With most of the head-fi portable audio and headphones/IEMs done in LAAS 2017 part 1 coverage (we'll be revisiting this later within my report), it was time to move to the big rooms! These are the very special large exhibit rooms on the first floor where all your champagne wishes and caviar dreams can come true; at least audibly. So without further delay we have....
Arnold Martinez from Tweak Studio, a Chicago and LA-based dealer and distributor of high-end audio products, had a table with a variety of tweaks and gear. One of the top pieces on display was the Burmester 808 MK5 ($69,000). This unit has a variety of analog inputs and outputs, and some might recall me first reporting on the MK1 version back in the 1990's. Their 808 preamplifier has garnered international acclaim over the years and is now in its fifth generation. In production for over 30 years, the modular design of the 808 MK5 was revolutionary at its introduction and is said to have lost none of its appeal more than 25 years later. Mr. Burmester remembers that i was the very first USA photojournalist to really report on and get hyped about their top-line gear decades ago. It's great to see the company flourish and is now considered one of the best manufacturers within the high-end audio industry.
Bill McKiegan of Dan D'Agostino Master Audio Systems stood proud, and deservedly so, in front of their room's equipment rack. They brought to LAAS 2017 the D'Agostino Progression Preamplifier with optional DAC module, which we reviewed the Momentum Lifestyle Integrated Amplifier w/DAC & Audio Streaming recently, plus the Dan D'Agostino Progression stereo unit, Esoteric P-03/D-03 transport/DAC combo, with wiring being Nordost Valhalla 2 balanced interconnect and speaker cable. For loudspeakers, they choose Focal's impressive Maestro Utopia floorstanding loudspeakers. With the room being sponsored by The Source Audio Video Design Group, there was great music to be enjoyed! Also of note is our recent review of the Dan D'Agostino Master Audio Systems Momentum Phono Stage Preamplifier.
The Source Audio Video Design Group's Dan D'Agostino Master Audio Systems and Focal/Nordost system sounded incredible! Very transparent, clean, and very full frequency response. My listening notes say "All signal, no noise", and that sums up high-end audio and Hi-Res Audio/Music at it's finest. Music, the way the artist intended us to hear it. Great gear, great people, and of course a great sounding room!
Next up was a full-on demonstration by Synergistic Research. First you'd listen to the system fully tweaked, and then they'd take some of the tweaks away and you'd give the music another listen. Yes there were differences, so Synergistic Research tweaks so indeed work! Their system at LAAS 2017 included Berkeley's Alpha DAC Reference series 2 w/ Alpha USB module, Baetis Reference 2, McIntosh C1100, McIntosh MC 601 and Magico S7 loudspeakers. Of course Synergistic Research had what appeared to be their full lineup and included:
Synergistic Active Ground Block SE
Synergistic Research's Active Ground Block SE is a great tweak as we all know grounding makes a difference in how your high-end audio gear performs. There is no doubt this tweak is well worth trying, as are many products by Synergistic Research. During their demo at LAAS 2017 you could hear music with, and without, their tweaks. In fact they made an impressive video, and you can enjoy watching it below. Well done gentlemen, thanks for bringing great music, and tweaks to LAAS 2017! Synergistic Research gets my vote for Best Tweak Demo At LAAS 2017.