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The Chester Group's 2015 New York Audio Show Report
New York Audio Show Report 2015
Show Report By Rick Jensen


Room 4007 - The Soundsmith
Peter Ledermann held court as MC, DJ, and science professor in his own room. Featured was the new entry-level ("ambassador to the high end") Zephyr MIMC cartridge ($1499), played via Soundsmith's own phono (MCP-2) and control preamps and MOSFET power amps, as well as their deceptive Monarch ($7995) and Dragonfly ($5995) stand-mounted speakers. As usual, one wonders first "where is the sub?" The little speakers are quite dynamic. But the Zephyr MIMC cartridge is equally so. It surprised me with its authority. While not the last word in definition -- which the strain gauges that Peter played later clearly demonstrated — the Zephyr had great detail, clarity and impact and seemed a (cliché alert) bargain at the price. Peter also showed a static (on Friday, anyway) display of the new Frank Schröder Alto tonearm that Soundsmith will be manufacturing at their Peekskill, NY headquarters. "ALTO" stands for Asymmetric Loading Topology — Peter says he told Frank that it had to have a name, so he christened it Alto. The arm, which is austere and elegant at once, will go for $5000 to $6000.



Room 4001 - CARE Audio
The CARE Audio room could not have offered a greater contrast in a modest space. At one end, Sunil Lekhi of CARE had the Peacenik Audio Bastanis Mandala Solo (wow, that's a mouthful) speakers from Canada ($12,900 pr), high-efficiency units crafted of wood and using Bastanis drivers made in Germany. The Peaceniks are an unusual design, with an 18" powered subwoofer augmenting a 12" wideband driver mounted near the top and the Gemini tweeter for the highs. The Peaceniks were driven by the KR Audio VA 350 integrated ($13,900) or the KR Kronzilla SET amp ($27,500) and with the Melco music server ($1,999) run through the Allnic D-5000 DAC ($11,900). Very attractive cabling was from WyWires. The sound was rich and palpable through this impressive "old-school" system. Fifteen feet away were the Devialet Phantoms ($2000/$2400 each), another stunning design from the French manufacturer. They were driven wirelessly from a laptop – that's it — very new-school. The little Phantoms not only play loud, but they play deep and with great clarity. It's hard to see how all that sound comes from those little units, but it does. For New York apartment dwellers, the Phantoms might well be on the short list of short cuts to excellent sound, though they could get you evicted if you are not careful with the volume.




Room 4014 — Audio Note
The Audio Note room was that one room that you find at every show where you just relax and enjoy the music. That is in part due to David Cope of AN, whose musical selections (when I was there, from Sarah Jarosz, Lianne La Havas, and cellist Vincent Belanger) tended to naturalness and clarity of expression. Featured were the new AZ Two D speakers ($3250/pr), floorstanders that are very efficient at 93dB/W/m. While a modest-looking design like most Audio Note speakers, they are nicely finished in black ash wood veneer and very solid for the size. It was no surprise that the Two Ds exhibited the effortless full sound that I always get from Audio Note. They were mated with the P2SE Signature amplifier ($6000). The excellent LPs were played on the TT Two Deluxe ($3650) with the Arm Three ($2000). What was perhaps noteworthy was that David played a number of cuts from the yet-to-be-issued Belanger cello album, and they came from a laptop (not part of standard Audio Note practice), run of course through the DAC 3.1x/II ($9,900). The unfinished album sounded great, if not quite so liquid as the LPs, and served as a nice advertisement for Mr. Belanger's performance during the New York Audio Show 2015.



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