Picking up where I left off with the bluewave Get wireless headphone amplifier, we see how minimal their product is lying here on the table, connected to the Fostex headphones with some serious, pro audio cable. Pierre-Emmanuel Lelievre (left) and Stephane Lepage have really done their homework with this little gem. Just $99 USD for Get and charging cable as a Pre-order special.
Around the corner from bluewave was a presentation of Rock N' Rolla portable turntable rigs that reminded me of the old TV western, "Have Gun — Will Travel". Or did this electro-mechanical wonder foreshadow the coming of portable disco? Maybe when the kid grows up he or she will become an audiophile? Strange seed to be planted, here.
Ona Kingdon, a regular at TAVES, was busy on Friday and Saturday working on a painting. This year, only a few of her works on display directly related to music, but they were good. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org Likewise with the paintings of Sheldon Goldman seen here, not a lot of music theme art.
Bryston set up in the large Waxman 1 conference room, accessed from the Mirvish Hallway where all the open tables just covered were located. You had to be aware of your surroundings to notice this entrance if you were not specifically seeking it out. As usual, the Bryston rig was set up on the long wall with James Tanner holding court on his favorite end of the sofa (actually, just three chairs in a row.) The rig featured the same Model T Active speaker ($8685 Cdn) shown earlier this year at Montreal, but it is not your typical active speaker with built-in crossover and amplifiers — those are housed externally. At Montreal, if I recall correctly, each speaker was tri-amp'ed with a large monoblock and a stereo amp for the bass and midrange/tweeter, respectively. That configuration was expensive and filled up a lot of space. James wanted a more elegant solution, so here we had the new 21B3 cubed three channel amps with a 600 watt channel to drive the three 8" bass drivers, a 300 watt channel to drive the two 5" midrange drivers and a 300 watt channel for the two 1" titanium tweeters. Essentially, he told me it was a 7B monoblock and a 4B stereo amp combined in a single chassis. 300 watts for the tweeters seemed like overkill for the tweeters, but who knows what tricks lie up the sleeves of the boss? The crossover is a DSP unit and the speakers are claimed to put out up to 118dB, full-range — enough to fill your home music hall with heavy metal concerts.
The benefits of the D'Appolito configuration of midrange and tweeter are well known, but Bryston has chosen to go a different route with twin midranges and twin tweeters above them. I questioned Jim about the use of dual tweeters and the resulting comb filtering. His comeback was that sure, we can measure some distortion caused by cancellation, but we really can't hear it. Doubling up on the tweeters gave more acoustic output when needed and took the strain off the drivers, just as using triple bass drivers made the bass more resolving and powerful. The tweeters mounted high on the speaker gave the soundscape an unlimited sense of height with the music I heard. And this led to a discussion of having speakers on the long wall — a trick I learned from Audio Physics' presentations back in the 1990s. He was also using a mid-field triangle with 10' between the speakers and from the speakers to the ears. My triangle is 9' so the sound perspective was quite familiar. Unlike his room, though, my head is just a couple of feet in front of the wall behind my chair, and I use a sheepskin to absorb reflections on the back of the chair. He said that's what Dunlavy recommended — so I guess I'm John Dunlavy Approved! Nothing to be ashamed about there…or in the Bryston room either. This was clearly a solid state rig and it was one of the Best Rooms at the show with effortless power, great dynamics, huge soundscape and excellent resolution and transparency. And then there is the 20 year warranty for those among us who should live so long.
Also new at this show were a pair of powered subwoofers, a smaller one ($4200) with two bipole 8" drivers firing in opposite directions, and the larger with two bipole 12" drivers for $5600. Both subs are powered with a built-in 600 Watt Bryston amplifier. Using twin drivers in sealed cabinets in a bipole configuration is intended to cancel out the vibrations. They were inactive so I couldn't really check that out.
Doubling back out to the main lobby by the ticket and registration desk I found Wynn Audio in the Etrog room where Wynn Wong returned to his top form after a less than stellar presentation in a difficult room at Montreal. Still large, but more appropriately sized for the room here, the Tidal Contriva G2 speakers ($65,000+) were as formal looking as they were eloquent sounding. The Karan Acoustics KA M 2000 monoblocks ($78,000) and KA L Reference Preamp ($24,000) handled the amplification. The 2000 Watt Class A monoblocks have circuitry that determines the bias voltage based on the input level to prevent the amps from running continuously hot.
But the real star of the presentation was the Metronome Kalista 30th Anniversary CD Transport and DAC ($105,000). This was a simply stunning combination of top-loading transport and matching DAC from France. It has been many years since I've hear a Metronome CD player, though it used to be more prominent at the Montreal show. The company specializes in digital playback and two of their more affordable CD players will be shown at the New York Audio Show in November. I had the great pleasure of meeting and chatting with Jean Marie Clauzel, CEO of the company. He has every right to be proud of this Anniversary special edition. The music here sounded as good as the components look. And again, here was another of the Best Rooms at the show.