovely wife as well as a few of us who were showing ala Vytas, Steve Monte, and Vinh Vu. Didn't catch Art Dudley, though I was kind of hoping I would. But, interestingly enough, I ran into Sam Tellig. Sam was far less of a horse's rear end than I anticipated. In fact, he was downright gracious and nice. He's historically been Stereophile's best writer, though give me Art Dudely. Sam's buddy buddy personality probably comes across loudly and clearly in his reviews, to the detriment of the reader. Still, it was nice to finally cross paths.

I was more than disappointed by the paucity of vendors in the room housing the old and interesting stuff for sale. Personally, I bought both cash and credit cards along, hoping to pick up a few different tubes. Just looking to give my money away. I ended up buying nothing. Being a VTV show, I figured the odds against that happening were pretty high indeed.

Briefly, the sonics at the show were good overall. Not great, and for the most part, not bad. Of course, the rooms, which were definitively not audio friendly, had a large say in why things were not great. I was happy with the sound of most of the gear showed today, though felt there wasn't anything I saw or heard that left me feeling I wanted to make a purchase right away. There was gear I'd buy were I to do things over again or had a lot more money, but again, nothing really that left me lusting.

One obvious trend at the show, which we all see and discuss in these threads is the arrival en masse of Chinese audio componentry. Statements on all sides of the argument have been made by many. What I'll put forth here is that no matter what people think, the quality of these products has really come a long way in the past decade. A long way. To the point where I am left flat out impressed by an awful lot of it. Metalwork, casing, fit and finish, and heft were for the most part to the level where I would personally feel a certain pride of ownership in having a lot of these products. Yes, were I in the market, I could buy Chinese without issue. It's more surprising now to see poor build quality today.

Now, for those who feel otherwise, those who don't care, those who are nostalgic, and those who are looking for a legacy product, Dynakit has been resurrected!!! Yes, you heard right. It's made in the USA, from the bottom up, and all in kit form. To put it bluntly, I was floored by their products. But, I was floored times 10 by their pricing. How about a brand spanking new Stereo 70 amplifier for $625?!? No reason to pay almost as much from some guy on ebay with 3 negative feedbacks, hoping it will be more or less working on a wing and a prayer. BUY A NEW ONE! And, 40 wpc monos for $425 each? Can you believe this? I mean this the beauty and build quality of this gear was awe inspiring. Oh, and the stainless steel chassis will never elicit worries over rust. This stuff was the one brand of the day that I'd order today. The EL84 based amplifier, driven by a Dynaco variable tube output CDP, and mated with Omega loudspeakers sounded really, really sweet. I could buy and/or recommend this stuff without hesitation. And, a word about the guys from the company - THE BEST. Straight A's all around for the new Dynakit.

The aforementioned Stephen Monte, owner of audio store Quest For Sound, along with Bob Z manned their Consonance room. I happen to like the Forbidden City line and their 211 mono amps. And, the Droplet CDP speaks for itself. I was less enthralled with the new M15 horn speakers that some of my friends are nuts over. Now, I have to say that this was definitely not the right room for these speakers on many levels. The room was too small, and listening position was a lot closer than one should probably be. Still, I heard more mid/treble forwardness and not as much coherence through the frequency spectrum than I consider acceptable. I'll give them another listen in different environs, but maybe I'm just not a horn guy? Yes, they do a lot of things better than other speakers, and they also do some other things worse. But, if it's your flavor, don't worry about what I think, just go with it.

I'm not sure how much I can say about my good friend Vytas Viesulas without my credibility coming into question, but I'm not sure I care, either. What his Rex speakers are is unique. 300 wpc powered 6.5" woofers, 2 4.5" bamboo cone midwoofers in a truncated transmission line stuffed with real honest to pete wool, crossed over at a sky - high 8 KHz, using a simple series crossover to a German dome tweeter, all in a round enclosure, dressed in a virtually indestructible finish (it's used as truck bed liners). Vytas has systematically attacked so many of the normal problems loudspeakers face that it's no wonder he ended up with something that doesn't look like anything else in audio. Driven by a 22 wpc 300B based Consonance integrated, if you want something apart from the same old, same old, you may want to give these a look. As an aside, anyone looking for the ultimate computer or iPod speaker may want to look into his other product offering, it's a real winner as well.

Ars Audes speakers were a beautifully finished product, sporting a true ScanSpeak Revelator (only one I saw all day?) in an MTM arrangement, in large concave rear walled cabinet. The speakers were driven by the Art Audio monos that I am like a lot. Nice sound down to a certain frequency, at which point, things got discombobulated. Worth a serious look, though.

Art Audio, this time with their Jota integrated drove the German FJ speakers, of which I must apologize for not knowing the model. Wasn't a fan of the sound in this room. Probably was the speakers that didn't light my fire.

While a Lowther fan and owner, I didn't like the AER based horns, either. Do I rename this issue the AER Shout? Liked the partnering amplification a lot, though. You can run a wide array of the SET tubes in them, simply by dialing up the switch on the backs of the power amp. The guy was actually doing this on the fly, pulling out tubes, setting the control, and putting the other tubes in, all without turning off the amps or stopping the music. Don't try this at home, kids. Special mention to the linear tracking Technics early 1980s turntable. Along with this guy, I've heard from a few people that it'll embarrass many a modern audiophile turntable. He pounded the desk the TT was sitting on with his fist pretty good, and the music never skipped a beat.

Cheer Audio is a company I've never, ever heard of. But, the demonstrators, including Ms. Zhou, were more than gracious. They brought along three integrateds; one based on the 300B tube, another runing EL34, and the third with KT88. We didn't hear the KT88 amp. The mids produced by the 300B based amp finally made me understand why people love this tube so much. Simply put, they were incredible. The EL34 based amp added a lot of slam on the bottom, if it wasn't able to match the 300B in the mids. At $599 for the 300B version and $499 for the EL34 (should have asked about the KT88 version), you simply can't beat the pricing. I don't want to ever hear that this is a rich man's hobby when products like this are available from such nice people.

Again, maybe I'm not a horn guy, but I didn't care for the vintage aluminum horns, though they did do certain things well. I did heare them on someone else's speakers last weekend, and they were most impressive in that application. You want to talk corner horns, those speakers I heard last week were corner horns.

I don't mean to get on a negative roll, but that seems to be the case... The North Creek ribbon kits sounded thin, bright, and lacking body in the mids and lower treble to me. Such a surprise, as I'm such a North Creek fan. Just that I need a bit more voluptuousness and romance in my music. I was pretty sure about the way they sounded to me, but my two friends Barry and Joe were so adamant about them being "Best Of Show" that we had to return for a second try. Nope, my initial ruling stuck. You can see the vanilla and chocolate thing coming through - maybe you'd love them. The newly introduced monitors featuring more conventional drivers sounded much more to my liking. I'm not sure the solid state gear was the way to go in this room, but what do I know?

OK, here I go kicking the sacred cows. Is it me or do I just not get the Acoustic Zen/Red Dragon combination that people went gaga over at CES? Not bad, but nothing to write home about, either. At their price point, they're very competitive. Very competitive. I was expecting a lot more because of all the hype.

My friend Vinh Vu, of Gingko Audio is making a lot of noise in the audio world with his unique and creative products. Vinh featured a new version of the Tubulous, that showed me some undeniable improvements in the lower frequencies when things get bumpy over the former iteration. The finish on the bases looked quite beautiful.

I was surprised McIntosh was in attendance. Not really in step with today's audiophile. Is that a good thing? The look is timeless, and the sound is the sound. Whether it's your cup of tea or not is your call. I'm kind of on the fence about the stuff, which is most out of character for me. Would like to hear the MC275, which they had sitting in a coner. If I ever bought a Mac, and I'm not sure I would want to, I'd bet it'd be the MC275.

Cayin is fast becoming one of the more talked about, and controversial, brands in audio. A real comer, they're making some noise in the industry. Cayin is typical of what I went into early in this thread about the products coming out of China. Surprisingly well built and finished, what was being played today was clearly even better than what I had seen from them two years ago from a build and finished product standpoint. North American and European companies who've spent far too long resting on their laurels (are you reading this, CJ?) ought to take a long, sober look at the Cayin products. Unfortunately, the Aurum Cantus speakers they were driving in one of the rooms did them no justice.

How can I say this? I'm a huge fan of Audio Note. Plain and simple. In the three rooms they had at the show, I heard the kind of lively, engaging sound that made me happy about listening to music. And, isn't that what we want from the stuff we are looking to own? No, it's not cheap, but when you factor in that you can possibly buy these products, sit down and listen, and be happy for a pretty long time into the equation, one begins to see the true value of Audio Note gear. Before I move on, the efficient speakers they produce should be a consideration of anyone who has a low power tube amp that needs a sympathetic speaker.

OK, now it's time for me to slobber all over myself... I don't like the Horning speakers. I LOVE the Horning speakers. Yes, Art Dudley didn't give them 1/10th the positive review I would. And, yes, for a Lowther purist they must be utter blasphemy. But, the end result, and that is the ONLY thing I'm about, is that this is perhaps the most natural sounding speaker I can think of on the market today. They simply sound like music, and I can think of no higher praise, audiowise. Oh, and you can run them on low power - they're Lowthers at heart, after all. Factor in that Jeff Catalano is one of the best people I've encountered in the business, and I can't think of a reason why one would need to spend any more money for a speaker that doesn't sound as good as the Hornings. That's the surprising thing; I've heard a lot of speakers that cost more. I don't think I'd take any of them over these. Remember above, when I said there wasn't anything I really was left wanting for after the show. Well, I think I have possibly lied. I'd love to buy these speakers.

As if that weren't enough, I'll show myself to be an ever bigger fool. I really messed up the name of Michael Allen, owner of Joliday, pretty badly. I'm not sure anyone is a bigger fan of Jolida than I, which is funny because I don't own any of their products right now. But, Jolida was the first on the block, and offered more affordable tube based audio products that delivered far more performance from their amplifiers than anyone will ever give them credit for. Roll the tubes, and you end up with something that even a non - audiophile wouldn't balk at spending that nudges right up near the reference level products of this hobby. It was the thrill of a lifetime to meet Michael, and discuss the trials and tribulations of Jolida. He was a super nice, down to earth, modest individual. Here's hoping Jolida continues to stay strong and point us towards where we're going. Oh, and the sound from the Apogee looking Analysis Audio/Jolida Music Envoy combination was probably as good as things got today.

The Zu Druids were on display, and Sean and Adam were their normal fun selves. I try to stay out of a lot of the Zu discussions, as it's simply the most polarizing topic I can think of in audio. You're pretty much a Zu hater or a Zu supporter. Where do I fall in? I'm a Zu supporter. Yes, the Druids have their issues, and they do a lot wrong. A lot wrong. But, let's not forget they cost $2800. Now, take a step back, and think about it. Let's talk about $2800 speakers that you'd rather own. Hmm, we can point out a lot of things that they do wrong, too, can't we? The Zu speakers. Druids or Definitions, aren't my flavor. But, I give them their due. At their pricepoints, they appeal to a fair number of audiophiles as being the best option on the market.

I already mentioned Sam Tellig, and would anyone know the Opera Loudspeakers were it not for Sam? Most probably, not. I've been seriously itching to give these babies a listen, and here was my chance. They weren't the model I was most interested in - the $8K job. These were the step up, both in size and price. Much bigger, and twice the price. From the upper bass all the way up to the top, these were fine, fine loudspeakers. Imaging was great, and the speakers had a lively, energetic, but not tipped up sound. But, the bass and mid bass was simply sloppy and loose, taking away from an otherwise exciting product. I still want to hear the next model down. Seems to be probably where I fit in best, but you never know until you hear them. Oh, and if you're into cosmetics, the wood on the Opera Loudspeakers, from the most affordable models on up is truly beautiful.

Well, that's about it for me. Yes, it's a long and opinionated report. They always are. Feel free to disagree, as I always say, "That's why they make vanilla AND chocolate." One could also say, and strawberry...

Thank you,
Thank you, Joe, for such a thoughtful and comprehensive post.
When is the Cliff Notes version coming out???
Grant and Nate for your input!

It would be cool if we could have the information zipped up, with thumb pointing up or down next to each entry, along with a + one could click if they wanted to read the whole thing on the room. Oh well, check the other sites or wait for the mags to come out if you're looking for less information, and just about no opinion.

Must be the ghost of Freud in me when it comes to Jolida. Yesterday, I mess up Mr. Allen's name when I meet him. And, in the show report, I call his company Joliday. Yeah, you're not dealing with the sharpest knife in the drawer here...

It was a fun, low key show. That made for being able to listen to the components, and spend the time with the company owners and reps to get your questions answered. Though we expected otherwise, there was nothing of the mob scene the Stereophile Show in Manhattan is. At less than 30 minutes outside of NYC, for anyone within a few hours drive, I encourage you to make the drive there today to see a lot of audio gear you won't have the opportunity to get close to otherwise.
How long will Dynakit stick around this time with such an exciting product lineup?
Thanks Joe, very nice. Just wondering since you mentioned sloppy lower bass on several speakers, do you think this may just be an overall room issue? I mean I realize the room is always a factor I just find it interesting that your comments about disparate speakers were so similar in that regard. Keep up the good work and feel free to share more with us. By the way, are you still involved with Fried?
Is the Acoustic Zen/Red Dragon pairing the AZ Adagio speakers? If so, since they are a TL design and you are a Fried aficionado, how do you assess the success of the AZ TL implementation?
Nice writeup! As one the pals who encouraged your writeup, I must again say that I wish I could have joined you there.
Couple of questions for you...
Did the Art Audio room have analog? I've heard good things about their new reference phono stage.
Were the FJ speakers you disliked the small floorstanders with the upward firing driver? I heard those at CES in the Quest For Sound room with the Consonance turntable and Allaerts cartridge and it sounded great! Regards,

Nice work and thanks!

You wrote: "Cayin is fast becoming one of the more talked about, and controversial, brands in audio." I've been hearing the good things about Cayin, but I'm not aware of the controversy. Can you elaborate?
Hi Joe,

Fantastic job on the write up!

Thanks for the info, and your effort!
Great write-up Joe!

Sorry I didn't get up there with you. I was at Lloyd Walker's place on Saturday, and he had Sean and Adam from Zu at his place on Friday night. Was there much in the way of vinyl playback being used in the demo rooms this year?
Thanks for all of the feedback!

Johnd, somewhere in 2002 - 2003, I became a lot more critical regarding bass than I used to be. One day, while I was out auditioning speakers with a friend, I noticed the port resonance, and recognized it as distortion. It's been all downhill since then. Now, I'm far more critical of this kind of bass than many an audiophile.

While the tube renaissance is something I am a part of and welcome, the rise of ported speakers to near total market domination has brought with it a lot of poorly designed and implemented ported speakers. Most surprising, there is no correlation between price and engineering competance. I've heard a highly regarded $35K speaker in the past month, owned by an industry insider that was so flawed in this regard I was completely taken aback.

So, yes, I rail against this a lot. Getting involved with Bud Fried did nothing to hamper this tendency, as once you are exposed to better designed loudspeakers, those that exhibit this seem to bother me even more greatly now. I'd rather have someone either put forth more effort in design than put so much emphasis on quality veneers and/or finishes.

Drubin, I tried to look for the speakers on the AZ website, but I must apologize as I couldn't find the speaker I heard yesterday. Nevertheless, I think it was the model you are asking about - it did look like a TL. As I just spoke about the difficulty most manufacturers seem to have with ported speakers, I would venture to guess things become even more difficult for them when they try to do a TL. The saving grace is the one note bass issue won't be there. But, a TL is a lot harder than most expect. Bud obviously did a good job, but he used to confide in me that 99.9999% of people who tried simply used to screw it up - there's a couple of little secrets he told me about, and virtually every other implementation I've come across go directly against that and pay the price (like Meadowlark). It seemed AZ probably did OK, but I wasn't enamored with the speaker. I realize it impressed a lot of folks at CES, so perhaps it was the setting yesterday?

You're right, Spencer, you are one of the main reasons this thread exists - thank you! The Art Audio room did have an analog ride; what seemed to be a nice one at that. And, yes, that was the FJ speaker. Was not to my liking whatsoever, but I have been impressed with the smaller FJ speakers in the past. Maybe bad room?

Kubla, I don't think Cayin itself is a controversial company, apart from their roots, which doesn't need to be fleshed out here. I think a lot of what I'm talking about is the fact that it's a Chinese company, and whether we admit it or not, there is surely an anti - Chinese bias in audio. Some people in threads become a bit overzealous on both sides of the argument, and I've personally seen Cayin at the center of these debates.

Porziob, based on what I heard yesterday, so long as the word gets out, and about the only knock on the Dynakit people is that they didn't seem as industry savvy as some other companies, there should be enough buyers to keep the venture going far into the future. The product lineup looks to be built to an incredibly high standard, and a lot of audiophiles still feel they have yet to find a better tube amp than an old Stereo 70.

Finally, Joe, vinyl was all over the show. Definitely at the highest level, in terms of percentage of rooms, I have witnessed.
Thanks for the write up Joe. I, too, was there and concur that the rooms, like most of these "hifi hotel" sitatuations, did not do the systems any favors. That said I really wasn't very impressed with what I heard throughout the day. The only room that really impressed me was the High Water Audio display with the Horning Hybrids--that system made music despite the poor acoustics. Everything else to my ear was mediocre hifi. The Acoustic Zen set up was particularly disappointing given hype. I was also really curious to hear the Audio Note stuff and while I found their systems to capture the essential midrange quite well the idea of cramming speakers into the corner and the consequent collapse of any soundstage entirely unacceptable. Even with the bass boost that was supposed to be provided by the corner placement I also felt the Audio Note systems sounded thin and emasculated on the bottom end.

Overall, the show really didn't offer much in the way of musically involving stereo systems. I'll say it again--the rooms probably deserve most of the blame here but I have to wonder since the High Water system was able to put together some engaging sound in the same space as everyone else.

Are the Dynakit people open for business yet? Are they selling over the Web? A URL would be great...
china's build quality is not an issue...its the the world's largest music and copyright 'pirate'. supporting an audio industry which harbours this conduct to the tune of billions of dollars is not a good thing.
Thanks Stacker! The Dynakits look great...wonder if they'll be coming out with a new PAS preamp?
Hi All,

I’m the “Bob Z” mentioned above. I just want to clarify my association with NAT/Quest. Stephen Monte is the owner of Quest for Sound (retail store) and NAT Distribution (importer and US distributor for Consonance products and AAD loudspeakers, among others, and creator of the Sound Quest products). I have no financial interest in Quest or NAT, but I am a fan of the Consonance and Sound Quest gear. My affiliation started several years ago as a Quest customer and I now consider Stephen a friend (even though I am a bit jealous of Stephen for running his own business while I remain a lowly wage-slave, an indentured servant to “The Man”). As I was planning to attend the VTV show I thought it would be fun if I volunteered to help Stephen out at VTV. I mostly hauled boxes in, unpacked them, packed them, and hauled them back out (a middle aged roadie if you will). Oh, and I occasionally dolled out misinformation on the products when Stephen was not available to more intelligently answer show goers’ questions. ;-) Sorry if I lead anyone astray with my woefully inadequate knowledge of the specs/pricing on all the various products.

Anyway …

Joe (Trelja),

Nice write up! I’ll throw in my two cents on rooms I was able to spend more time in and enjoyed …

VTV Show Sonics - I was unable to hit all the vendor rooms at the show. But, based on how I know the Consonance and Omega speakers to sound in other rooms I’d agree with Joe and say the sonics were fair to good, but not great. Large speakers producing lots of bass did overload the small rooms. A bigger problem was that the listening positions were, in general, too close for many speakers (with the exception of monitors designed for closer positioning, like those in the North Creek room that you mention enjoying).

Dynakit - I too was impressed with the new Dynakit ( and so was Gary Krakow of MSNBC Dynakit sells parts kits as well as individual replacement parts, including chassis, for the old units. I spent some time speaking with Kevin Devaney about the kits, including a walk through of the manual and a look at a partially assembled kit. Kevin has obviously put a lot of time and effort into getting this right and ready for market. (One of his associates mentioned that Kevin has put something like five years into this, and it shows.) The parts quality is outstanding (and all US sourced). The assembly procedure is extremely well planned and the manual provides all the pointers, tips, and tricks of the trade that an experienced assembler would know. Putting all this in the manual will make it easy for even a first time builder to have a Dynakit that looks professionally assembled. After showing the online manual to an EE coworker of mine (hardware engineer with 20+ years of RF design experience who repairs vintage audio as a hobby) he was most impressed and thought that the 35 could be easily assembled by a newbie in four evenings. (As an aside, the new Dynakit as no association with the current Dynaco.)

REX Loudspeakers – The show proved that Vytas Viesulas’ Boxxer7 design works well in smaller rooms. These speakers have a punchy, articulate bass mated to very smooth mids and highs. They are not bright and convey the music in a non-fatiguing fashion that, to my ear, hides the presence of the crossover … very seamless. And they are beautiful and beautifully constructed. The craftsmanship put into them is obvious.

Consonance - What can I say? I like the products. The Droplet CD player hooked directly into the Cyber 800 tube mono-blocks (78 watt) fed the Consonance M15 horn speakers. The closeness of the listening position to the M15s made them sound brighter to my ear than they are in a larger room but the setup sounded great overall and is extremely engaging. In spite of generally preferring tubes to solid state, I actually like the Forbidden City Turandot CD player (all SS) and Calaf Integrated Amplifier (hybrid, tube pre, with 200 watt SS power that is class A to 40 watts) with the M15. The room received many complements and many a folk with “PRESS” badges requested to make arrangements for review samples. When a “PRESS” person is tapping his toe to the music, the room must not be sounding too bad, right?

FJ Speakers - The Hudson Audio room is where I believe Joe was listening to the FJ speakers that you disliked. If this was the room, the speakers are the new three way FJ Super-OM. I spoke to Tom Hills of Hudson about them. They use a soft dome mid-range driver. My understanding is that the show sample speakers were straight off the boat, fresh out of the box, and playing at the show. In my experience with auditioning the smaller FJ OM and Mini, the FJ speakers need lots of run time to sound their best. Patience is rewarded with the FJs because when they are broken in they sound excellent. By the way, Tom is a great guy, very energetic, and (you will appreciate this Joe since you like your music LOUD) late in the day he could be found cranking up heavy metal and classic rock at balls-to-the-wall concert volumes. In fact, his was the only room that I know of that the hotel management asked to turn down the music as it was disturbing guests dining in the restaurant. That should add some points in the Super-OMs plus column for those who like lots of dBs!

Omega & Red Wine - I really liked Louis Chochos’ Omega Superhemp speakers in past auditions and the show conditions did not change this. These are great speakers to my ear and when I can get an in home audition, to prove whether they will fill my rather large listening room, they may stay with me. This was my first opportunity to hear the Omega XRS speakers and the Red Wine audio products. The Fostex based XRS was in the Dynakit room driven by the 17.5 watt per channel Dynakit 35. I was surprised at the amount of bass emanating from a single 4.5” driver. The tonality and timbre seemed accurate, the instruments sounded natural and real, if not “full sized” (in this case, the trumpet sounded small). In the Red Wine / Omega room there was a prototype XRS with a 4.5” Hemptone driver and this was also very good, and perhaps a bit warmer sounding than the Fostex based XRS. While digital amplification is not my cup of tea, I really enjoyed the Red Wine / Omega combinations. The music came across in a natural and relaxed manner; high fidelity without “hi-fi” exaggerations. When I asked about the source I was surprised to be told that it was a music server. A music server?! This is something that I had not considered but I must say that Vinnie Rossi (Red Wine) makes a persuasive argument with his modified Olive unit (numerous mods including change to battery power). If you want the convenience of a server but don’t want to sacrifice sound quality this may be the way to go.

Nicely done, Bob!!!

Just to put my own two cents in, Bob Z. is one of the finer people you'll meet, audio or otherwise. It's always good to know people like Bob, and when they happen to share the same hobby as you, it's all the better.

I think Bob helping out Quest For Sound just for the heck of it on Saturday speaks to the type of person he is - he gets involved to help out with whatever is needed, with no thought of personal reward.
I must say that Vinnie Rossi (Red Wine) makes a persuasive argument with his modified Olive unit (numerous mods including change to battery power). If you want the convenience of a server but don’t want to sacrifice sound quality this may be the way to go.
There are many of us out here who are very interested to get some opinions of the sound of the Olive as it compares to other DACs. (I know the Olive is more than a DAC, but the DAC is the most important element in the box, IMO). It seems like an ideal solution to me...especially the Opus model.
Red Wine's battery-powered Monica2 DAC has made a great impression on me. Coupled w/Pioneer Elite DVD as transport, I'm getting sound much better than I expected at the price, and in some ways better than many more expensive digital rigs.
Vinnie definitely has some cool stuff out there! Cheers,


Awe shucks (I blush) ... you flatter me! Thank you for the compliment. I just wish the reality of me could live up to your fanciful description. If I was what you say, all’s I would need is to perform a miracle and sainthood would be assured. ;-)

Besides, I had plenty of thoughts of personal reward, just not of a material nature. I was there from Fri-Sun as a mini-vacation from reality (I stayed the nights in the QUIET hotel next door to get a break from those ROWDY VTV vendors). The weekend was much cheaper than I imagine psychotherapy is, and definitely more effective than I know it to be. Now, if I could only convince my wife that T.H.E./CES is also great therapy. I can’t understand why any wife would object to watching the kids for a week while her husband is alone in Las Vegas attending T.H.E./CES at the same time as the annual Adult Entertainment Expo (pornographic convention). What’s up with that?!?! ;-)

Stephen had other help as well. It was a pleasure meeting Henry and his son Kyle, local (NJ) friends of Stephen who also helped out Fri-Sun. Henry is a dedicated SET/full-range enthusiast who helped me gain a better understanding of what that has to offer. And teenaged Kyle’s enthusiasm for audio is inspirational and gives hope for the future of high end audio (get a high paying job Kyle, you’ll need it). And let’s not forget about Larry Z who found time in his busy schedule to come up from Philly to help out on Saturday afternoon.

Thanks again Joe for your kind words.


P.S. - In rereading my show notes post above ... DUH! ... I meant “doled out misinformation” not “dolled out misinformation”. I are a engineer not a English professor. What the heck would “dolled out misinformation” even mean?

P.P.S. - Sorry to hijack this thread with meaningless non-audio related drivel.
The speakers with AER's were Lamhorn 1.8's, the amplification Tektron-Italia, both imported by Robyatt Audio. The amp plays 45's,2A3's,300b's,50's,Vt52's,463's.
The Technics SL10 had a original Sumiko Blue Point, bypassed the inbuilt step up and used direct into a Tektron phono stage(Mullard 12AT7's).
BTW. You are wrong about the AER's -WAAAAAAAy better than Lowthers,apart from 6c's and 7's. Smoother less ragged deeper bass. Youb probably just heard them with a 300B in line at the time? Should have heard the 50's or Sophia "Princess" tube!!!
Thanks though!
Robyatt, thank you for your input.

I find Lowthers (own the PM6A and PM6C) to be far smoother than what I heard from the AER drivers, but will again say that the VTV rooms are not the be all and end all in terms of sonics.

For what it's worth, in our audio group, as far as I could see in our myriad conversations at the show, or on our discussion board afterward, none of us fell in love with the AERs. I'll give you the benefit of the doubt, and say I'm more than willing to give them another shot, but for now, I'll take the Lowthers.

I did hear the 50s and maybe even the Sophia Princess, as I laid out you hot - swapping the tubes in the initial write up. I liked most of the tubes you tried in the time I was there (I remember 300B, 2A3, 45, 50), but I think the 50s were my favorite evem if it's now hard to recall.

Like the turntable. LOVE the amps!!!
Just to make myself clear, a friend of mine asked me over the phone what I felt the best sound at the VTV Show was. I apologize for not spelling it out as well as I should.

2006 VTV TRELJA Best of Show - Jeff Catalano and the Horning Room. Miles ahead of the next best room. Great job, Jeff!!!
Joe, great job on reporting the VTV show. I got that you were very favorably impressed with the Horning room, so perhaps I should give them another listen when the opportunity arises. I was pretty hopped up about them (from what I had read elsewhere) before attending the RMAF in Colorado last year, but was unimpressed with their sound at the show. They were in two separate room with two separate models of their speakers, but there was a common muffled quality to the sound in both rooms. I could only speculate as to the cause, but I wondered if it was the result of some kind of enclosure resonance/anomaly. If that was an inherent trait of the speaker, it certainly wouldn't win my favor. Some others I spoke to didn't seem to pick up on this coloration, but it stood out in spades to me. Just went away scratching my head as to what was supposed to be so great about them.

Therein lies the problem with shows.

Nice post, Dean!

First, in my opinion, you have to be honest. If you didn't like the speakers (or, any component or room), the right thing to do is say so.

Now, they might not be your flavor, they just might be bad speakers, or the room might not have been conducive to them making good sound. Them not being your flavor is always a possibility, again my "vanilla and chocolate" thing. If you are sensitive to a particular resonance issue you raised, I can certainly relate to that, as I have my own list of sonic faults that drive me crazy. It's a "princess and the pea" thing sometimes. A component being bad can also be true. The first two I give some leeway towards, but rooms not sounding good I have a lot less tolerance for. A company pays a lot (money, setup, time, aggravation, putting on a good face for a wide array of visitors) to get into these shows; not doing all they can to put forth the best sound possible is pretty much inexcusable.