California Audio Show 2013

Sonus

New Member
Jul 8, 2012
117
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0
SF Bay Area, CA
#21
Insider's knowledge: the Raven Audio - Von Schweikert system had a loose cable between the music server and the DAC (both belong to a third party, not Raven or VS). The problem was fixed Saturday afternoon. Tomorrow they'll use a $30,000 CD Player instead of or in addition to the music server. Go check it out Sunday! Stop by and say Hi to Dave Thomson, owner of Raven Audio and super nice guy from Texas.
I heard it on Friday, was the problem there on Friday also?
 

cjfrbw

Well-Known Member
Apr 20, 2010
2,364
137
63
Pleasanton, CA
#22
I just went for one day. However, it's so easy to flub the details I'm not surprised.
 

cjfrbw

Well-Known Member
Apr 20, 2010
2,364
137
63
Pleasanton, CA
#25
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HEADPHONES:

Anyway, here's my tour in brief.

Headphones, the great Stax 009(electrostatic) and Abyss (single sided magnetic planar) face off.

009 was at two booths, one with the tape project tapes R to R and Bottlehead head amp with Blue Hawaii amplifier, the other at Dr. Cavalli's table with the Cavalli liquid lightening solid state amp.

I really liked the Abyss. Technical stuff says the single sided drive creates even ordered harmonics, so I guess I am an even order harmonic guy. It was with the Cavalli Liquid Gold amp and was driven reasonably well with it, good pairing.

I preferred the Abyss over the Stax 009, which had a very small pixel pitch, but was a tad dry, bass was not that greaat. I did not prefer the Stax from either Stax rig over the Abyss, though the Cavalli Liquid Lightening was very nice.

Doc Cavalli said that the listeners tended to be quite polarized in favor of one over the other when they listened. The presentations were very different, with the Stax doing that detailed electrostatic thing, but with the Abyss running neck in neck in detail but providing more fullness and bass. I did not hear the treble problem that some observers claim with the Abyss, so either my ears are burned out or the amp didn't convey it if it was there.

I don't know why, the R to R setup which should have been the bee's knees was a bit tepid with the 009/Blue Hawaii. It's one one of those head scratchers where things just don't turn out the way you thought when you finally get to listen.

Both headphones were "good" so evaluation I suppose is in the context of what do you want to spend and what do you prefer?

That being said, I don't think either one unseated my current preferred rig, a 50 watt Wavac amp with a home rigged transformer adaptor using new Dyna Z565 transformers through an over 25 year old Stax 3n/5n antique headset. The 3n/5n isn't even supposed to have much bass, but with the Wavac, it has bass the other two can't even dream of. The old stax 3n/5n is fast, detailed, but also lush and bass rich in this context.

Another stand out was the Eddy Current tubed amp with PX4 tubes. It sounded best with my own Ultrasone Ed8 headphones (in picture)over some LCD headphones lying around. Considering prices, I can't say this was markedly poorer than the Abyss/009 thing, and in some ways better in the way good dynamic setups can be.

I did not especially care for the Sennheiser 800 rigs I heard, but I will concede they are soundstaging champs.
 

Odysseus

New Member
Jun 3, 2012
24
0
0
San Antonio, TX
#27
I wasn't there on Friday, so I wouldn't know for sure, but as far as I know they didn't connect/disconnect that cable since Thursday, so it's possible that it was lose since then.
By the way, since the cable was loose, some times it sounded great and some times it didn't, so if when you heard it you liked it, it was probably sounding good at that time. In any case I think it's going to sound much better today with the CD Player.
 

flez007

Member Sponsor
Aug 31, 2010
2,899
3
36
Mexico City
#28
Just got back. I guess my crown title goes to the YG Acoustics room this time with the Ypsilon stack. It is kind of "audiophile skeleton" sound, but done so well, I had to concede the title anyway at least with what I heard. I tend to like a little more fleshed out presentation.

With different size rooms and the show acoustics and everything, it's probably not fair to elect a crown winner, but everybody wants one, so there's mine. That gets that out of the way for a broader discussion later. Gives me an opportunity to be a petty bitch.

Anyway, I thought there were numerous excellent sounding rooms, and many of the top contenders that were very close, so it must not have been a typical show.

More later and maybe some bad photography.
More interested in your second or third pick Carl, something you REALLY think could bring back to your place.... :)
 

cjfrbw

Well-Known Member
Apr 20, 2010
2,364
137
63
Pleasanton, CA
#29
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There were very many good setups, I would put them in a cluster at the top with the ear of the beholder making choices for their own tastes and wallets. YG was just the best implemented for what it seemed to be attempting, which was huge, precise imaging.

Talking with the headphone group, I realized that taste is such a determining factor that generalizations are hard to make except isolating certain setups in the top tier of experiences.

I am pretty happy with my home setup so I am not really shopping, either, just a sound tourist. At this point I would never replace anything without extensive audition.

Acoustic Zen Speakers and Triode Corp. Amps.

Wonderful sound, Triode Corp. amps looked to be 845 push pull with another transmitting tube as driver. Enormous, detailed, open, sweet, but with decent body. It was in the top tier of sound even though the demo was tucked away a bit. I preferred this one to the Legacy speaker/Ypsilon stack in an upstairs room.
 

cjfrbw

Well-Known Member
Apr 20, 2010
2,364
137
63
Pleasanton, CA
#30
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Acapella horns:

I was curious about the various horn speakers/single driver types and there were a few at the show.

My overall reservations about these kinds of speakers is that they always seem to have flavors you don't want in the mix for some reason and they rely on resonance which is the antithesis of my favored planar types.

Many horns also have the Cinerama effect. When they first started doing the really large movie screens in Cinerama, they would actually use three screens pasted together. A lot of horns have the three screen effect where the right and left have one sound, and the mingled center image has a different sound, maybe because the center image is synthesized by the brain and does not include the horn emanations.

Playing my vinyl drop ZZ Top "Tube Steak Boogie" didn't have the bass gut impact on the drums of my home system, which surprised me, but that may have been the fault of my recording. Otherwise, the guitars were presented with enormous definition. There was a very slight Cinerama effect, but not much, it was well controlled. Negligible honkiness, good body to sound, this was a good horn implementation, but don't necessarily prefer it to my home setup or the other top non horn systems.

What I would want from a horn system to compensate for the emanations is to rattle my flab a bit more.
 

cjfrbw

Well-Known Member
Apr 20, 2010
2,364
137
63
Pleasanton, CA
#31
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Aesthetix/Spectral/Wilson Alexia:

The setup here was doubtlessly hampered by the wall of glass behind the speakers. As already stated, I thought there was a lack of deep bass and a humpy lower midrange.

Imaging was outstanding, generally a commendable and impressive performance, but not up the standard of the Wilson Maxx setup of CAS 2011, which was really stellar. Spectral + Wilson=winning performance in general. Tubes in the preamps helped.
 

cjfrbw

Well-Known Member
Apr 20, 2010
2,364
137
63
Pleasanton, CA
#32
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Vincent/VTL/ O'Hanlon room;

Those look like baby Giyas.

Just sounded right for no particular reason than it did. Stopped analyzing and started listening. Very nice balance of imaging, fleshed out body, and detail.

I did notice a very slight bit of upper midrange compression, which I attribute to the updated VTL 450's and that I recall from the VTL 450s I used to own. I don't know what causes that other than the massive tube push pull topology.

Liked it a bit more then the Alexia demo, however, the Alexia looks like it is capable of greater dynamic performance in a larger space. I suppose you would have to bring in the larger Vincent speakers for that.
 

steve williams

Site Founder, Site Owner, Administrator
#33
IMO Phillip consistently has amongst the best sound of all rooms at all shows and he has great music as well

BTW talking to Phillip recently at THE Show in Newport he suggested that an uber Giya is under design to rival the likes of Wilson, Magico,etc in performance and price
 

cjfrbw

Well-Known Member
Apr 20, 2010
2,364
137
63
Pleasanton, CA
#34
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Wells Audio room 370: Wells Audio amplifier

I just cannot find what these speakers are, kick self in ass for not noting it at the time. They resemble Acoustic Zen but with a soft dome tweeter.

Anyway, this room gets my "Sleeper"award, enormous precise imaging. Really impressive for small humble room setup.

If you want 90 to 95 percent of the YG/Ypsilon sound in a small to medium sized listening room, at ten percent of the cost, then you need to hear this one.
 

cjfrbw

Well-Known Member
Apr 20, 2010
2,364
137
63
Pleasanton, CA
#35
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Martin Logan/Parasound room:

This one also in the top tier. Maybe a tad dry, I craved a bit of tube sweetness, but pushed all of the electrostatic buttons with speed, agility, deep and wide imaging. The larger size of the stats gave it some body as well, so not as ethereal and disembodied as smaller stats. Good integration of subs at 35Hz crossover.

I thought that this one would absolutely shred my home recorded vinyl CD needle drops because of the stat resolution. It did the opposite and blew them up and made them sound just wonderful. Parasound's designer showed up for some Q&A.
 

cjfrbw

Well-Known Member
Apr 20, 2010
2,364
137
63
Pleasanton, CA
#36
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Zu Speakers/Allnic room:

Reasonably impressive for a speaker breed that I have reservations about, the horn/pseudo horn type/vented box configuration. It definitely outperformed the room it was in, but still slightly honky to my ears.

Single ended 46 based amp putting out a grand 1 or two watts to demo the efficiency.

Allnic L5000 preamp, an updated version of my own beloved DHT preamp. I recognized the incredibly open and fluid midrange/upper midrange of this preamp which is unique to any audio product I have heard, pure audio nectar.

i would cite this as a very, very good demo of high efficiency/tube performance.
 
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cjfrbw

Well-Known Member
Apr 20, 2010
2,364
137
63
Pleasanton, CA
#37
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Sony Speakers

These seemed a bit swallowed up by the space and poorly optimized. The emphasis of the Japanese representative seemed to be on small ensemble classical music.

I like and appreciate the Sony efforts to make a speaker in which all of the elements of driver and cabinet contribute in a positive manner to the outcome, with the cabinet actually part of the sonorousness. I tend to agree with this approach and I like the rich, classic sound of these speakers.

I asked him to play my needle drop CD of Andy Narrell steel drums. It did sound a little jangly on the Sonys, whereas at home the cut sounds wonderful.

It was interesting to see the extremely polite Japanese representative's reaction, which was something like "Ef U very much, please place that one out back with last week's cod so we can get back to our violins".
 

cjfrbw

Well-Known Member
Apr 20, 2010
2,364
137
63
Pleasanton, CA
#38
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Legacy/ Ypsilon pile:

Because of the smaller room, maybe this one had a few apparent aspects that a larger room might cure, such as with the YG setup.

Very large, precise imaging, a bit of boom and sizzle with somewhat hollowed out midrange, the kind of electronic sound you never hear in real life.

That is not to say it is terrible. When very well implemented with the YG/Ypsilon setup, it might even prevail. It is the kind of sound that a lot of audiophiles want and seek.

in the smaller room the setup showed great prowess with the Legacy speakers, but a bit of solid state dryness here, a bit of digital wool in the top end there and in somebody like me, a craving for some tube body and sweetness. I liked it more than I loved it.
 

rbbert

Active Member
Dec 12, 2010
3,416
4
38
Reno, NV
#39
IMO Phillip consistently has amongst the best sound of all rooms at all shows and he has great music as well

BTW talking to Phillip recently at THE Show in Newport he suggested that an uber Giya is under design to rival the likes of Wilson, Magico,etc in performance and price
+1 IME also.

I'm sure I've read about the upcoming uber-Giya other places too?
 

rbbert

Active Member
Dec 12, 2010
3,416
4
38
Reno, NV
#40
cjfrbw said:
...

Acoustic Zen Speakers and Triode Corp. Amps.

Wonderful sound, Triode Corp. amps looked to be 845 push pull with another transmitting tube as driver. Enormous, detailed, open, sweet, but with decent body. It was in the top tier of sound even though the demo was tucked away a bit. I preferred this one to the Legacy speaker/Ypsilon stack in an upstairs room.
Two years in a row I loved the sound of this system at RAMF. I'd like to hear the speakers with other amplification sometime.
 

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