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New York Audio Show Report 2014
New York Audio Show Report 2014
Bringin' it to Brooklyn 
Show Coverage By Rick Becker

Part 4

Legacy Audio Focus-SE speakers ($10,615) sounded very inviting driven by mostly McIntosh gear. It has taken me a decade at least to come around to fully appreciate the full, rich sound the Mac gear delivers and this seemed to be a very synergistic combination of electronics and speaker. On display were their MA6600 integrated amp ($4995) and MA6300 integrated amp ($3395) powered up to show off the blue meters, but on silent display. Above them was the MCD500 SACD/CD player ($5395) feeding the C2300 tube preamp which was driving an Audio Classics 9b tube amplifier ($9999) that puts out 80 wpc using KT88, looking a lot like a piece of Mac gear. Audio Classics deals primarily in high quality used gear marketed on the net, but also has a brick and mortar store in Vestal, NY near the McIntosh factory. The analog source was a VPI Classic 3 turntable ($6000) equipped with a Denon DL-103R, which speaks very highly of that affordable cartridge. McIntosh makes their own speakers, which I’ve been able to hear in several shows in recent years that are also very good. They also make their own turntable with a thick acrylic platter that glows green, of course. But there was little to fault in the rig put together here. Others might have heard a pair of smaller Legacy speakers that were off to the side.

 

Nola and VAC are two of my most highly regarded companies, though generally very pricy. A VAC Sigma 160i integrated amplifier was driving a modest (in size, if not in price) Nola speaker. Nola typically uses a combination of bass drivers in a box with open baffle midrange and tweeters above that are awkwardly disguised to look like they are in a box. The world class finish on the woodwork and bases goes a long way toward carrying off the effect. Heard here was the Metro Grand Reference Gold model ($33,000), seemingly designed for penthouses in a reasonably sized cabinet so as not to obscure your view of the skyline. The analog front end was comprised of a VPI Scout 2 equipped with an Ortofon Quintet Black cartridge and the phono signal was amplified with a Merrill Audio JENS Phono Pre. At times, it seemed like there were more VPIs at the show than VIPs. On the digital side was a Bricasti M1 DAC. Supporting roles were played by Star Sound platforms and racks, Ansuz Power Distribution, and cabling was MG Audio Planus ribbon cables. The room was put together by Xtreme Fidelity, a northern New Jersey dealer. Although the show was closing soon at the time of my visit, the seats were all taken in this room. Excellent sound here.

 

On a table in the above room I noted this table illustrating the relationship of dB gain to Voltage. It kind of reminds me of the gear chart I have on the handlebar stem of my racing bicycle. Keep this chart in mind when I cover the last room I visited at the show.

 

Alta Audio, a new name to me, had their doors open and their room full even past the closing hour of the show on Saturday. They showcased two of their three speaker models. The small FMR-2 stand mounted monitors with a ribbon tweeter and woofer have been acclaimed in reviews, but what were playing was their large Statement Tower speakers, each being driven by what looked like a VAC 450S stereo amp in bi-amp mode with 225 wpc. The Statement has a sensitivity of 93dB/W/m, but the impedance rating of 2 Ohms dictates serious amplification. As you can see in the photos, the tops and bottoms, as well as the left and right speaker are mirror images. What is not noticeable is that the two 6” upper midrange drivers have an open back, kind of like the Alon, though not as noticeable. Frequency response with the massive woofers and ribbon tweeters stretches from 14 Hz to 47 kHz, though the rock music playing had no deep bass content to demonstrate the lower limit. In fact, the rig was really way too big for the room. The Statement is 86” tall if you were wondering if this $200,000 speaker might fit in your listening room. But there is no need to fret about set-up, as it is included in the price, along with delivery in the Continental US. It also includes an electronic crossover from DEQX and footers from Stillpoints. Minimum power for bi- or tri-amplification is 100 wpc. Note the wood-framed “boxes” hanging on the wall behind the Statement, and beside it. These look like the Stillpoints Aperture diffuser/absorber units I spoke of earlier—one with art work, the other plain white. Also of intrigue to me was a poster for Mojo Audio and Atomic Audio Labs who apparently hot-rod computers and streaming devices. From personal experience, a good set of footers under your laptop even will enhance your computer sourced audio. I didn’t get a good listen here as I was trying to survey the final few rooms on the third floor, but from the look of the crowd inside, people were enjoying the music.

 

Around the corner in the Brighton Beach room I chanced upon Vincent Belanger once again, playing his cello live to a recording of him playing. Once again, his live music was seamless with the recorded music coming from Tineo Mk-II wood horn loaded speakers from USA Tube Audio Labs driven by Ayon‘s top of the line Titan tube monoblocks putting out 75 watts. The preamp was either the new Polaris III or Spheris III model, each with a separate power regenerator and an Ayon CD player was stacked atop it. The Ayon gear from Austria is very highly regarded and it acquitted itself here very well. The elegant black and chrome theme carries through their entire line. I also noted the matched veneer on the complex architecture of the USA Tube Audio Labs speakers—very fine workmanship all the way around each speaker.

 

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