Report By Rick Becker
to e-mail reviewer
In addition to stereo and monoblock power amplifiers, Innersound also has
the RCP-1 Reference Preamplifier with a very trick volume control. (See
Chris Boylan's report). The CD source was a Linn cd player
that, along with the preamplifier, and a Rives parc parametric
equalizer, was on a Harmonic Resolution System stand. For those
wishing to venture into the surround sound arena, a center channel loudspeaker
is available. The entire line seems penned from the same hand (Roger
Sanders'), and presents a coherent, contemporary statement that is visually
refined, being neither under nor over-stated. A slightly smaller Kachina
loudspeaker, which sounded very similar in the next room, is also available.
Chris named the Kaya system Best Stereo System of the show, and I would
certainly echo that it was one of the best, preferring not to speak in
such absolute terms.
In visual counterpoint to the silver and light wood finish of the
Innersound equipment in this room, was a redpoint audio design
Testarossa turntable, built by Peter Clark from Scottsdale, AZ. The
basic table starts about $7500, but with arm, suitable cartridge, and
vibration absorbing shelf, ends up looking more like a $15K rig. The
platter-dampening device is oil and shot filled, weighing about five pounds.
My friend Art Shapiro was present in the room when one of three support
devices under the platform on which the turntable was mounted, slid out.
The turntable nearly fell on the floor, its cartridge screaming as the Morch
tonearm slid across the record. Fortunately, no damage was done, but it
must have been a dramatic moment for everyone involved in the rescue.
When I visited the room, the table was sporting the designer's personal ZYX
A banner in the Linn room asked "Is your Chakra balanced?"
presumably in reference to their new, smaller stereo digital amplifier.
I wish they had been using the Linn turntable that was on silent display.
That takes me up to dinner with my friends Art Shapiro, Mark Katz (also of
Positive Feedback Online), and Loren Frumker. On our way back to the
Hilton traffic was blocked for the arrival of soap opera stars at the Radio
City Music Hall 31st Annual Daytime Emmy Awards. I finally
made my way to the XM Satellite Radio/Delphi Concert, (Thanks for the
VIP ticket, Steve!) and over the course of the evening fell in love with Carla
Lother, Nicole Henry and Joan Osborne. Tom Scott led the great New York
All Stars house band and wailed on saxophone. The concert, which was broadcast
live, was a benefit for the ELF Foundation to support the establishment
of Rooms of Magic for the entertainment of children recuperating in hospitals
around the country. Not only were the performances entertaining, but the
sound quality was the best I've heard at a live performance in quite a
while, if somewhat too loud.
After coffee, bagels and camaraderie in the press room, I started on the 3rd
Floor, beginning with the Manley Labs/Joseph Audio room which has
become such a perennial powerhouse that the powers to be eliminated the voting
for People's Choice Award. But before I tell you how good his room was
this year, let me admit that I was fooled into thinking he was playing his new
floorstanding RM55LE when in fact he was playing the Insider, his high quality
in-wall loudspeaker hidden behind the curtains. I could use the excuse
that I was sitting in the third row, or that it was the first room of the
morning for me, but I wont. Powered by the Manley Stingray
integrated tube amplifier, these in-wall loudspeakers (with the Infinite Slope
Crossover of Joseph's larger loudspeaker) sounded great.
Joseph Audio's big rig, with the RM55LE (priced around $12K, if memory
serves me well), driven by the big Manley Labs Neo 250 monoblocks, sounded
almost as good as the $20K Pearls I heard a couple of years ago. This
year a Theta digital front end and the La Luce turntable with
Manley Labs Steelhead phono stage started the chain. Cardas
wiring, as used in the loudspeaker, carried the signals, and Equi=tech
cleaned up the electricity feeding the system. I've said before that
rooms set up on the diagonal often sound very good at shows, and this year,
Joseph switched over to that orientation. The soundstage was
exceptionally wide and open, and I was immediately drawn into the music.
Once again, I have to say this room was among the handful of bests at this
show. Not only did EveAnna get a big hug for letting me review her Mahi
monoblocks last year, but I picked up a fresh batch of “Tubes Rule”
stickers for my new Tracker that replaces the one I trashed coming home from
the Montreal show in March.
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complete listing of show exhibitors.
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2003 show coverage.