67 responses Add your response
Nice report Joe. Now if you're ever down Florida way, I'm a stone throw away from Plastic World, stop by for a Merlin demo. Show conditions are horrendous in most instances. I remember the worst I ever heard Vandersteen sound was at a show. So what does that say? I can't imagine that all these products are as bad as they sounded at the show. btw, were the Vandy 5's in a larger room? Did they have an advantage over the other set-ups?
Trelja, It's a bit late so I'll make it quick. I was at the show Friday, but could not attend Sat. I will try to go tomorrow. Are you still in town? Would be happy to meet and greet you there. First impression: Go to the Sound by Singer room and listen to the Lamm amps! Fantastic!! Will try to give everyone a better picture tomorrow. I have relatives visiting this weekend so I haven't had as much available time as I would have liked.
I was there two days and regardless of the room size there were some impressive setups.The new Gershman speakers at $15K were very natural-I forget whose tube amps were there.
Art Audio Jota monoblocks and the new Solilquy 6.5 for $6000
were one of the best at the show.Great sound at prices considerably less money than most rooms.
In a larger room on the second floor was Sanibel Sound with the Halcro amps($22K) and the sensational Piega P10 from Switzerland($11500)
The Coincident room was not to my liking.
The two days were a blast but it was very crowded-much more so than anyone expected.
I thought the Odyssey Audio Presentation was very good. I finally had a chance to hear the companies setup and walked away with a rare smile. I honestly feel that Symphonic Line gave one of the better presentations of their line which included the dimming of the lights and a locked door. I came to realize that the chance to really hear the various equipment in these rooms was next to impossible with the small rooms and the many people talking and coming and going so I quickly went for the "try and see everything game plan" which left me with a since of accomplishment rather than total dissapointment. I don't know many many people there knew about Hi-Fi or not, although I managed to speak to a few people and the few that I did speak too seemed to have a fair knowledge of what they liked and didn't like about Music and Hi-fi and that was enough for me. It was a large crowd (mostly male and middle aged) especially when it came to the most exotic equipment as the Sony room had a more younger hip feel and a crowd to match. I'm very curious with this 777es SACD player and would like to hear it in 2-channel playing Redbook Cd's. With the street price expected to be about $2,100 - $2,400, front loading, with quicker start time than the original and hopefully no fall off from performance than it seems that Sony has addressed most of the gripes other than software issues, that I had with the original 777es.
Well I've been invited to Lyric Hi-Fi for their show this weekend as well. They will be giving demos on Multi channel Super Audio CD and surround DVD-Audio today. They will also be showing the Magneplanar 20.1 loudspeaker. What I'm actually looking forward to is the Madrigal HT system being played with a SACD Player through Mark Levinson Revel equipment.
Till next time
Thanks for the compliments. Tubegroover, the Vandersteen 5/Cary V12 setup was in a larger room. On the 4th floor. Anyone who thinks of the words "slow, overly warm, vague, and lacking in detail" when thinking of Vandersteen will have to reassess their philosophy. This was my first experience with the 5s, and the thing that struck me was that they were about half the size I expected them to be. I will definitely take you up on the invite one day. Thank you! Bpmnyc, I am no longer in town, but would have stayed for Sunday had I known. I think you are a very wise man. Your Friday/Sunday strategy seems brilliant. The Saturday crowd attracted a lot of non Hifi people specifically, and a lot of people in general. The other two days would be much less crowded. Probably Friday even more so. Andrew Singer definitely made his presence felt this weekend. Can't say he is a guy I would buy from, but he does carry an impressive lineup. Murderer's Row of the audiophile world. The new Coincident speaker cable(CST 0.5?) is going to be HUGE. That is, if we can get past our recent history of equating price with quality in this hobby. Here is a 6 foot speaker cable that will retail for $200! Israel told me that it will best a lot of cables out there, regardless of price. He gave me cable advice once before. I was a little bit skeptical back then, thinking he was just another guy who was blowing his cable's horn. After auditioning, he certainly proved to be a man who knows what he is talking about. The fact that so many of us on this site like his cables says something. Question, I have heard most cables disparaged on this site. With the exception of Coincident. That is amazing. Oh, I forgot to mention Nordost in my initial post. I am not a Nordost pusher on this site, but neither do I disparage them. Well, I will say their cables are WAY too forward. If the guy who makes them actually believed what he was saying about his cable's sound at this show, I have to say I am not a person who will ever buy his products. If he cannot match his cables to the right equipment, he just doesn't get something. I would like to hear them in a VERY laid back system. That is the only place I could ever envision them. Or, for people with severe hearing loss(needing Nordost for things to sound natural). I have to disagree with the new Soliloquy speaker(prefacing it with the statement that I did not give it a long audition). I thought the speaker unflattering. More hifi than natural sounding music. Most disturbing is that it looks like this company is going the Acarian route. A company who made it bones with great speakers which seemed to represent tremendous value in the industry. Now, on the road to upping their prices in a big way. I have recommended their speakers many a time on this site. But, if this new speaker represents the future, they will inevitably lose my allegiance. I wish I can remember the other rooms that I thought were commendable, but I guess I could not retain everything. I apologize for this. Some companies were actually impressive. Would love to read the impressions of all who attended the show. Thank you
One more comment on the new, low price Coincident speaker cable. Not only is it a mere $200/6 ft pair, but each additional foot is only $20! I have been screaming about cable being overpriced since joining this site. How we need more cables that compete with anything and carry a low price tag. Not budget cables, but great cables that are not so overpriced. This speaker cable appears to have the potential benchmark status that their interconnect has achieved.
I would agree with Trelja that there were really very few rooms with great sound. I was there on Friday. There was a lot of bright sounding equipment. Even the Cary-Vandersteen setup, while it was still one of the better rooms, was too bright. I heard it playing vinyl via an Aesthetix IO, Aesthetix Callisto. Better sounding rooms included the Legend Audio room where they were demonstrating a small stand-mounted speaker ~$4000 and their integrated amp. This system of course had no bass, but the midrange was as liquid and silky smooth as I have ever heard and female voices literally sounded as if they were in the room. The Burmester room was showing a money- no-object system, which sounded excellent, except that the system lacked that ultimate bass extension which was incredible since we were probably hearing hundreds of thousands of dollars of equipment. The Eggleston room had excellent sound. The system had great impact, great bass weight and the mids (again female voices) sounded close to live. The Soliloquy room (with Acoustic Zen cables) also was too bright but would say that the system demonstrated great transparency, dynamics and impact. As I have heard from others that the cables are not bright, I would definitely be interested in an in-home audition. The MBL room was also showing very good sound. Very smooth midrange although lacking somewhat in impact and upper midrange bite. The Coincident and Silverline rooms were a little too bright for my taste. The Hovland room was demoing a new amp soon to be coming to market along with their HP-100 preamp. The sound was quite bright, even though I have heard the HP-100 at dealers and I know it can sound much better than it did. The Talon room, showing their souped-up Khorus, had excellent midrange, excellent smoothness, dynamics and transparency througout the mids. The system was lacking especially in treble extension and also, in deep bass extension. The Dynaudio room on the second floor was demoing a speaker which was so bright it was almost painful to stay and listen. Didn't stay long enough to find out the model number. Lastly, I went to the Sony 5 channel SCD demo, using the new multi channel SCD-777. This demo was constrained by the capability of the speakers (which were Sony's own high end speakers) and the poor setup. The amps used were 5 Pass X-650's. We heard almost no sound coming from the rear and the front speakers were towed-in way too much, but still, I would say the sound was quite promising and I would definitely consider this 5.1 channel SCD-777 when it comes available in the fall, even though I currently do not have a 5 channel system.
Joe great report, I especially like hearing about cables,
ICs, AC cords, power conditioners that are showing up in
display rooms. I am sure most rooms were playing SACD, but
for standard CD what player or DAC was getting used a lot?
Also were most rooms bi-amped, bi-wired or just single amped? Again great job reporting, when I lived in Chicago
1980-92 they had some good CES shows for high end electronics in the Palmer Hotel I went to, great to be able to go in and talk to owner/designer of company. Would always come away learning a great deal. Yes we need more
great products with low price tag, like the new Coincident
cable you mentioned.
I agree with most here.The Cary/Vandersteen room was impressive.Dennis from Cary was in the room when we were there and had Nick put in Comfortably Numb from MFSL The Wall.After attempts by my friend to convince Nick to turn up the volume,Dennis swayed him to turn it up and was it ever sweet.I don't see any comments about the room right next to this one.This room had the supposed dream system.At a price tag of 236,000 dollars I was not impressed.I also liked the Coincident speakers,sounded very nice.The 85,000 Dynaudio's were nice too,but not 85k nice.I also liked the Legend room for their amps,did not care much for their speakers,especially at 4,000 dollars.I also liked the Krell LAT 2 speakers,they had tremendous bottom end for a small speaker,although they are 10k a pair.The crowd was massive on Saturday and getting in to demo rooms was becoming a hassle.Alot of the rooms were playing music that had no balls.I was sort of upset by that.Also,alot of the rooms wouldnot turn up volumes to levels over people in the rooms talking.Overall it was a good show and for once I was able to weed out some of the overpriced garbage from the truly greta bargains that are available in the audio world.Trelja,great report!!!!!
Dako, you are right, the Krell speakers were great, but at ten grand they should be! I don't quite understand the marketing of a 10 grand small speaker, I mean why not just buy a full range speaker if you care enough to spend $10,000? Maybe it is for rich people who have many systems and insist on the best, even in a small system...but that leaves 98% of us wanting. Happy Mother's Day to every Audigon members mom!!
Hey, did anyone catch the Wilson/Spectral/MIT demo at the Innovative room(the system had bass to die for), or those wild diaphram-bending line source speakers, Airfoil, from Impact? Those were two of the best of show in my view. There was also a good looking 2-way system ($5,400/pr.) by Roman Audio on the 2nd floor that was shockingly adroit at reproducing violin, and acoustic guitar and bass. The speakers use a new patent pending capacitor-less crossover technology from DiAural LLC, owned by Ray Kimber and Bruce Bastian. Best sound for the price was from the Newform Research R645s ($2265/pr.), which, for the money are a steal. Those into HT would appreciate the offerings from Outlaw -- they had a $500 6-channel receiver (65 Wpc, I believe) that really sounded GOOD doing multi-channel. I heard the Vandy 5's and thought they were decent, but were definitely eclipsed by some of the other formidable competition. I have to agree about Red Rose not living up to the hype. The tweeter is nice, but one was always aware of its presence; it didn't mesh seamlessly with the other driver and of course there was no real bass to speak of.
Plato, thank you for jarring my memory about some more of the rooms I was impressed with. The Legend Audio sound was all that has been stated above. It's true, deep bass was lacking, but the overall system sound was better than many at the show. This is now the second time I have heard their amplifiers. All I can say about the Class C Stereophile rating is, BS! Amps like Arcam, Bryston, Conrad Johnson, Rega, and VTL are certainly no better(not to take away from them), and all Class B. I would not hesitate to buy an amp from them. And this is coming from a guy who doesn't like 6550s. Wonder how great these babies would sound with some KT88s. Roman Audio speakers took me by suprise. Never heard of them before. Hope to hear more... Eggleston was also very good. This is one speaker company that sweats the details, and it shows. I mean the theory, practice, design, and construction. While others are fancier on the outside, Eggleston seems to first get the inside of the speaker right. The Japanese amplifier(Nori?) was certainly impressive looking(they weren't playing, just showing). Can't say I would buy them, but they looked interesting. Solid state I liked(coming from a tube guy): Musical Fidelity, SimAudio, and Classe(usually am underwhelmed by their stuff). I suggest that next time we attend one of these shows, we do it as a group. Not so much in terms of going to see things together, but presenting ourselves as such. Trying to make our presence seen, heard, and felt. We can even cover it in better fashion than just my little untidy thread.
Well I got to agree with Plato on this one. The most musicall sound was coming from MBL room.
At half price of HP's Reference room it was a steal.
I would like to add that Mr. Wolfgang Meltzky of MBL has choosen the best by far repertoir to demo his awesome components. Thank you Wolfgang for you hospitality !
On the other side of the show worst sound to me was Linn system at $ 140,000 it was pure disgrace and Ivor himself was there listening to it. I can't just believe it
I hoped very much to hear new Jeff Rowland stuff but no cigar. And yes Trelja TOO MANY PEOPLE. ELEVATORS WERE PACKED!!! NON STOP :-)
Trelja, while i did not go out to the show, i too agree with your assessment of the Legend gear. I heard their demo hear at the Stereophile show in 1999 and it was by far one of the best at the show. Even though their little stand mounted monitors did lack deep bass, everything else sounded phenomenal to say the least.
This in itself demonstrates that it IS possible to get good sound at a show IF you know what your doing. I guess that most dealer rep's, manufacturer's and dealer's don't have a CLUE about setting up gear. Otherwise, they wouldn't get the typically poor results that they do.
In terms of your comments about the Talon's, if one has seen the actual frequency response on these speakers, you would know why Trelja said what he did. Even though they are not cheap by ANY means, they display the same non-linearities as a pair of Bose 301's !!!! I am DEAD serious and NOT joking. NO bass below 100 Hz at all with a big peak slightly above that. It's no wonder they make subwoofers. Their "flagship" model doesn't even really have a "woofer" in it as we think. Especially at that price !!!
Were the horn speakers that were set up with the Atma-sphere's Klassic Audio Reproductions ( K.A.R's ) ???? If so, i've heard the combo before and it is capable of STUNNINGLY good sound. Keep in mind that these are ported designs using large woofers. As the regulars here know, i am no fan of ported speakers as a general rule and i thought that they did quite well together. So did the 20 or so people that gave this combo a STANDING OVATION at Stereophile 1999. How many DEMO's have you ever seen that happen at ????
Linn typically has HORRIBLE sound at shows. This show was probably no different. WAY too much blathering about how great the products are and NOTHING to back up the "bigmouthing". Sean
Trelja - sterling effort! And, what refreshing honesty. I did not attend this show but did attend CES 2001 and the Montreal show. I can therefore appreciate your disappointment. At both of these, there was a vanishingly small number of truly memorable systems. The majority of "high visibility" products (you know these from their ads in the journals), are poor-sounding (for the price). Their inflated reputation is largely instigated and abetted by a highly-corrupt audio-press. Regrettably, this hobby has suffered immeasurably from greed and mercenary practices. One comes to appreciate the extent of this when attending audio-shows with room-after-room of ho-hum (but embarrassingly pricey) systems/components. And, of course, there is the never-ending merry-go-round of buying and selling of this mostly-mediocre gear. Very depressing, isn't it?. This industry sorely needs a good enema.
Hi Joe; Thanks to you and others for reports on the NY show. It's interesting to note how many exhibits you thought were somewhere between poor and not very good. We wouldn't have heard that kind of candidness from Reps. of the big magazines. Do you think that with more time and maybe better conditions, good quality music could have been coaxed from some of those systems?
Of course, I was especially pleased to see that you thought the Vandersteen 5s were sounding excellent, and others, eg Rayhall generally liked them too. It seems I ordered a pair of 5s a couple weeks ago, and now have a 5-6 month wait-- the wait is going to be painful-- but hey, I'm an audiophile and probably need the pain. Cheers. Craig
The Dynaudio room was the first I walked into (Guys, could you put some serious woofers in those tall speakers?). To Talon, did you break-in those speakers before you brought 'em to the show? To Linn, all that square footage and so many of us wanting to be impressed--Begin by turning down the volume, okay? And for most every display, how 'bout a couple Tube Traps (or other acoustical treatments)--put them in the corners and forget about them. We attendees will walk away more impressed and less fatigued. And... Congrats to MBL for a big system that sounded great in a small room... and no doubt sounds even better in big room. Thanks to Sanibel Sound for providing clean sound and a respite from the chaos of most other listening rooms. My favorite: Tenor Audio cloistered up there on the tenth floor with those OTL (tube) monoblocks--warm sound and as pretty as anything there.
I wish I would have met some of you. I agree w/ some not with others. The Vandersteen/Cary was great. I also like the Innovative Audio's(a local NYC dealer)Wilson/Spectral stuff, but was not impressed by the same dealers Sonus Faber/Levinson demo. Other sounds I like were the Alon system (these speakers were huge), the Mirage, and some electostatic speaker I can't remeber (42nd floor, air Foil?) I did like the Talon though did not think it was spectacular. I ditto Telja on the Dynaudio. I was very dissapointed. I've heard so much great things about Dyna's and went in expecting to be wowed, perhaps I had my expectations too high. Also did anyone here the Avantgarde/BAT/Cardas room. They said you will feel like you are actually at the performance. I felt like I was in a dark room w/ a bunch of middle aged guys listening to a poor demo! Same with the Sony DVD demo although to me there SACD demo was good (minus those Sony speakers!) Anyone visit the Nordost room. Horrible sound, but a very entertaining representative (Lars, I believe) All in all it wasa good show minus the Saturday elevator situation. Sunday was much better!
Was that a review or a diatribe? By your own account, the rooms were too small and there were too many people packed in them to give most companies a proper audition. In the case of one company (Creek) you even admit to having heard the gear sound better, presumably in a more favorable setting. Yet none of that stops you from making some pretty derogatory statements about the gear whose sound just didn't meet with your approval. It's one thing to say you didn't like something, it's another thing to trash companies by saying, "Brains and money don't necessarily go hand in hand." At least under the listening circumstances you've described it is. I would have enjoyed your comments more if you'd exercised more prudence in writing your reviews.
Good question Macm -- some of these posts read more like diatribes than objective reviews. Generally, I like to hear what other people think, even if I don't always agree with what they say. But any time someone completely trashes a product after listening to it briefly in a marginal setting, I can't help but believe that person has a hidden agenda or some underlying prejudice that biased their brief listening "session." I always take note of who makes such posts and never pay any attention to any of their advice in the future. Ditto for the posters who offer summary "reviews" that are so contrary to my experience -- and to other people's similar experiences -- they can only be viewed as erroneous or fabricated. Don
Macm and Djjd, I didn't really feel that Trejla was "reviewing" anything but rather offering his opinion on how things sounded at the show. The remarks concerning Talon speakers in particular seems to reflect what has been typically stated about their sound without the proper break-in. It seems to me that a manufacturer that is going to go through the time and expense of doing a show would do all possible to present good sound. I don't think enough of them pay attention to that very important detail. Show conditions notwithstanding, I think all Joe did was state what he heard and what he liked. It should be a wake-up call for manufacturer’s do better. If they can’t or won’t they generally lose out by lost business through lack of interest. A show is a great opportunity for manufacturers and dealers alike to strut their stuff and it shouldn’t be squandered but often is. I ask you this why does Bobby Palkovic always get great reviews of his products at shows? Because he has a better product or is it because he knows how to set up a room to optimize the virtues of his products?
I went to the show and I had a great time....why else would I have stayed for nearly 3 days? It was my first show and I went with an open mind and the sure knowledge that you can't get the best sound in a hotel.
I got to see gear I never see except in a magazine. I got to hear equipment I may never hear anywhere else. I got to talk to writers, engineers, inventors, owners, babes hired as fluff, etc..... Dick Sequerra is certainly a character, but don't mention Day of Day-Sequerra unless you want to hit a brick wall....oops. What does anyone think of his new power conditioner? He says it is great but that is what he is supposed to say. It is being sold under the name of the company with whom he was affiliated at the show. My sieve for a memory is too active dropping all the important stuff...so someone who took notes will have to comment. I really wanted to like Red Rose, but I did not. I saw every room at the show twice, so I got a good feel for the shortfalls of the hotel environment. Red Rose was just too disappointing. I was impressed with the German made Audio Physics speakers. A lot of sound for a small size floor speaker..........the weather could not have been better; the elevators could not have been worse. Ask Jonathan Scull, stuck in an overloaded car for 20 min. or more. We will probably read about his experience in Stereophile next month. Great reports above by all who went. Of course we had a different view on things and we are not all professional reviewers, so objectivity will not be the best. The opinions expressed here are those of the individuals and should not in any way be taken to reflect the opinion of audiophiles as a whole.
If you think this is a diatribe, you are certainly entitled to your opinion. That is exactly what I have been stating here. MY OPINION. I am sorry if you don't like it. But, I am also standing up here big, tall, and proud to tell you that what you complain about is NOT going to change my approach. I will simply give my impressions of what I saw and heard. If you don't like it, fine. Be sure to check out Stereophile's report of the show. It will be rosy all around. My report is aimed at my fellow members on this site. A site where we are not afraid to tell things like they are. It is my HONEST opinion. Good or bad. And, there was a lot of good sprinkled in. If I trash a room, it is because I thought the sound was poor. Simple as that. I have no relationships with any company at the show. I wonder what your reasons are for getting offended at what was written. Just keep in mind that my credibility seems to be OK, as I am not the only person stating certain companies did a lousy job. And, even if I am the only one saying it, that is OK. It is simply my taste. Question to you, would you rather have someone sit here and tell you EVERY room was peaches and cream? If so, I am sorry, but you will be disappointed with anything that you get from me. That just isn't in my personality. I am a big fan of Rogue, and I felt their sound to be bad. Now that I read Snooker14's post, I seem to remember that Rogue was teamed up with Audio Physics speakers. Bad combination, in my OPINION. Snooker disagreed. That's fine. That's why they make vanilla AND chocolate. I have no problems with anyone who disagrees with me. I am no authority in this field. I do expect good sound from people who make their livings in the field, however. Is that too much to ask? And Snooker, I am interested in the Dick Sequerra power conditioner. It is $895, will be marketed through AlphaCore Goertz, and hopefully will help in an issue I experience in my system. They told me if it doesn't, simply return it.
I agree w/ Joe, it was just his opinion and I can either agree or disagree with it. In some cases I disagree, but we all have our opinions. The show also seemed to care as they had ballots for attendees to pick not only the best 3 sounds at the show, but asked you to nominate the WORST sound of the show. I'm sure no one wants to win that one. The ballots don't remind voters to consider room accoustics and such.
This is NEW YORK. Tell it like it is. Enough with the sensitivity training. Unfortunatly I did not have enough time to see every room but I thought the Legend stuff was stand out. I looked forward to hearing the Audio Physic demo. Heard the Virgo once before and was impressed. Is it possible the other AP models on demo at the show are not competitve with the Virgo? One pair was half the price and the other twice the price.
My show report.
Friday was pretty disappointing. I was annoyed at the layout of the hotel, the crowds, signage and labeling, and disappointed by the sound in most rooms. Plus, it seemed that more than half the attendees were either in the industry or with the press in some capacity, so they were busy "networking." Waiting at the elevators, I asked Jonathan Valin of TAS if heÂd heard anything good. He said, "To tell the truth, no. This is the worst show IÂve ever been to. ItÂs appalling, really." I agreed.
Fortunately, things got better for me on Saturday and Sunday, and Sunday was wonderfully uncrowded with a lot of good sound. I find that I need to visit a room several times to get a fix on it, and the first day I usually try to blast through everything quickly. By the end, I can hang out in the rooms that I really like.
Highlights: the Gershman Opera Sauvage speakers driven by the marvelous, handsome, and affordable Kora tube electronics from Toulouse, France. This was wonderful sound and the Gershman folks and the people from Kora were all delightful.
Biggest "find" for me was the TacT Audio rooms. They were showing the digital room correction and digital amplification driving the Dali Grand speakers in one room and some B&Ws in the other. I think the Dali Grands in particular sounded wonderful and the effects of room correction were obvious and significant. I think IÂm going to take the plunge and try it out, knowing full well the set of tradeoffs I may have to make (IÂll have to run analog and SACD though a D-to-A--egad!). But doing the room correction will teach me so much about whatÂs going with my system that I think it will be worth it at least as an experiment. And those Dali Grands! Not terribly detailed, but tonally very much to my liking. At $5K or less they are very promising.
I visited they Vandersteen room all three days. Vandersteens always sound overly sterile and uninvolving to me, but on the third day, all that changed. It must have been me, because they system was unchanged. I heard an enormous and focused soundstage, wonderful authority, and a sweetness and warmth that made me want to listen. Great sound.
I spent a fair a mount of time in the DiAural room, which featured speakers from Roman Audio using drivers from Cabasse. They shared certain sonic characteristics with Cabasse speakers (fat bass, soft highs), but I think thereÂs something important going on with the DiAural crossover network. These speakers were so remarkably smooth and fatigue-free through the midrange that I could have listened to them forever. The only other dynamic speaker I have heard with a similar quality is the Reference 3A, which also has a very minimal crossover, but the DiAural is doing something else. I think it has a promising future.
Other good sound: the Triangle speakers, including the amazing $495/pair Titus. The Audio Physic Spark driven the Rogue electronics. I actually preferred this to the larger Audio Physic speakers with Hovland electronics in the adjacent room.
I spent a lot of time in the Coincident room and while I liked the sound (and really liked Israel Blume), I wish I had liked it more.
Others seemed to not like the Dynaudio, but on Sunday they sounded glorious to me. This is the new scaled-down Evidence, called the Temptation and priced at $30K. The tweeters in these things sounded amazing to me. Fist time I have ever liked Dynaudio at a show.
A surprising lack of analog playback in at the show. And a shocking lack of SACDÂnot sure I heard any. Both of these in sharp contrast to CES.
Disappointments: Talon. I went twice and I just donÂt get it. Very poor demonstrationÂI think those guys from Talon donÂt know what theyÂre doing (the guys at the show, I mean). Sounded good in some respects, but not much like music (to my ears). Alas, Red Rose did not sound as good here as at their store or as they did in either of two rooms at CES. Too bad.
Biggest waste of time (besides waiting for elevators): having to endure the midlife crisis ramblings of Elliott Fishkin of Innovative Audio while waiting for the Wilson Audio demo. But I did it twice because the Watt/Puppy 6.0 sounded so good and the demo was done by the terrific Peter McGrath. I donÂt understand why that speaker is seemingly ignored in Audiogon discussions because it seems to do just about everything at a world-class level.
The Keb MoÂ concert Saturday night exceeded my expectations in every way. A great show. Thank you, Keb Mo and Sony. Joe Lovano was also a treat. If anybodyÂs listening, how about Gary Bartz next year?
Also, I love the flat-panel plasma displays. RuncoÂs 42 incher with Arcam electronics in a Sound by Singer room absolutely blew me away. I want it! (By the way, kudos to Sound by Singer for the great signage in their rooms and for the variety of systems they showed, including some that were truly real world.)
So in the end I had a great time. Next year the show is the same weekend (May 10-12), same hotel (yuck), but IÂll be there!
Due to the large crowds and my impatience in waiting more than 10 minutes, I didn't see or hear everything I should have. However, I must say I was mightly impressed by Sony's SACD demo. Kudos to them for renting a large room and giving it a thorough acoustical treatment. The room had a dead, almost an anechoic chamber like quality. Their decision to keep attendance low in each demonstration made it a comfortable, memorable experience.
As for the three selections played: one pop cut (James Taylor) and two classical selections, my reaction was that this was some of the best sound I have ever heard. Soundstaging, depth, and scale were extraordinary. As much a high-end snob as I am, I have to admit that Sony's flagship speakers ($16K a pair) sounded superb. No doubt some of this was due to the room treatment and Pass X600 amps, but if that's what it takes to make good audio, then
congratulations to Sony, they did it right!
Now, the organization which demonstrated one of Harry Pearson's "dream" systems should take heed and follow Sony's example. HP's collection of huge, expensive, and snobish components were "boom and sizzle" compared to Sony's holistic approach!
Trelja--First off, my comments to you were not intended to start any sort of flame war. I realize you were just stating your opinion, and I think we all recognize the time you took to record your thoughts for the membership here. I certainly don't have a problem with differing opinions. To each his own, as they say. My point was simply this: Having heard the gear under such poor listening conditions, you crossed the line from stating your opinion in the negative to essentially campaigning against certain products. It's like the difference between "I didn't like what I heard" and "this is garbage under any circumstances, don't waste your time." Knowing that you reached your conclusions in an overcrowded, undersized room in some hotel with a lousy elevator, that strikes me as just a little unfair. It's unfair to the companies you disparaged, and it's unfair to the membership that might be considering the products you put down. I think we've all been influenced one way or the other by online reviews/opinions we've read. I don't think it's right for anyone to dismiss a product as essentially junk unless they've given the product a fair shake under proper listening conditions. The issue isn't with your conclusions, it's with the way you arrived at them, and the force with which you then stated them. For the record, I've heard some of the gear you criticized (under much better listening conditions), and I can say that it competes with the best in its class. I won't get into makes and models as that is not my point. (And no, I don't work in the industry.) In summary--yes, we're all entitled to our opinions, but you don't do anyone any favors by telling them to look elsewhere when you really can't say you've properly auditioned the product yourself. It's a matter of fairness.
Macm - Once again you said precisely what needed to be said without being uncivil or vindictive. Thank you. For the record, my earlier comments were not directed at Trelja's post in particular, though I too feel he crossed the line from offering an honest opinion to engaging in irresponsible negative campaigning. "Refreshing honesty"? Such arogant, absolutist, matter-of-fact criticisms -- based on a brief and unreliable listening session -- are not only unfair, they can be devastating to low-volume, high-end audio companies trying to explore new directions and advance the art of music reproduction. I'm actually surprised a few other Audiogoners tried to defend such rash statements. Tubegroover - I've valued your posts in the past, but perhaps you should read Trelja's remarks again: he never suggested the Talon speakers at the show needed to be broken-in or that poor set-up or room acoustics could have played a role in shaping his impressions. Instead, he stated categorically, and without allowing for any other explanations, that it is a "lousy sounding speaker." Since Trelja was aware that there are many other experienced listeners who are quite impressed with Talon speakers (see, e.g., his post trashing Legacy speakers in the 9-11-00 thread "Talon Khorus"), he should have at least allowed for the possibility that what he heard at the show wasn't the speaker's fault. He did not. Trelja could also have allowed for the possibility that maybe he just didn't like the unembellished, highly-revealing sound of the Talon because he personally favors warmer speakers like Vandersteen (which he praised) and Coincident (which he owned). No mention that this might have played a role in shaping his impressions either.
I wasn't able to attend the NY show, so I can't say how the various products criticized in this thread sounded as they were set up for the see-it, touch-it crowds. I'm sure many of the products did sound poor given the circumstances. But people need to keep in mind that such ad hoc venues are not reliable testing grounds and that each of the products in question may have real merits when tried objectively in a proper setting.
I haven't suggested before, and I'm not suggesting now, that people should censor their opinions. I do, however, feel we each have a responsibility to ensure the way we state an opinion is not slanderous or unfairly critical. I also believe each of us has a responsibility to discuss the possible factors that may have led us to a negative opinion of a product, particularly where the opinion is potentially very damaging and contrary to other reported opinions. As Macm astutely noted, it's not so much what you say but how you say it. Nevertheless, this is an open forum, and if you chose to act irresponsibly and severely criticize a product based on a quick listen in a marginal environment, without describing possible contributing factors, that's up to you. Just don't expect me to trust your opinions or advice ever again. And Trelja, if you're upset by this criticism of your post -- made from a few of your remarks and without my taking the time to get to know more about you -- perhaps this will help drive the point home. You've lost my respect, and since you are "NOT going to change" your shameful ways, you won't be getting it back. Don
Djjd, you lost respect for Trelja because he reported back to us all what he heard? Was it Trelja's fault that some of these rooms were not set up properly. You were not at the show yet you blast Trelja for his opinions on what he heard. If telling it like it is is shameful then we need more shameful posters like Trelja and a few less cry babies.
When Stereopile comes out with it's show report I am sure you will feel vindicated. Djjd, you've lost my respect, and since you are not going to change your shameful ways, you won't be getting it back. Trelja, thanks for telling us what you heard.
I found the Sony SACD room extremely impressive. I appreciated the natural frequency response with deep- yet not bloated bass. I found the Sony speakers to be of high quality. They are designed and manufactured by a small Sony high end division in the US and have a true high end pedigree. The resolution of SACD and the realistic presentation of space were exceptional. I also found the Red Rose Music and Krell rooms especially musical and realistic- without the bass problems troubling the larger systems. I was pleased that there seemd to be an increased interest in music reproduction at this show. Although the crowds were large on Friday and Saturday, I was happy to see so much interest in high end audio. I enjoyed the show.
I have a question about the rooms at the CES. Yes at times they were obviously crowded and sometimes noisy (sometimes not). The rooms are average size hotel rooms. Most of the rooms in my home are less ideal than these typical rooms at the Hilton. Tell me, what kind of rooms is this equipment designed for?
Trelja- thank you for telling us what you heard.
The vendors at the A/V show are supposed to be the most concerned with the proper demonstrations of their products, after all, they are trying to sell you something. Instead of the majority of companies making an extra effort to enhance their presentations, and a minority of companies being careless, the opposite was true. I make allowances for the hectic atmosphere and technical difficulties, but it seems as if half of the products were not ready for prime time. Perhaps cables were not broken in, or speakers were not broken in, but what does it say to you about a company that doesn't care enough to get the details together, or worse, employees that can't tell the difference between a good sound or harsh sound? I offer an example not from the show, but one that makes the point. I went to the Sony Style store in NYC last week to buy a few SACD's. They did not have a way to show customers all of the SACD's that were available, only what they happened to have in stock. A manager promised to mail me a list, and it never came. Furthermore, their flagship Home Theater room had an older model, non progressive scan DVD player in 4/3 mode when it should have been 16X9. Considering they will make the most profit from software, and should present their products in the best possible way on their own turf, this is ridiculous. Don't get me wrong, I'm not a Sony basher, in fact I just got the Sony DVP-9000ES, and it surpassed my already high expectations. I am saying that the same kind of carelessness was evident at the audio show, and yes, many of the speakers did not sound very good. These manufacturers had every opportunity to get it right, and blew it. Don't be too hard on Trelja, he did us all a good turn by reporting his experience. If he wasn't tactful enough for some, or didn't take into account all of the variables that might have skewed a manufacturers presentation, the companies only have themselves to blame. Meanwhile, back at the ranch, talk about the Emperor's New clothes, who was fooled by "The Harry Pearson Room? Quoted from The Absolut sound..."it is clear that we now stand on the edge of a breakthrough to a new kind of realism in the reproduction of music in the home". His $236,000 system was
just plain wrong. Many great components were combined to create the clearest, hardest "sound reinforcement" type sound I have ever heard. It was as if you were at a concert with an extremely clear system, but subtlety, and true musicality were sacrificed to the god of bombastic presentation. Put simply, the sound hurt my ears, and a few other people's ears that I know.Here we had a Burmester belt drive CD transport, DAC and power conditioner,that costs $65,000, A Clearaudio $27,000 turntable rig, Conrad Johnson's Art 2 line stage preamp $16,000, Edge NL12 Amplifiers (aptly named),Groove phono stage($15,000), $53,000 worth of Nordost cables,VTL MB-750 power tube amplifier at $20,000 each ,Wisdom (?) Loudspeakers,$38,000, and it really offered very little in the way of real listening enjoyment! Amazing! This definetely proves that you can throw money at something, and it doesn't necessarily make for a good result, not to mention all the well meaning, pleasant, but misguided smiling faces on the presenters at this demonstration. Also, I must say that having the show on Mother's Day was a serious timing error! Thanks to all the members for posting their impressions of the show. I couldn't spend as much time as I would have liked to at the show due to relatives arriving from England.
Djjd – Let me explain my defense of Trejla. Hi-end audio is a very specialized field with a relatively small group of individuals and a very small group of manufacturers. Most of us live in markets where these products aren’t readily available for audition without traveling a distance. My guess is that most of the smaller designers of these products aren’t in it for the money so much as the satisfaction of lending their talents to the improvement of SOTA sound. Maybe they feel they have something better to offer than is already out there. Whatever their reasons, to get attention, that is to present your product in the best possible light, all efforts should be made and no stones should be left unturned. A 101 class in marketing might just help some of these designers that don’t seem to have a clue.
Now if you have a small manufacturer that is spending several thousand dollars to present his product for hundreds if not thousands of potential customers to hear, why would you not spend THE TIME and added expense to make sure that your product is sounding its best? A very good point was made by Joekras, we all don’t have ideal listening environments. I’m going to pick on Talon again for the simple reason that I have heard exactly what Trejla has stated about what he heard, and from owners. They take several hundred hours to break-in. My question is why don’t the Talon folks break the speakers in BEFORE the show? Duh, am I missing something here? I may or may not hear their intrinsic virtues during a brief listen but I’m certainly going to give more consideration if I hear them at their best. I read exactly the same comments from professional reviewers at the CES in January. These manufacturers are asking a lot from potential customers to just write off the fact that “show conditions” were the basis for poor sound. I say let the chips fall where they will. If a manufacturer IS NOT savvy enough to realize the opportunity a show presents in showcasing his product, the fact is he isn’t going to last in this tough, competitive world of hi-end audio and as far as I’m concerned doesn’t deserve to. Hi-end audio is a hard-nosed unforgiving business, more so than many. These guys need to wake up to the fact that first impressions are the most important. They need to take advantage and seize the moment. I say if they don’t know how to set-up a room HIRE someone that does. As far as I’m concerned there is no excuse for some of the poor sound I’ve heard at the few shows I attended other than lack of effort.
One final word, Trejla or any one individual that posts here on Audiogon isn’t going to influence my opinion or anyone else’s concerning any particular product. We are as individualistic and opinionated a group as any I can think of. I certainly value yours and Macm’s opinion as well as Joe’s. I hear in Joe’s comments an absolute frustration, maybe even a general admonishment to manufacturers. They really need to do better if they want our business. We are talking about products with price tags in the multi thousands of dollars. I don’t know about you but I have both hands on my wallet and before I shake one hand loose long enough to plunk down the long green, I’m going to be certain about what I’m paying for and I won’t be influenced by anything more than my own ears.
Looks like some people don't mind when others share an opinion just so long as it lacks any sense of emotion or commitment. Sorry, not my cup of tea. By putting a little of themselves into a dissertation a writer makes their work more interesting and believeable. Understanding that just because it's in writing doesn't make it true *is* important to this perspective. Otherwise the tendency is to take things too seriously.
I liked Trelja's review of this show. His sense of excitement made me want to be there in spite of the obviously downsides.
Thanks to everyone for both the support and the criticism. As I reported previously, I simply reported my own impressions. Good or bad. If anyone has a problem with them, that is fine. You can either accept it or reject it. But, you will be getting it from me. I don't care who you are, I will not sugar coat something. I hold the high end manufacturers to a high standard. If you have a problem with that, tough. If I step on some toes, that is OK. Not everything in life is perfect, or deserves praise. I did praise those who I felt worthy of it. Likewise, I torched those worthy of it. No excuses. No apologies. As Joekras states, we are East Coast guys. We tell things like they are. If you are into BS, I am sure you can find those people too. From what I see, the vast majority of what I have stated has been echoed by others who either attended the show, or have experience with the product. That tells me I am more close to the mark than I am far. Those opinions are coming from some of the most respected members of this site. I don't think I can be unhappy about that. I'll put these people up against ANYONE in this industry. There will always people who don't want to hear whatever message. Some more opinion... The Talon speakers have been trashed by many here. We all have basically the same opinions of them. That should speak volumes. Sean's analysis of how the speakers measure mirrored my impressions perfectly. I will again ask, this is a speaker with a 5 digit price tag??? I haven't heard them broken in, but from the way they sounded at the show, they have created a lot of hype(in Stereophile and on Audiogon) over an inferior(yes, you read that right) product. I am confident anyone with a good sense of sound would not plunk down that kind of money for such a speaker. Their finish is excellent, their design is beautiful, their ad copy first rate. The sound at the show was HORRIBLE! I buy a product based on how it sounds, not how great the finish, design, or advertisements are. If the speakers were not broken in, and do sound much better than they did over the weekend, the people at the show should lose their jobs. I know if that was my company they would. They just cost me A LOT of business. Now, on to Creek. This is a Stereophile Class A rated integrated amp that they decided to pair with a decidedly inferior pair of speakers. What came out? Bad sound. Suprise? No. I gave Creek a compliment by saying their stuff can sound much better. Whoever made the decision in pairing that amp with that speaker did the company a tremendous disservice. Maybe they should lose their jobs. The point of a show is to make your product sound as good as possible. So maybe a person with no local dealer will have his interest piqued enough to buy. I am lucky enough to have my dealer carry Creek. I know what it can do. This was not that. Now who appears in a worse light, the Creek people at the show, or those who want to gloss over Creek's shortcomings in setting up a good system? Dynaudio is one of the class marques in speakers. Why do they not know how to make an $85K speaker, in a very good room, sound good? I didn't bash Acarian, just stated that they used to make speakers which were reasonably priced, and didn't absolutely take over a room(4 gigantic tower - the only speaker they showed). No longer. Lots of us stated that Red Rose was not what they hype. But really, did we actually expect a speaker with a 5.25" woofer to sound like a full range speaker? Something about the laws of physics kicking in there. The horn company that showed with AtmaSphere was awful. In a second floor room(read big - which should mean good, and one of the two main floors) they had no one in there. I stayed a good five minutes(because I like AtmaSphere so much), and watched people walk out looking as if they just sucked on a lemon after just 10 seconds of listening. My comments about Linn are exactly what everyone else wrote. Too much bass(in a big room) and too bright. We are all welcome to our opinions, regardless of whether we agree or disagree. However, you will not be able to quell mine, no matter how hard you try.
Trelja, I must commend you on your systematic approach towards reporting on the show. You must have taken notes, and even with them I do not believe I could have been so thorough. Thank you for your report, your opinions, and your defense of the manufacturers doing a poor job. I will now relay a story of one manufacturer.
I have a friend who is building speakers. He was playing them for days and days before he carefully packed them for shipment on wednesday. When these speakers were set up the first time in the room friday they were horrible. (as told to me by my friend) They experimented with room treatment and to no avail. The bass was really missing and the stage was not up to standards. My friend told me "I was about to pull my hair out" when the cause of the bass problen was found. One of the walls was between them and a storage area. This wall was very thin and was causing the problem. My friend told me had they not discovered the problem he would have pulled the speaker from the show. It was 10 PM when they started tearing the system down and moving to a better position. It was very late before everything was ready for the show.
I felt that everyone should know that some people do care how their system sounds and apparently others do not.
May I repeat my question? How many rooms had no or poor acoustic treatment? BTW, thanks for the thorough post.
And Joe, thanks for bailing out my 5350SE. I have been crying for a couple of days now, but I have just unpacked her and put her back in the system where she belongs. Whew, that was close.