The New York Groove
By Chris Boylan
here to e-mail reviewer
a little harder to find, there were some excellent systems down in the
basement, ahem, I mean "Concourse." JVC
was showing a professional line D-ILA projector (DLA-HD2K - $30,000) on
the biggest screen at the show - a 135 inch diagonal Stewart Film
screen. At over 11 feet from corner to corner, I expected to see
some sort of artifacts, but on HD source material (mostly clips of the
Tonight Show), there were none to be found -- excellent color purity,
rainbow or screen door effects, no motion trailing and no visible
pixels. It has some impressive specs - 3 D-ILA chips, Faroudja processing, 1920x1080 pixel resolution and a
rated 2000:1 contrast
ratio. To my eyes, it was the best video image at the show.
JVC's D-ILA projector produced the most
impressive HD video at the show.
Ah... the ole
When I walked
across the hall to the Accent Technology room, I
felt like Alice through the looking glass. The Nóla Pegasus loudspeaker
Carl Machisotto split with his Acarian Systems partner earlier
this year, so he formed a new company, Accent Technology to sell new loudspeaker
designs under the named "Nóla". The speaker were driven by not one but two condrad-johnson
Premier 140 stereo amplifiers ($7,000 each), the Nóla's were producing some wonderfully
smooth sounds. (This is an updated, corrected report -- Editor).
Nola's Pegasus (not Proteus as incorrectly reported
earlier) loudspeakers sounded great
driven by a
pair of conrad-johnson stereo tube amplifiers.
Conrad-Johnson's Premier 140 stereo amplifiers
Back on the
sixth floor, I was able to catch up with Alan Yun of Silverline
Audio demonstrating his Bolero ($8500/pr.) and new Sonatina III
($5,000/pair) loudspeakers, driven by his new Moto integrated amplifier
($15,000). The Moto is a very interesting design, using a
combination of 300B tubes for rectification and 805 tubes for the final
output stage, producing 21 watts/channel of pure tube nirvana.
Fortunately, these Silverline
loudspeakers are very efficient (92 dB rated sensitivity), so they took
that 21 WPC and ran with it. A very natural and liquid midrange
and excellent microdynamics. In the demo room, I preferred the
sound of the Bolero, with a slightly beefier low-end, but the Sonatinas
gave them a run for their money at a 40% lower cost. Definitely
worth a listen.
Silverline Audio Bolero and Sonatina III
speakers and Moto integrated amplifier.
Silverline's Moto amplifier - there's nothing
like the warm glow of tubes.
Play AC/DC On Electrostats... REALLY LOUD... And See What Happens.
Up one floor
from Silverline was the EarsNova/innersound
room. In case you've been living under a rock for the last few
years, innersound are the "upstart" young electrostatic speaker
manufacturers who are challenging Martin-Logan for the title of World's
Best Panel loudspeaker. EarsNova is their exclusive New York City
dealer -- they came along to help with the demos.
Innersound Kachina loudspeaker, DPR-500
and Tehya center channel speaker.
In one room,
innersound was displaying their Kachina ($12,000/pr.) loudspeakers and
Tehya ($6,000/each) center channel speaker, driven by innersound amps,
of course. And in their other room were the Kaya Reference
loudspeakers ($20,000/pr.) bi-amplified, no less, by two of innersound's 500
WPC DPR-500 Reference Amplifiers ($13,000/each). All of
innersound's current loudspeaker models feature their patented
"Ultrastat" panel, mated with a transmission line woofer to handle the
low-end. Innersound has also announced plans to release a full
range electrostatic panel as well as more compact ribbon-based loudspeakers in the future.
Enjoy The Music's own Rick Becker chats with
innersound's marketing director,
Wes Bender who gives Enjoy The Music an enthusiastic "thumbs-up."
components in the "Kaya" room included a Linn Unidisk 1.1 ($10,995)
universal disc player handling the silver discs and Redpoint Audio
"Testarossa" turntable ($7,500 in Ferrari red, of course) handling the
black ones. Volume control and switching was performed by the
elegant RCP-1 Reference Preamplifier, which has simply the coolest
volume control ever (click here for video to see what I mean). Rives Audio contributed their PARC
Adaptive Room Compensation - $3200) to help with the ever problematic
Click to view the RCP-1's gain control in
As I said last year, in addition to their transparency
and delicacy on more refined source material, the innersound
electrostats kick out the jams on hard-core rock and roll. This
year, I tried some more Pink Floyd, and yes, even some AC/DC, but I
just could not get these puppies to lose their edge, even when driven
to "painfully loud" levels. The innersound electrostats simply
play louder and cleaner than they have any right to. Of course,
it didn't hurt that they were being driven by 1000 Watts per side (500
WPC, bi-amplified) and that they are rated at 98 dB sensitivity.
While playing the rock tracks, the room lights were dimming in time
with the bass drum. Hey, all this and a free light show! To
say they impressed me would be a gross understatement.
And Now For Something Completely Different...
Back down on the sixth floor, Silicon
Optix offered an unusual product for videophiles -- Image
AnyPlace scalers ($2495 for basic model or $3995 with
"image warping" software). These are designed to help
integrate front projection televisions into environments that may not
be "projector-friendly." In addition to robust video scaling
features, the Image AnyPlace devices include geometry correction
technology to adjust for odd projector
placement or non-standard screen shapes. These go way beyond
standard lens-shift and digital keystone correction allowing you to
tuck your projector completely out of the way, or project onto a curved
or irregular surface and still get a perfectly shaped
two demos running: in one a front projector sat nearly on the floor, at
least 30 degrees off axis from a standard rectangular screen in the
middle of the opposing wall; in the other, the projector was about 45
degrees off the perpendicular, projecting onto a concave screen.
Both of the resulting projected images displayed perfect ruler-flat
screen geometry. Most of their customers will probably not
need correction this radical, but if you need to place your screen in a
less-than-ideal location, it's nice to know that this device will allow
you to do so without having to sacrifice picture quality.
Silicon Optix cappuccino-powered Image AnyPlace
with Alice In Chains
Every year, one
room catches my ear because there's something out of the ordinary
coming from within -- non-audiophile-approved demo material,
REAL MUSIC. This year, it was Naim's
theater room (suite 606). Naim showcased their new DVD/CD player,
the dvd5 ($4700). This player includes full support for DVD, DVD-Audio,
and red book CD, but (interestingly enough) not SACD. The Naim
rep with whom I spoke considers SACD a flawed format and doesn't see
Sony really pushing it in Europe, which is where a large
percentage of Naim's customer base resides.
Naim wasn't afraid to forego the traditional
fare when introducing their new DVD/CD player.
When I passed
by, they had the "Alice in Chains:
Unplugged" DVD fired up on the DVD5
with video duty performed by a 42 inch Fujitsu plasma. This $25,000
system (excluding plasma) presented a seamless blend between the channels,
superb vocal resolution and excellent dynamics. I kicked back for
around 15 minutes and enjoyed the music, which is rare at these
shows. Thanks, Naim for allowing me to remember what all this is
supposed to be about in the first place.
On my way out,
I made sure to stop by the Krell/Faroudja room for their home theater
demo. These guys put on a great home theater demo year after
year, and this
year was no exception. Instead of stacking the deck with HD
source material that is still hard to come by, Faroudja opted instead
to use standard DVDs to show what
real-world material looks like at three different front projection
On display were three of their projectors - one single chip DLP
"entry-level" model, the FDP-DLPHD20 ($22,000), plus two D-ILA models -
the FDP-DILA2 ($32,000) and FPD-DILA3 ($50,000). Audio duties were
handled by Krell electronics and loudspeakers, a mere $125,000 in audio
gear, which was a nice complement to the Faroudja video technology.
Faroudja showed three of their front
projectors, all featuring
Faroudja's proprietary video processing technology.
Because of the
different capabilities of the three projectors (light output, contrast
ratio, etc.), they used 3 different Stewart screens, optimally sized
for each projector. Graduating from the smaller screen (77 inch)
with DLP projection into the larger screen size (120 inch) with the top
end D-ILA projector, I was sucked into the films, with each progressive
screen size increase making the theater experience more compelling than
the one before it. This convinced me of one thing... it's
definitely time to stop messing around with my "little" 38 inch Loewe
direct view monitor and set up the basement as a true home theater with
a nice front projector and screen to match it. Kudos to Faroudja,
Krell and Stewart for showing DVD home theater as good as it gets.
And In The "Too Cool Not To Mention"
Mobile Fidelity Sound Lab has
begun issuing multi-channel hybrid CD/SACD discs, two of which were
available at the show - a Ravel
collection (including "Bolero")
performed by the Minnesota Orchestra, and Prokofiev's Ivan the Terrible
performed by the St. Louis Symphony. Plus MoFi is also now
offering Ultradisc 24K gold blank CD-Rs for home recording and
archiving use! Featuring a 24K gold reflective layer that is
designed to retain its reflective properties longer than standard CD-Rs
and the way cool Ultradisc jewel box and packaging, Ultradisc CD-Rs
retail for $3 each when purchased individually (appreciably less when
purchased in multi-packs, or in spindles without the packaging).
Now amateur musicians, hobbyists and tape-traders can all own their own
"Original Master Recordings" and studios and recording engineers can
entrust their priceless mixes to a more robust archival medium.
Mobile Fidelity displayed their Ultradisc CD-R
plus two new hybrid CD/SACD releases.
had some noteworthy news, with the introduction of the Delphi Roady2
XM satellite receiver. Approximately the size of a deck of cards,
and with a tiny satellite antenna (roughly 4 inches square), the Roady
2 gives new meaning to satellite radio portability. The Roady2
comes with an integrated FM transmitter and car docking station for
instant portability. A home docking station is also available as an
option. All this and a mini stock-ticker too!
Delphi/XM Roady2, because sometimes smaller is
And now, ladies
and gentlemen, it's time for my own awards for "Best In Show." It
is important to note that kudos goes out to all exhibitors who make
this show a success. I wouldn't want to try to optimize a system
under these conditions, but when a vendor manages to beat the odds and
set up a nice looking or excellent sounding system, I feel recognition
is in order. All of the systems mentioned in my report did a good
job of displaying their wares (otherwise I wouldn't have mentioned
them), but a few stood out from the crowd. Here are my picks for
Boylan's Best in Show: