New York Audio Show
Bringin' it to Brooklyn
Show Coverage By Rick Becker
New York City is a road trip from Rochester. I pulled into my hideout in northern New Jersey after midnight and awoke to find fog in the valley early Saturday morning. BMWs and an occasional Jaguar passed me on I-80 as I kept to the speed limit in stealth mode, duct tape flapping on the rocker panels of the Hotel Tracker. Credence Clearwater Revival's long version of
"Heard It Through the Grapevine" and "Run Through the Jungle" kept my anxiety under control as I melded with heavy traffic and slipped into Manhattan through the Lincoln Tunnel. Brooklyn lowered my anxiety level a couple of notches after my trans-Manhattan adventure. I'm not a big city boy.
The first person I encountered at the show was
Justin Bird, the show organizer, who asked me to return later when the doors officially opened, which I welcomed as an opportunity for a large paper cup of Dark Roast coffee from the nearby Panera's. Sarah Trembley from the Montreal show was a welcome smile and I soon had a Press pass around my neck, along with my camera and camcorder. The Marriott was a pleasant venue and the floor plan was well executed with some larger rooms on the main floor, one up from ground level, and all of the smaller rooms on the third floor. It was immediately clear that this was not anywhere near as large a show as New York shows back in the 2000's, but everyone knows the landscape has changed. New York needs a show and it has been abundantly clear that New Yorkers fear to travel beyond the boroughs to say Montreal or Toronto.
What I was about to encounter was quality presentations and a lot of opportunity to talk with vendors, in spite of the very healthy attendance on Saturday. As it turned out, a person could have worked quickly, not spending much time in rooms of little interest, and seen the whole show in a day. On the other hand, there were lots of seminars (which I did not attend, except maybe one) that could have been valuable experiences. If you were considering a major purchase or two, a
Two-Day Pass would have been the wiser choice.
Miraculously, there are trees in Brooklyn and in late September it was still summer.
This was my third exposure to Muraudio speakers (this time being the Domain Omni PX1 version for use with external
amplifiers), and it was evident that they were gaining experience in presentation as the music here was much more impressive than earlier in the year at Montreal. It was also much more refined, though not as dynamic as their first presentation at Toronto in a much smaller room, almost a year ago. This may simply have been the difference in choice of music that was playing. With 82dB/W/m sensitivity they are power hungry speakers and in a large room without sufficient power they can lack dynamics. Basically it is a two-way design with an omni-directional ESL driver on top of tri-axially opposed woofers in the lower section. For insight to the vast technology incorporated within, check out their website. They also seemed smaller than I recalled, but they assured me these were the same speakers. They looked like they could fit comfortably into medium-to-large size rooms. The front end was a slim laptop with an Intel I5 chip and Windows 7, carefully mounted on vibration absorbing footers. An
EMM Labs SE TSDX CD/SACD transport with mdat up-converting DSP technology was underneath, as well as their DAC2 (also with mdat), and PRE2 preamp which fed a pair of
Bryston 7B monoblocks with 600 watts each. Nordost cabling made the connections. The classical music selection playing was finely detailed and completely detached from the speakers without any hint of irritation. I left the room thinking this had to be one of the finest rooms at the show, and in retrospect, it was. At $58,000 for the standard model and $67,000 for the powered version, each with a selection of finishes, this is a serious loudspeaker
from this manufacturer. Look for them again at
CES, Montreal, and Munich in 2015. This seems to be a company with staying power and a deep commitment to their product.
Out in the lobby, along with a piano for live performances was the lovely
Anne Bisson signing CDs. Always a pleasure to see her, but unfortunately, it was nowhere near the top of the hour to take in a song.
Also in the lobby was Acoustic Sounds selling LPs and CDs at one of the few booths at the show. That would be Chad Kassem in the black shirt in front of the booth, a man who had done much for the music world, particularly with the resurgence of LPs and the recording of vintage bluesmen...or should that be bluespeople? Chad had garnered prime real estate opposite the registration desk. There were a few other small booths in a nearby room featuring headphone playback opportunities, but nothing like the bazaar environments seen at Montreal and Toronto. A missed opportunity, particularly for Internet sellers?
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