Great Job Trelja.......sorry, but I must have missed you in the very, very large crowds?
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I'm a serious Thor believer. I own the TA-2000 preamp and the TPA-60 monoblocks. Simply unbelievable. Music lovers rejoice. Worth every dollar, and Paul at Thor provides extraordinary service unmatched by any other service I've every asked for in any line of business. And the lifetime warranty? Too good to be true.
Trelja - do you remember the speakers Thor coupled their equipment to?
Nothing left for me to say except: great summation of what we saw and heard yesterday Joe. And, as always you are a blast to do the show with. We had a great (but loooong), day, hung out with some great folks.
PS: Albert Porter: it was great to meet you in person and get a chance to talk with you. I'm looking forward to your show photos.
Great report! Really captures what goes on.
A couple of corrections: What you referred to as the Mapleshade Audio room is actually Robyatt Audio room. They do use Mapleshade wires and speaker stands, but the amplification is from Tektron-Italia (single ended triode for Italy), Omega horns, Wilson Benesch Circle turntable, and Pioneer DVD/SACD.
Yes the speakers in the corners are from the Horn Shoppe.
They also have Audio Zone solid state gear from Canada.
All vibration control platforms are from Gingko Audio so there is no conflict with Mapleshade vibration control stuff. Gingko platforms and rack are also in the Kharma/Lamm/Walker room and the Reference 3A/Antique Sound Labs/Kuzma room.
The crowd seems to enjoy a very entertaining and engaging Robin Wyatt of Robyatt Audio, especially with his hot tube changing act!!!! All if all, I am glad to be in such a fun room!
Leftisleft, you must be a very happy man, in addition to obviously being a wise one. The speakers that mated with Thor were WHT http://www.cc-audio.com. Joe didn't really care for them, but again, as always, the Thor room just captivated me.
Joe, I am happy you had such a good time. I was expecting you to take me behind the woodshed for my opinions, but I guess we are on the same page.
Vinh, thanks for the clarifications. But my biggest mistake was misspelling the name of your company, Gingko Audio. I feel horrible. The one company owned by a true friend, and I mess that up. How can I make it up to you? The sound of the rooms you were in was uniformly great. See you in July!
Darn, I just realized that we missed the ASL/Reference 3A room! We were itching to see what ASL brought along, although I did find this particular combination to sound nails on the blackboard screechy in 2004. Since then, a friend's 1009 monoblocks are among the finest tube amplification I have come across.
Big correction, Jacintha is from Singapore. I've known that for a long time, and am so sorry for messing that one up.
One more that I should have listed in the bad sound at show, but forgot probably due to the fact that we stayed there for only ten seconds - Almarro. When the sound came on, it was awfully bad. The system just cannot play at normal volumes. They frantically backed off the volume, and I guess the sound then was nice enough, but if you cannot play at low - moderate volumes, what exactly is the point?
And, a final clarification, the turntable we praised, but did not hear, in the Innersound rooms was the Redpoint. Great literature, if on the lightweight side. The rear of their handout features a takeoff on Don Fagan's "The Nightfly" album, with a guy smoking a cigarette in a radio studio.
I respectfully believe you are mistaken midficollege. The only reason being the doctor is an 845 junkie, and got into a long conversation with Mr. Yun's assistant about why they chose the 805, in addition to the price being way out of whack.
Hey, we're definitely East Coasters, and not shy in the least about telling a manufacturer what is on our minds. The amp sounds great, but is way overpriced. Perhaps as a one off, I can understand it, but there is no reason whatsoever it should be priced over $4000.
Just got home from the show, brought in my luggage and fixed a snack.
I can hardly believe Trelja has had time to write such a through and excellent review. I am still jet lagged and looking for Advil to relieve my tired feet from dragging photo and computer gear for five days.
The only thing I would add to these already excellent comments is the sound from Marten Design speakers shown in the EAR room. These look and sound similar to Kharma but for much less money.
I also heard nice sound from the Chimera carbon fiber speaker by Wilson Benesch. They were great the first day, but the exhibitors swapped the transport and DAC for a integrated CD player and never got the magic back again. I would really like to hear that one with quality tube front end, amps and cables.
There was another speaker that fascinated me, the Epiphany model 12-12. This is the next to best model from this company and was demonstrated with and without the dual 18 inch sub. I could not help but think of the Pipe Dream while sitting in front of them. I listened at least six times while at this show and on some material I was impressed while other times the balance became brash and hard.
First it would seduce me, then trade all the texture and finesse for "in your face" dynamics. The multiple auditions were very confusing for me.
Then, the last day I noticed dark strips of colored tape on the carpet. When I ask about them they replied "That's the various room positions we've tried during the show." (No wonder I can't keep up).
I would like to hear these in a better environment with tubes instead of Tenor transistors and analog instead of CD. Maybe some day.
I hope Arnie receives the CD's with images tomorrow (Tuesday) and can begin posting them for you guys to see. It was a fun photo shoot and a great show. I very much enjoyed New York after being away so long. It's one of the most exciting cities in the world with a great diversity of people, fashion, lights and sounds.
After the show each day we walked from the hotel in search of food and drink. Among my favorites were Smith and Wolinski Steak House and Angelo's on 57th.
Did I mention the dizzying array of beautiful women? I should. More than I remember seeing in one place in such a short period of time.
The SIlverline amp was so new on Thursday that it was still throwing off fumes - perhaps from the trannie paste or perhaps from flux - who knows. It sounded damn fine then but better on Sunday after breaking in.
WHen we asked the name of the amp & the price he said it was still too new. He was trying to get impressions from people before he decided, but threw out a $15,000 approximation. Well, a lot of people liked the sound here, not to lose any credit that belongs to the Bolero speakers though. So he'll probably stick with that price tag.
I agree, $3000 would be fine - $15,000 is way out of whack.
I thought I might add my two cents regarding the Atma-Sphere/Gilmore match.
I started playing string bass in 7th grade and have continued to this day in various groups and orchestras over the years. So far the Glimore has presented the most realistic reproduction of string bass I've heard in an audio system. The 4 woofer array is easliy driven by all of our amps, but for those unused to planar bass the lack of box energy is unnerving.
I myself have box speakers at home and they simply do not play bass the same way as any planar owner knows. Since they obviously play down to 40 Hz as natural as can be I have to assume that the octave below is presented accurately too, as it was also obviously resonace-free.
The highs on the speaker are at once relaxed and detailed, although you had better watch what you play on them- a poorly recorded cd can change your impression pretty quick, and not for the better. As per the usual, I had to endure more bad recordings then I would have liked at the show.
Even though some of the music I choose is poorly recorded, but that's different... I guess I can't blame someone else if they listen to bad recordings too :)
FWIW, that was air bass, not guitar :)
Ah Ralph, I must apologize for making that mistake. I should have paid a bit more attention and realized it was air bass. Hopefully, you will forgive me. I think I was too busy bothering you about upgrading my pair of Atmas and basking in all the tubes you had lined up along the side wall.
Nevertheless, I guess we just have different opinions when it comes to the sound in that room. Again, I am in agreement with the many who found the Gilmore speakers to be a major disappointment at CES 2004. It could be that they are fine sounding speakers, that just did not mate well in that setting. I won't put the blame on the amplifiers, as I am a living, breathing advocate of Atma Sphere, and know they sound a lot better than I heard on Friday. My own pair with Coincident speakers sound far superior to my ears.
Obviously, you are the boss, and can think and show how and with whomever you choose. But, in my opinion, I think Atma Sphere could easily find a superior match. I will say that I thought the sound with the Gilmores was several steps up from the Classic Audio Reproductions horns from 2001 and 2002, however.
Well heck, we got *good* reviews back then!
I must admit that the Gilmores had me thinking about the nature of reality. I am so used to box speaker presentation, especially in the bass, that the way these speakers make bass was really something different for me.
I spoke to Mark Gilmore about this at length (as he seemed quite happy about how the amps were handling the speakers, and I imagine he ought to know...). I listen to a lot of modern music -70s, 80s, 90s and beyond- and as odd as this might sound, IMO the box speaker has become part of that culture, so to speak. So as a result bass coming from an electric bass has a completely different presentation from that of bass coming from a string bass.
IMO, the Gilmores excel at the string bass part, but I don't get the energy with the electric bass part. Mark explained that the speaker does not 'retain energy', i.e. it is non-resonant. He points to that as to why the presentation is so different with the two types of basses, even though they play in the same range. Yet at the same time, organ pedal notes of 16Hz (Saint-Saens Organ Symphony on EMI) were reproduced properly and effortlessly.
If I was having trouble with this, I cannot doubt that others would have too. The Organ Symphony was the eye-opener, as it did demonstrate that the bottom end was there and not lacking.
Mark claims that most speakers (planars included) retain energy for various reasons- box resonance, frame resonance (in the case of certain planars) or the inability of the diaphram to return to center (or the resting point) as in the case of certain ESLs. By placing the resonant frequency of the baffle an octave below the cutoff of the drivers, and by having no box at all, Mark avoids these issues, but boy is the bass different! He says if you add a little bass boost to simulate the energy retention of other speakers, that then the bass is presented the way most people are used to hearing it, but he maintains that such is not correct.
Are we used to hearing overly bloated bass?
We studied the room with an audio analyzer. The bass turned out to be remarkably flat, with anaomolies only showing up in the midrange (room related) and (also room related, due to the curtains we hung) not much response at all above 15KHz.
It was weird to see the readings on the instruments, hear naturally recorded stuff come off fine, and then have some of the rock stuff come off as different as it did. I suspect this speaker is going to have people scratching their heads for a while.
Just as a non technical observation, couldn't the difference in bass quality and reproduction between electric and acoustic bass be directly related to the way each instrument creates it's sound? In other words, an electric bass guitar produces its sound with an amplifier and speaker cabinet. Doesn't the bass guitar speaker cabinet produce the same (or similar) resonant energy as a box hi-fi speaker? And therefore, might there be a natural synergy between electric bass and dynamic (or box) speakers? Conversely, an acoustic bass uses just the instrument's body to amplify the strings. Therefore, might there be a natural synergy with electrostatic (or non box) speakers which have less, or no, stored resonant energy?
Yes, that's precisely my point. The Bass Guitar cabinet is self resonant, and then that sound is close miked, so that's what is recorded. So we have become acustomed to this sound in rock recordings, but its not right. Not right anyway, if you go to live shows and hear the same bass amp and guitar in a live environment, and not right, as the recordings are close-miked.
Still messes with your head though.
Atmasphere, my experience with live rock concerts is that the bass guitar inevitably sounds bloated beyond recognition due to re-amplification through the P.A. system and resulting reflections in the arena. I personally prefer the close miked techniques of studio engineers. Of course, small venue sound is different, and I suppose this is the rock-n-roll "Holy Grail" sound...as if the listener was in the same garage as the band. Nevertheless, I'm glad we agree on the bass amp cabinet principle.
We agree on more then that. The problems with re-amplification- well, they suck. I too prefer the close mics, although:
If you ever get a chance to hear the recordings that the BBC made of rock bands back in the early 70s (I have one of Pink Floyd), the sound is *amazing* and its done with with a Decca mic tree and no overdubing or post-recording effects. Just live into the stereo tree- no mics on the guitar amps or the bass amps. But there is also no additional PA to dirty things up, just the instrument amps themselves. Easily the best sound of Pink Floyd ever recorded.
There are two 'sources', both LP. The fist is if you can find the original radio-play LPs. These are very rare. I've never seen them. The second is if you can find 'Rhapsody in PINK (the Psychedelic Years) by the Screaming Abdabs. Obviously a bootleg, the vinyl is excellent (I've had three copies) and the transcription sounds as if it came from the tapes themselves.
There's a copy on eBay right now, item number 4014797591. Last I saw the bidding was up to $99.00. I've seen them go for $250. For anyone into Pink Floyd, though, its must-have.
Trelja and I must have have identical hearing, I got exactly the same impression of all rooms exactly as written here. Read his review see what I thought. Among the unknowns I would like mention the to the honest to goodness performance of the Stello booth.
Unfortunately (or fortunately) I missed the best in sound. I left the Singer room after the thiel room, the BS/min of music played was simply too high. What a pimp show, I wouldn't be caught dead in the joint.
Amazingly bad bass was coming from these speakers in the basement, I don't recall the name: two tweeters, two midranges open baffle and a few woofer units in reflex arrangement, you know what I am talking about.
Very bad sound also coming from some recently very highly reviewed MTM that were played on a chord rack and on another room with unheard of electronics Living Voice I think they were called. Remarkably they sounded MUCH worse on the chord setup.
Reference 3A sucked on big pipes too.
Never heard Lamms before and I found them unremarkable. IMO their 50K 6c33 amp sounds like a $1500 almarro, I am not sure if it is a compliment to almarro.
VonSwantz/VAC wins my award for worst of worst. Heavily processed CD material and what the hell is single crystal copper? I suggest them to brush up on their inorganic chem.
MBL and wilson benesch where playing loud and left me totally cold. There seems to be something negative to be said about scandinavan/danish drivers in ultrarigid cabinets. They are very precise and dynamic but sorta lifeless. In the case of joseph audio the Manleys and vinyl seemed to help alot.
>Biggest Surprise - Hyperion loudspeakers/electronics.......
I was a little sad that you did not return after you told me that you would have brought 3 pairs of our HPS-938. It is probably our speakers are not good enough. Woooo......
Just Kidding ..
Thank you so much for your wonderful report. We really appreciate your help and support. You are more than welcome to come back to us, if you change your mind later for buying speakers.
Albert, I am sure you remember us. Joe, Dr. M, and myself were the guys who kept coming back on Friday. I think we may have visited your room four times. And, we got into some pretty serious negotiations with you out in the hall. I figured my wife would tell me the last thing I need is another pair of speakers, but she seemed fine with the fact that I very nearly bought them. She told me if I really wanted them, we could return on Sunday. By the way, they would be going in her system anyway. I think the only other room we revisited was Merlin - one time.
At $4000, your loudspeakers carry my highest recommendation here on Audiogon. I sincerely hope that some of our members give these HPS-938 a try, as they will be seeing a truly first class loudspeaker at a particularly modest price.
The three of us may just get in contact with you in the future, although I am in the process of getting involved with a speaker company myself, which I will need to announce here on Audiogon for ethical reasons. Still, my objectivity - subjectivity (I'm not sure which) will always take precedence, and I would love to own a pair of Merlins and Hyperions in the future, in addition to the Lowthers I am building.
Thanks much for adding your insight here, Prossi. I always enjoy and appreciate honest opinion and a great show review.
By the way, have you noticed that enjoythemusic.com's show report should probably be renamed enjoythevideo.com? I don't know about you guys, but I am a stereo guy through and through, and feel there are enough outlets that pump up HT and video that guys like us should just stick to audio.
Thank you, Djbnh, but if we did hear the Odyssey room, which I think we did, my memory now has faded. Perhaps Joe or Dr. M can chime in here...
I should correct an omission that I had made originally. The Lowther based Rethm speakers I found to my liking were paired with solid state Red Planet amplification. Despite the conventional wisdom that a "sand amp" will not make good sound with a Lowther, again, the sound in this room was terrific.