Up On The 2300 Hallway...
April Music room was so packed when I first walked by that I had to
double back get in. The Aura
Note, Version 2 (about $2700CDN) from South Korea, was taking a page from the
Devialet book with their All-in-One High-end receiver with a top loading CD
player built right into the unit. That's it—just one power cord to buy!
From there the music went directly to a beautiful pair of gloss black Dali
Rubicon 6 speakers ($7000CDN), putting out a very life-like sound.
Speaker cables were from Verastarr
in Georgia, USA, a small, dedicated company with a hand-made line including
the 100% copper ribbon foil speaker cables used here at about $2200US.
Everything they do is cryogenically treated and they make their own
connectors. With no entry level products, you can expect to pay large but the
music in this room suggests their cables may be a bargain.
Along The 2400 Hallway...
Ofra and Eli
Gershman were present in the Gershman
Acoustics room where the new Grand Avant Garde ($12,900) was
playing music driven by an all-in-one Devialet
amplifier fed by a Naim
CD player below it. The speakers sounded better the first time I heard them at
the Brooklyn show last September where they were driven by Odyssey Stratos
monoblocks with an analog front end, along with some tubes in the preamp. Over
the years the Gershmans have consistently changed the rig at shows. Being a
tube lover, I seem to prefer their speakers when driven by tubes, but that's
not the only factor in the equation. They were certainly very nice with the
distributor KimberCan was on my "Must
See" list since it was featuring the new PS
Audio BHK Signature 250 stereo amplifier, a hybrid design with a
tube input stage and MOSFET power stage. There has been a lot of hype about
this amp and I was more than curious since my first high-end power amp was a
used Counterpoint SA100 with this same hybrid approach. Twenty-some years
later, the PS amp is a lot better producing a taut, focused sound with a
significant liquidity courtesy of the input tubes and an appealing dose of
warmth from the MOSFETs. The design is elegant, but conservative, picking up
cues from the other components in their line. In fact, when I entered the room
I thought I had been surprised with the presentation of the monoblock version
of this amp, but the chassis on the right was actually their power
regenerator. The short stack between them included an Apple
Mac Mini that had been hot-rodded in house at PS Audio along with PS Audio
DirectStream DAC and Transport. Cabling was by Kimber
Kable and the speakers were the Motive SX1 ($3395) from Neat
Acoustics, a British company I've heard on other occasions over
the years and always thought produced a very respectable speaker. Given the
$7500 price tag on the amp, it would have been nice to hear it driving a more
comparably priced and more revealing speaker. Nonetheless, it was a very good
sounding room and the speaker was well balanced for the size of the room. I
got into the bit stream with the classic Take
I had to double
back several times before I could get into the scripted presentation of Sony's
Hi-Res Audio presentation with their SS-NA2ES floorstanding speakers ($10,000US),
but finally I squeezed in for an SRO spot along the side wall. They are good
speakers, but they didn't really grab my musical soul, sounding very smooth
and polite with high resolution but not much jump factor. But then that could
have been a result of the controlled music presentation.
It was now late
afternoon on Saturday and I had pretty much finished the small rooms on the
upper corridors. As I stumbled toward the escalators I came upon the poster
for the very lovely soprano I had heard earlier. So here's her name and that
of her pianist. And again, kudos to Simaudio for sponsoring their performance.
I descended the
long escalator to the Netherlands to get a head start on the conference rooms
I planned to cover on Sunday. At the bottom of the ride was a huge
architectural model of the permanent home they plan to build for the Salon Son
Image... or more likely, the Montreal Frisbee team. Or maybe this is Ray
Kimber's idea of the perfect listening room? I don't know... they were all