THE Show Report

KeithR

VIP/Donor
May 7, 2010
3,722
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Marina del Rey, CA
#1
What a fun weekend---I thought attendance was lighter or at least more spread out which helped this year. Saturday had crowds in most of the "big" rooms, but it still wasn't hard to get in some sweet spot time or put a track on. Sunday was more relaxed, fun, and 1/2 the people. I had empty rooms for many of my listening sessions. I ran into some internet friends, but sadly no WBF members for whatever reason. These shows also help forge new relationships with people into music---and that's the coolest part.

What I listen for--- I like open sound with an organic midrange. Absolutely not a detail freak. I typically lean to the valve side, but don't like warm/euphonic sound. Bass is difficult to judge due to the rooms, so with exception of the large/treated affairs, I try not to focus too much on that. I was amp shopping, make no doubt about it so particularly focused on that area. I try to focus on potential, as my treated room quite frankly (despite being squarish) --sounded better than pretty much any room I heard.

Demo material—all I heard was Hugh Masekela, Norah Jones, and Alison Krauss, so did some damage KeithR style with:

Andrew Bird
Calexico
Alice in Chains- Unplugged (this got raves everywhere fyi)
Gotan Project
Florence & the Machine

So here are the 6 best and 6 worst---if there are any in particular you want my comments on, let me know. I sat in sweet spots in almost all rooms (thanks guys for making room for a chair-based audiophile!)

6 Disappointing Rooms:

1. Focal w/ Devialet- in both rooms, just dreadful sound. No mids, way over damped leading edge that sounded incorrect. Flat despite hearing a big and small room
2. Voxativ- there was abundant/weird midrange glare in this room—something wasn’t right. I heard the same glare in the Acapella room as well to a lesser extent….
3. Sonus Faber/Aesthetix- this was closed in, dark dark sound. Poor electronics match imo as I know SF has sounded much better
4. Vandersteen/Audio Research- sounded like I was wearing a hoodie. Nice impact and dynamics, but just rolled off imo. I expect to hear folks disagree with me here. MikeL's comment about the speakers being too far apart makes a lot of sense and could impact treble quite a bit.
5. Scaena/VAC- sorry, this was a bit of a mess after I spent 20 minutes on Sunday there. Glare from the ribbons off axis. Could hear the subs separate from the line arrays so not integrated. 6 subs in a suite was not a smart idea in the first place and overdid the room. The amps had potential (if you can turn off the flashing LEDs on the amps which are really distracting). The sweet spot made things better, but still just not good in that room for over 300k of equipment. Scaena build quality is exceptional however.
6. Audio Note- blech in all respects. This is how I envision sound from the 60s, not 2012.


6 Sounds I liked:

1. Amphion/Hegel- nice budget system at 10k including cables. Perhaps a bit smooth, but nice open extended top end. Errors of omission, not commission
2. Vivid/Luxman- 5k integrated driving 15k bookshelves beat the pants out of most of the rooms there. They even used the integrated’s phono stage to show how ridiculous this hobby becomes lol. Delicacy with texture- natural sounding. Jay is a complete gentleman btw.
3. Magico S5/Constellation- electronics are really clean and smooth (they used the lower priced gear). Hate to say tube-like, but yes that is the word. Loved the orange anodized aluminum sides. Alon and I agreed that Christian McBrides new album is reference material 
4. Rockport/BAT- this room was so bad, shocked they could get somewhat decent sound (outside of bass) in it. Zero cabinet coloration/noise is I believe the reason why. BAT was a perfect complement to the Aviors and the Bardo TT is the one I would buy if I wanted to go analog. Saw it in several rooms….awesome. Nice sweet top end and great midrange resolution.
5. Evolution Acoustics—organic and real as JTinn and I apparently like the same sound. I need to get that PBD soon!
6. Joseph Audio/Bel Canto- really sweet top end and soundstage from Jeff's Pulsar monitors. Nice to hear a non-megabuck system deliver the goods!


Random Thoughts:

Cessaro’s horns were fun and lively, but not totally coherent- and had some minor cupped hands colorations. Those Thoress amps look sweet however! Wilsons sounded just ok with dcs/VTL. Hifi, not music. Lotus needs a larger room like last year. EAR had weird upper mid bass- could be the Maartens. Daedulus Speakers will not measure well if I had to guess---lower mids just not right and this is two years in a row I’ve heard the same thing. Harbeths put me to sleep- and that Stein atomizer demo was pure BS. TAD still needs tubes…Magico Q3 has better driver integration than the S5, but much preferred CA electronics to Soulution ones….Ayon had dry, flat sound…MBLs were, well, MBLs. Estelon speaker had promise but cavern room took away from audition. Kef Blade and Chord is a bad combo---but the speaker was dynamic and extended as hell.

And now for the infamous Ref 75- I will be frank, it did not sound good on Saturday at all. Sure, good dynamics and decent top end extension, but the middle was not organic or textured at all on Layne Staley’s vocal. This was on a full ARC stack. Sunday seemed to be bit better however and there was more texture to the sound, although still sounded dry--- this sound is probably not for me. Also, you can’t roll tubes in the new ARC gear, so you get what you get. Of all the push/pull tube amps, Vac had the most promise imo. CJ did not have the new monoblocks at the show disappointingly.

Cheers,

KeithR :cool:
 
Last edited:

jap

Banned
Apr 7, 2012
542
0
0
#2
And now for the infamous Ref 75- I will be frank, it did not sound good on Saturday at all. Sure, good dynamics and decent top end extension, but the middle was not organic or textured at all on Layne Staley’s vocal. This was on a full ARC stack. Sunday seemed to be bit better however and there was more texture to the sound, although still sounded dry--- this sound is probably not for me. Also, you can’t roll tubes in the new ARC gear, so you get what you get. Of all the push/pull tube amps, Vac had the most promise imo. CJ did not have the new monoblocks at the show disappointingly.

Cheers,

KeithR :cool:
Wrong, you can roll the 6H30s:

www.whatsbestforum.com/showthread.php?2155-6H30-s-Are...
 
May 30, 2010
15,442
670
113
Portugal
#3
What a fun weekend---I thought attendance was lighter or at least more spread out which helped this year. Saturday had crowds in most of the "big" rooms, but it still wasn't hard to get in some sweet spot time or put a track on. Sunday was more relaxed, fun, and 1/2 the people. I had empty rooms for many of my listening sessions. I ran into some internet friends, but sadly no WBF members for whatever reason. These shows also help forge new relationships with people into music---and that's the coolest part.(...)
KeithR,

Thanks for posting your opinions. I would have loved to know what were the cables used in these demos - although sometimes they are chosen because of distributors requests, I like to know what the brands chose to match their equipment.
 

KeithR

VIP/Donor
May 7, 2010
3,722
666
113
Marina del Rey, CA
#5
KeithR,

Thanks for posting your opinions. I would have loved to know what were the cables used in these demos - although sometimes they are chosen because of distributors requests, I like to know what the brands chose to match their equipment.
Which room? I really didn't pay much attention to cables, but probably remember a few.
 

jap

Banned
Apr 7, 2012
542
0
0
#6
Did you or anyone else who was at The Show hear the system in RM.1022 at the Hilton?

Here's a quote from TAS reviewer Robert E. Greene about the sound in that room:

"What can I say? When you're right, you're right.

It was gorgeous, to my ears some of the most beautiful and musically truthful sound at that or any other show. And indeed Alex* got the room really out of the system to a startling extent. The room was small and not promising looking at all in acoustical terms. But the sound was wonderful.

Great work indeed! I gather that the measurement and filter construction process is quite intricate. But whatever is happening, it really works.This exhibit made almost every other exhibit sound somehow speaker-like--sometimes like good speakers, but like speakers. Alex's exhibit sounded like musical sound, not like speaker sound in a way not easy to express in words, but instantly and convincingly heard.

Congratulations are definitely in order! Hats in the air and three cheers! REG"

*Alex Zaets, CEO, Million Dollar Sound- when price isn't the shocker and sound is.....
 

MylesBAstor

Member Sponsor & WBF Founding Member
Apr 20, 2010
11,222
4
38
#7
Did you or anyone else who was at The Show hear the system in RM.1022 at the Hilton?

Here's a quote from TAS reviewer Robert E. Greene about the sound in that room:

"What can I say? When you're right, you're right.

It was gorgeous, to my ears some of the most beautiful and musically truthful sound at that or any other show. And indeed Alex* got the room really out of the system to a startling extent. The room was small and not promising looking at all in acoustical terms. But the sound was wonderful.

Great work indeed! I gather that the measurement and filter construction process is quite intricate. But whatever is happening, it really works.This exhibit made almost every other exhibit sound somehow speaker-like--sometimes like good speakers, but like speakers. Alex's exhibit sounded like musical sound, not like speaker sound in a way not easy to express in words, but instantly and convincingly heard.

Congratulations are definitely in order! Hats in the air and three cheers! REG"

*Alex Zaets, CEO, Million Dollar Sound- when price isn't the shocker and sound is.....
Where did you see that quote? For some reason seems to be hijacked from the website.
 

MylesBAstor

Member Sponsor & WBF Founding Member
Apr 20, 2010
11,222
4
38
#9

KeithR

VIP/Donor
May 7, 2010
3,722
666
113
Marina del Rey, CA
#12
I didn't hit the AZ/Triode room REG refers to, but am surprised he liked it as it was 845 PSET based--- I have owned a Tri 845SE integrated amp and found it non-dynamic, dull smooth sound despite tube rolling. Hence my lack of interest in that room.
 
May 30, 2010
15,442
670
113
Portugal
#13
May 30, 2010
15,442
670
113
Portugal
#14
Which room? I really didn't pay much attention to cables, but probably remember a few.
Do you remember those of the Vandersteen/Audio Research, the Magico S5/Constellation and the Vivid/Luxman? Thanks!
 
May 30, 2010
15,442
670
113
Portugal
#16
As I recall Magico/CA used MIT, believe Vivid/Luxman had Audience, and since ARC/Vandy was Optimal Enchantment---he prob used K/S at the top end.
Thanks again.
 
Jan 29, 2012
1,271
358
83
#18
Kieth,
You really nailed it with your review with the show. Although I own and love horns and single driver speakers, they did not show well. The Acapella's had the "cupped horns" sound and the Voxativ beamed terribly. The Cessaro room was a great experience however. The importer was spinning original pressing mono jazz records, a lot of fun and a lively sound.

Also fun to jump in a car, travel 20 miles and listen to great hifi.
 

MylesBAstor

Member Sponsor & WBF Founding Member
Apr 20, 2010
11,222
4
38
#19
Kieth,
You really nailed it with your review with the show. Although I own and love horns and single driver speakers, they did not show well. The Acapella's had the "cupped horns" sound and the Voxativ beamed terribly. The Cessaro room was a great experience however. The importer was spinning original pressing mono jazz records, a lot of fun and a lively sound.

Also fun to jump in a car, travel 20 miles and listen to great hifi.
Jeff's a hoot, low pressure and vinyl devotee! It does take some getting used to the look of the Cessaro horns-not to mention sticker shock. The horns were really hindered by a lousy room and the resultant boomy bass.
 

puroagave

Member Sponsor
Sep 30, 2011
1,297
0
36
#20
Jeff's a hoot, low pressure and vinyl devotee! It does take some getting used to the look of the Cessaro horns-not to mention sticker shock. The horns were really hindered by a lousy room and the resultant boomy bass.
jeff put on NY's live at massey hall for me. i was floored. so tangible and life like, that LP never touched me quite like that through other systems. of the several rooms with great sound, this was the one system i lusted for.
 

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