You know what would be great? Winning the Lottery. That would be great. I mean, honestly, I would make a fantastic rich person. I would! Okay, I probably wouldn't. Most likely, I'd be that guy that won the jackpot and blew it all on the 250' yacht he keeps on blocks next to his doublewide. Of course, instead of a yacht, I'd blow it all on audio gear, but that's only to be expected.
Doug had two rooms here, both showing Tidal speakers. In the more expensive of the two, Doug was showing off his personal pair of Contriva Diacera SE speakers in a magnificent custom veneer. These $64,190/pair speakers were actually the first and second off the line – as you can see from the engraved silver plaques mounted just over their rear-facing ports. Nice touch. The finish is something of a one-off, a super-dramatic custom-stained version of the standard-finish African pyramid mahogany. As Doug tells it, this finish took about six months of finishing and fussing over before Tidal designer Jörn Janczak was happy with it – and once complete, said he'd never do again. Doug says he's never going to sell these, and quite frankly, he'd be nuts to do so. Interestingly, these speakers also predate the move Tidal made to all-black Accuton drivers. Anyway, these speakers were not only shockingly beautiful; they put out the most glamorous sound at the show.
These speakers are currently retailing for $12,600 and can
be paired with the matching subwoofer for an additional $2400. A sub is
probably good idea with the Vittoria, given that they will roll off at around
50 Hz because, well, because they're horns. Bass out of a horn isn't hard,
but it does need a large cabinet – far larger than a room-friendly enclosure
like the Vittoria. My advice? Get the sub. The tasteful, furniture-grade enclosures are all hand-made
in Maine, constructed of Baltic Birch, and require approximately 240 hours of
labor to build. Hmmm, a $15,000 for furniture-grade heirloom quality horn
speakers? Sign me up.
Around the corner from the Volti Audio room was the Volti
Audio room. Or, rather, their second room. Shown here with Mojo Audio were the
new $8,000 Volti Veretta speakers. These show with a Feastrex NF5 driver in a
hand-made "boat-tail" cabinet design – when viewed from above, the
widest point in the cabinet happens about mid-way back from the front baffle.
The Veretta is spec'd at 35 Hz to 25 kHz, carries a 94dB/W/m sensitivity,
and the sound is quite revealing. I walked into the room, shared by Mojo Audio
and Déjà vu Audio, to a familiar recording of Keb Mo'. I love this guy's
sound, but here, it sounded flat and boring. I was surprised and not looking
forward to hanging out, but Benjamin Zwickel of Mojo Audio changed over to
Harry Belafonte's Belafonte Sings the
Blues, and it was like someone poured another cup of coffee into
me. The sound, which had been flat and not involving, suddenly went 3-D. A track
Peter Breuninger of AVShowrooms
left behind, a sad, quiet female vocalist covering "All the Lonely
People", gave me goose bumps. Chris Jones' "Roadhouses and
Automobiles", off the album of the same name, is a track I like to use for
resolution – my so-called "Cricket Test",
had the little buggers chirping all over the sound stage. Convincing sound --
with great source material – and easily resolving enough to let you know
when your source material just isn't "there".
Purity Audio Design
Audio Power Labs
Swap Meet Audio
I'll spare you the inept attempt at grade-school humor.
But let me say that the Triode Wire Labs
"Seven Plus" is simply massive. Like the name suggests, ahem, the wire is
7 gauge (which is really big), but the whole is remarkably
flexible. I say this because most low-gauge wire that I'm
familiar with is about as easy to use as a two-by-four. Most shocking of all,
ahem (I can't seem to help myself here, but at least I've moved electrical
humor, that's worth something, right?), is the price: $399 for 5' lengths.
Compare that, and weep, ye heathen. And for that, you get cryo treatment, top
shelf connectors, a special metal-alloy blend, and, yes, it's all made by
Triode Pete himself, in his secret underground lair. Wicked. And yes, I will
have some. Oh yes, yes I will.
Another odd bit I found in here was the secretive qølSignal
Completion Stage from BSG.
I still have no idea how this thing works, but from what I understand, the
$3995 unit corrects phase errors – among other things – with the result
of, predictably, improved audio quality for the system it gets embedded in.
It's not a replacement for any particular component, but instead, sits
inline and works its magic on the signal as it passes through. There's a
remote, which allows you to turn the unit on and off as well as switch the qøl
circuit in and out of the signal, so you can "test" what it sounds like on
the fly. Look, I have no idea if this thing works, or what differences I would
hear if I were to A/B the unit with a separate, parallel, BSG-free chain, but
what I did hear with the unit
powered on and inline was, well, a significant improvement to the audio
quality. Color me curious.