Unbelievable turn out for first time show, I think we owe LAOC a debt of gratitude for making this the success it was.
I was told they ordered five thousand lanyards (the cloth loop over the neck to hold the badge) and that Sunday morning they had run out. If this is an accurate count of attendance it's a huge success.
I really enjoyed myself, lots of great people there to visit with in addition to the music.
For a first show they did a great job. I hope they have it again next year.
Unbelievable turnout..unbelievable prices....I guess the economy is turning around and more millionaires are in the market for audio goods.
Looking at the component prices that Mribob has listed...it really is out of my range to even think about.
I am sure there was some great sound.
I thought the TAD monitors were extremely coherent, but just too much SS in the system to my taste (my complaint in many rooms to be honest---big buck SS was def on display at this show).
My favorites were Lotus, Reference 3A, and Evolution Audio at there respective pricing points.
I agree; a lot of solid state that restricted the speakers in many instances. For some of the top speaker lines the rooms were full, but I kept looking around and thinking, is anyone else not hearing a lush or dynamic mid-range?
Next year I'm bringing my VAC amp!!
Besides the curious who don't buy always a spendy minority with discretionary income no matter what state the economy. What are they going to do with their dividends from seven figure investment accounts, inheritance windfalls, etc. - Buy real estate? Pour more into the stagnet stock market? Blue lights and garden hose cables are so much more fun.
This was indeed a great show for the first time in So Cal.
I was disappointed with how many systems were just simply bland, ...... boring. There were far too many rooms that I entered but immediately left as the result was like a friend with me said, "it just sounds like a Best Buy demo". Of course we have to remember these setups were done in less-optimum rooms with minimal time for tweaking, but the simple fact that a dozen or so rooms could bring the music alive meant that it can be done.
For me, by quite a stretch, the Estelon/Edge setup was the most impressive. In so many rooms I waited patiently to get a front row seat, and far too many times I waited and waited for the magic to arrive...and it never did. Upon entering the Estelon room, there was something immediately different. There is much critique lately on the "problems" with Accuton drivers. The Estelon designer must be doing something right as I heard no hint of brightness or edginess with these speakers. System setup and integration here surely had a lot to do with the success of this setup, but these speakers were truly special. The exhibitor mentioned that they had shown these speakers with many electronics, but this weekend it was with Edge and the Edge clearly contributed much to the success here as well. If I had the $44k, an impulse buy for these speakers would likely have occurred!
After being a planar guy for 10 years now, I've only heard a few dynamic-driver based speakers that impressed me like the Estelons. I was disappointed to not hear Avalons at the show.
I was eager to hear the Brooks Berdan room with the VTL setup. But as usual for me, the Wilson speakers were uneventful. My friend exited the room quicker than I did as he too was disappointed. I can only imagine what a pair of Avalon Eidolons would have done in that room! ...... or Sound Labs....8-).
The sound from the big Focals was very good as was with the Tannoys. The Focals being in a bigger room than many other setups may have been an advantage here.
A couple other rooms that I was eager to visit were the Bluelight and MBL setups. The Bluelight setup sounded very clean but it just did nothing for me. Perhaps it was the music being played at the time. But I left being very VERY disappointed.....just nothing to want me to stay and listen more than a couple minutes. The MBL system too was impressive with it's technical performance, but I had a similar feeling here as I did the Bluelight room. I really need to hear the MBL 101's in my home with the CAT JL3 amps.
The Gene Rubin setup was one of those impressive setups. For a fraction of the above setups, Gene had something special. The small Harbeth speakers driven by Naim and a new UK turntable with low-priced Dynavector cartridge was truly impressive. I knew nothing about any of these product lines. System integration and setup is truly everything.
One thing that I noticed was that every setup with Cary electronics greatly impressed me. I've never heard Cary at my home or at a dealer, but something was always "right" here. This was especially true for the MIT room. The sound was detailed and rich and dimensional and not the typical tubey sound often reported with Cary products. If I was new to high performance audio systems or was looking for an upgrade in preamp or amps, Cary electronics would be at the top of my audition list.
And finally, the "jaw-dropping" sweepstakes award for "you've got to be kidding" was the Napa room. There was no other word for this than, Wow. The setup was a $400 tube integrated amp driven by an ipod (analog driven) into a $200 pair of mini speakers on stands approximately 3 feet tall. I have never heard such performance from anything remotely close to this price....and speaker size. There was ambience and dimensionality like the vast majority of the far more expensive systems at the show could not achieve. I purchased this system for $480 (stands not included) after the 20% show discount. I've been known to pay twice as much for a power cord!
Great thanks to the LA/OC audio society for making this even happen.
One thing that was very disappointing was the band in the courtyard that forced many rooms to shut down their demos. The sound permeated and competed too much for the room demos to work without being compromised by the external sound.
Too bad, I was looking forward to hearing the Maggie 3.7's and some other setups that literally just stopped.
I've already mentioned on a few threads my love for the Blue Light room, surely the Dartzeel/Playback Designs ultra expensive front end had something to do with it but those Evolution Acoustics Speakers are still something else.
Like Jafox, I also noted the rooms that used Cary were the better sounding rooms (on average). Quite surprised by that as well. Worst sounding room to me was the Vivid room...just dead sounding.
I missed the Napa room, that's too bad, it sounds interesting for an office setup.
Jafox, is NAPA a dealer or manufacterer? Sorry, I've never heard of them before. If a dealer, what is the brand of the amp and speakers you bought? Thanks!
Mofimadness, here is the link: Napa Acoutics
See Michael Lavorgna's coverage of the Napa room:
Napa Acoustic aka Xcellus
US Representative for Mistral Audio tube gear and the US importer for NBIEN loudspeakers and JIB-Germany cables.
Did you guys airdrop in or take a bus....
I drove up from 60 miles South and parking was awful. None on site or next door, where they caught on pretty quick.
I ended up down at the bank. worked well and no charge, but I wish I had been warned.
I liked EVERYTHING but a few rooms. I didn't like the VMPS ribbons and those gigantic Focals? Small room? (for them, at least) The other system I didn't like had horn drivers. I walked in and out within 30 seconds.
Joe Rogers, a Southern California favorite is back with a new, small stand mount RSL mini monitor. This little slot loaded beauty sounded terrific. I don't know how he did it, but he bought his name back and is now a going concern.
Audience, another SouthernCalifornia operation also showed there huge tall linesource with like 16 identical drivers. The SAME driver, used 2 at a time with a passive radiator made some nice sounds. I was impressed at the clean boom free low end.
And for you SDFR guys, Voxitiv made an appearance. NOT Lothar or Foxtex. A proprietary driver in an enclosure made by Shimmel, the Piano folks. Fit and finish? Befitting a grand piano.
I loved the room with Pass amps and those inexpensive AudioEngine A5s....were a terrific value. If I had a youngster in college, you can bet that'd be part of a dorm system.
I loved the Sanders / Magtech room, too.
Other things that caught my eye were lots of R2R and computer based systems, some showing the PSAudio product.
no way to post a photo?
I think they should move it down to San Diego. Where you can find parking.
Thanks for the links guys!
Magfan, where is San Diego...;0)
BTW, I went into the RSL room, wherein I proceeded to get roped into
re-organizing his set-up..;0(
I moved the speakers more into the room ( so that we were essentially listening in the near-field), flipped them upside down ( so that the tweets were now on the top) and toed them into the room a little more. We then played with the absolute phase, ending up with changing the phase to the sats and leaving the sub alone...After this I felt that the little system began to boil a little. I think everyone in the room agreed.
Joe decided that my tweeks were ok- I guess? BUT then moved everything back to its original position, which promptly emptied his room...:0(
Some good sound in the Magico/Synergistic room IMHO. Not good in the Big Focal Grande Utopia EM room! ....IMHO,a perfect example of a speaker that is simply too large for a room, wherein shoehorning it in creates a disaster.
////06-07-11: Magfan wrote
..parking was awful..
..I ended up down at the bank. worked well and no charge...
.. I didn't like those gigantic Focals...////
well.. that's a unexpectable surprise :-) sorry nothing personal, but no wonder why guy looking for free parking didnt liked "those big Focals" we like that side of world where we a living.
I have heard very few demo's which I can say honeslty represents system abilities.
..and i heard many humble systems which sound very decent on show. and they even did not react to mains voltage or garbage interferentions.
expensive and sensitive systems are NOT plug'n'play
San Diego is the largest small town in America.
I've lived in both OC and SD, and much prefer SD. Just a good example, I was perfectly willing to pay for parking. The website said 5$. No problem. Well, the problem is there was NONE on site. I don't even mind the walk...I walk 3 miles per day anyway. But, tell me in advance so I don't waste 30 minutes++ of valueable show time wandering around with people who don't know the score. I sort of feel sorry for the guy wearing the show poloshirt standing out front telling people to park next door, while the guy 'next door' was sending people away. I started to hear Calliopie music.
How does my dislike of the big Focals tie in to parking? AND I wasn't 'looking' for free parking.......it was simply unavailable on-site and I went down the street.
And right you are. NO demo is perfect or shows the true capabilities of most systems. or maybe any systems. The Focals? Maybe in a large space. I still don't think the variable tipping drivers are anything more than a solution in search of a problem. Do the drivers have reasonable dispersion or not? Just another knob for the techno 'see what I got' weenie to turn.
I'm sure I could find something at that show for a lot less $$$ which would satisfy.
I don't know on which end of the RSL setup I arrived. Sounded at least promising to me and were I shopping in that category, would be a speaker of interest. Setup is, of course, key. Maybe they'd get lost....(probably would) in a large space. Maybe even in my modest living room.
I had a great time, most people were very friendly and courteous even in such tight quarters and I only got the hard, hard sell once, I was very uncomfortable!!!! Next year(hopefully the show will happen) I'll take two days at least and be more methodical in my approach so more rooms can be visited. I missed the BlueLight Audio and Evolution Acoustic speakers, I think it was packed, I got side tracked and never made it into the room and from the feedback I missed one of the better sounding rooms!!! Thanks to everyone involved in putting the show on I'm looking forward to next year!
Elviukai- it had nothing to do with the demographic you offended---the Focals just sucked. 300k of cold, lifeless sound.
Keithr- there is few things-
1)our taste and perception of good sound
2)actual sound of system on audition
expierenced listener CAN deduct sound from variables, and more ever- from personal taste. I have heard much better sounding speakers than Focal utopia III but I respect them. and no way that lets say Zu Audio can compete with grande EM on large windband orchestra.
just better to say " focal sounded not to its abilities" its not realted to this thread but more to whole tendencies on forums. or when somebody say speakers xxxx sounded BAD he should disclose what exactly was bad- lateral dispersion, tonal balance, transition from midrange to hights, soundstage depth, slight nasality in voice or slight sibilance in soprano etc, etc. without that its just bold personal assault-"look they are so expensive and big and hey! look- i didnt liked them!)
The focals didn't particularly sound like music.
Other setups DID float my boat.
Voxitiv, for example, a SDFR in a piano black enclosure made by Schimmel was a terrific intro for me to such drivers.
Sanders? They were playing very nicely with the Magtech amps. Clean, forward sounding with zero grain or stridency. Worth a second listen.
Von Schweikert / Pass. I'd own it.
I didn't get specific about the Focal. It simply didn't engage me at all. And I'll stipulate it may work in rooms starting at 6000 cubic feet. I wasn't there long enough for a better impression. I don't think anyone mentioned the price but YOU, El. but now that you mention it, If I had 65large to burn, I'd build one heck of a room addition with professionally designed accoustics and an all-Magnepan system with Pass amps.
Actualy Focals were 180 large not 65. thank You for Your answers, now its more clear. It wasnt assault, more like thoughts.
BTW. I own Pass and they are most musical(lush, weighty, dynamic yet calm,analogue like sound) SS amps I have ever heard.Do not want to turn them off, even in summer (they are real pain now)
Yes, I will just post my non-binding opinion. My background is limited in the number of systems I've heard. All I know is that I simply didn't like the Focal.
At 180 large! WOW, If I had that kind of loot lying about, I'd be tempted to take a year off and go live in Europe. And eat out every day!
I can only speak for myself, since I don't know what you or most anyone else values in a system.
I'll bet the larger Pass amps would really put a dent in your A/C bill!
Whatever the speakers were with the Pass, i was instantly impressed by the musicalness of the combo. I offered to back my van up and borrow them for a couple months, just to make sure.
If this event comes back, and I hope it does, I'll simply arrange to be dropped off and picked up .....much later.
LOL........ Hilarious Magfan !!!!
Did anyone hear a bad sounding 845 tube?
The 2nd Annual T.H.E. Show Newport Beach was pretty fun. Ive never been to a hi-end show of any kind and being that the event was being held only five miles from my house, it was an easy decision.
Here are my show favorites. -
The MBL room playing an open reel at 15ips. This was by far the best room for me as well as the friend that accompanied me. Unbelievable resolution, wonderful clean lively sound, top to bottom. We first visited the room in the morning and Hugh Masekela was playing Stimela from the album Hope. This amazingly clean, well-produced and mastered material really demonstrated the wonderfulness of the MBL 101s. I have Martin Logan Vantages and so this sound was right up my alley I know they dont compare, this is just for your reference. We specifically went back later that evening to hear The Talking Heads Stop Making Sense and Pink Floyd Darkside of the Moon. This second session really reinforced to my friend and I that the MBLs are something special. This room was an all MBL setup with the exception of the open reel. The system could be played quite loud and yet no fatigue at all. The louder it got the better it sounded. Really amazing.
I really felt the McIntosh room sounded excellent. I very much liked the floor standing speakers that were driven by a tube pre and the MC452 SS amp. They were also using the MEN220 and their power distribution component. All of these components really played nicely together. I must note that I am a McIntosh fan, though all this equipment is out of my league. This is also my first time to hear the McIntosh speakers and they were a treat. I dont know what model they were and couldnt find them on McIntoshs website.
The IG room was pretty awesome as well. Really nice smooth but dynamic sound. I forget what electronics were used, but the sound was pretty stunning. It was easy to stay in that room for a bit of a rest and enjoyment.
Finally, I thought that the Empirical Audio room sounded pretty nice. Got to meet Steve and chat for a few minutes. The sign outside the door noted that the whole setup in the room retailed for $32,000. The sound was very clean and what I really focused on was the midrange and upper end because I wanted to know what the Offramp was doing. Im not sure I heard cymbals sound any better at the show. So clear and precise, no fuzz or timing errors. Just really sounded like cymbals. It would have been nice to hear that setup in a larger room.
Like some others commented, there were many systems that were lack luster at best. Many with six-figure pricing. If the folks setting up these rooms didnt have the skill set to get it done properly, they shouldnt have misspent the money. For instance, I really wanted to hear several pieces including the Modwright Oppo 105. The only reason I spent anytime in that room was to look at that piece of gear up close. Also, wanted to hear the AtmaSphere tube pre/amp gear. I left that room rather fast after taking a closer look at the pre and amps as well. Just very bland non-stimulating sound. Ive no doubt both could have performed better based on all the positive comments here on the Gon.
Overall, I thought the show was great. My friend and I are already planning to go again next year.
whoops, that's the 3rd Annual T.H.E. Show.
I am an old audiophile and it's funny to hear so many people liking reel-to-reel tape! Yes, analog at its finest is the best there is!
Any body visit the NOLA VAC room ? How is your impression?
@ Mribob, I do not know if you knew this, The Ayon room that you claim was magical uses Taralabs cables!, Ayon U.s.a. uses tham on Ayon equipment at every show!,, Happy listening!
I cant remember if the NOLA's Micro Grand was powered by the VAC Amp. Very cool, compelling compact speaker that would be out of my fiscal reach, but had mind blowing bass extension for such small(4.5 inch) woofers. Awesome choice for smaller listening spaces. My budget in their range would be the Boxer, or the Contender, outstanding choices in their own right in all but the most crazy expensive systems. Very nice rendition of Easy Jazz and Classical on that rig.