Home  Hi-Fi Audio Reviews  |  Audiophile Shows  |  Partner Mags  Music News       

  High-End High-Performance Audiophile Review Magazine & Hi-Fi Audio Equipment Reviews

  High-Performance Audio Reviews
  Music News, Show Reports, And More!

  Celebrating 29 Years Of Service To Music Lovers



Las Vegas 2002

Consumer Electronic Show 2002 (CES)

THE Expo



(Living It Up at the...)

Article by Clark Johnsen
Click here to e-mail reviewer

Page 2

Informative conversation ensues in a humorous vein —-
Don Krasen of Krystal Clear has no pretensions and a load
of insider knowledge -- but I am surprised when he says to
me, “You know, your magazine Positive Feedback [as my badge
states] is most thought-provoking. I’d like to be selling
it.” Yessir! Right away sir!

But why waste time on this relatively chintzy front-room
system? Soon we are ushered into the rear sanctum sanctorum
where presides a behemoth $60,000 Gamut on the floor, its
twenty large blues eyes glowing softly, oh so softly. Ole,
a Mozart man (among other classics), puts on what he claims
is Denmark’s greatest hit CD of the moment, Satriduo’s Episode
II. The duo are classically-trained musicians, he tells us
OK, but I recognize this immediately as house music. Deep
house, actually. And good deep house. I love good deep house.
(Never thought I’d write such an illiterate-looking
sentence...) And ol' Ole begins boogieing. Gotta love those
guys whose names end in sen.

But wait! What’s wrong? This amazing system seems oddly
inarticulate on the multilevel, multirhythmic but beaty music.
Plus there’s an overlay of edginess. And I know how to fix
it! Just fix the CD! In the mood to do a favor for Ole,
and at the same time haul out my tweak show, I volunteer to
apply the Audio Desk System carver from Ultrasystems, then
polish it with Optrix and destaticize it with Nordost ECO.
I don’t go into the lurid details with Ole, only promising
that I shall return soon. Just before I depart, Ole can be
overheard saying to someone, endearingly, “So long as you
see analog here at the Show, there’s still a vestige of hope.”

And sure enough, upon my return the carved and treated
CD puts smiles on every face, even after a thirty—minute
hiatus. The sound is now more detailed and smoother, deeper
and higher, louder and softer... in short, more analog. Funny
thing about CD, we hardly knew ye, and now it’s to be MP3.

Never thought we’d be mourning the loss of the original
digital disc eh?



Onwards. At the Show two years ago Roger Sanders’
InnerSound speakers had impressed me immensely, so I seat
myself prepared for Heaven again but what do I find? Music
played out of proper acoustic polarity. In short, everything
sounds flat and muffled; instruments instead of going toot,
are going poop. Very, uh, uninvolving, as they say.

It has been my belief for twenty years that incorrect
playback polarity constitutes the single greatest hidden factor
in poor music reproduction. Musical instruments, most of
them anyway, produce compressive wavefronts (“toot”); when
these are reproduced incorrectly as rarefaction wavefronts,
enabled by a simple (and not infrequent) twist of fate in
electronics, they sound like shit (“poop”). Over a hundred
different engineers and writers ranging among the Journal
of the Audio Engineering Society
, Recording Engineer/Producer,
Audio, Audio Amateur, Stereophile and even TAS have remarked
this phenomenon, yet it has not become a normal correction
in hi-fl. Why? Mostly I blame phase-incoherent loudspeakers
that disallow listener perception of this vital acoustic
phenomenon. And most loudspeakers today are, for whatever
reason, phase incoherencers.

Does a system seem to lack punch? Look to incorrect
polarity or to phase-incoherent crossovers. Wrong polarity
pulls the punch.

Tapes, records and discs are made in both of the two
polarities willy-nilly. Because no standard exists, the law
of averages demands that the two arrive split fifty-fifty,
and so they do. Overall, within a label, and often on each
disc as well. Which makes things difficult, both to recognize
and to correct. With polarities commingled, one simply adjusts
to expecting half the sound to sound muffled.

The unique term Absolute Polarity, by the way, refers
not to how polarity is captured on some disc, rather to whether
its ultimate reproduction in acoustic space conforms to real
musical instruments.

For two decades I have termed incorrect playback polarity
“the muffling distortion”. After many years of attending audio
shows where I enter the room and hear the wrong condition
immediately, I no longer turn on my heel. Instead I have
learned to wait for the next cut -- which still stands a
fifty-fifty chance of being out! Unless, however, the exhibitor
is wise to the ways, in which case he (or she) knows how to
entice and keep an audience. But they are precious few.

At one of the last CESs in Chicago I performed an
experiment. Scoring each room for correct polarity of the
music as I entered, I also counted the number of people present
and seated. Across a wide range of (high-end) exhibits over
all four days, suitably minimizing statistical variances,
the inescapable result was this: Rooms with music playing
in correct polarity (“punch”) had 2.3 times as many sitters
present as their opposites.


Enough of that, back to the Show

Back now to InnerSound, where the sound is muffled.
I wonder to Roger whether he has a polarity switch, and so
he does, and flips it, and to my ear the improvement is quite
apparent. I ask why he doesn’t always strive for Absolute
Polarity and get the old “can’t be bothered” and “recordings
are all mixed up anyway” excuses. Pity. I’m surprised at
his dismissive response too, because I wear the red badge
of courage -- Press! Nevertheless Roger Sanders seems
uninterested in my enthusiasms and particularities. Odd,
for a presenter. One must wonder whether it was something
he ate...

Next door, however, but in an attached room —— evidently
Roger has donated the space, to which I can only say bless
him! -- I enter a veritable time-warp. Beveridge loudspeakers!
Twenty-five years ago Harold Beveridge designed some highly
unusual electrostatic panels. And not just the panels
themselves, but also their embodiment in side-facing cabinets
firing towards each other. These were all the rage among
higher echelons of the Boston Audio Society at the time,
especially the guys on the radio show conducted by the late
Peter Mitchell. The local Beveridge dealer was Natural Sound,
who I recall told me they had sold one whole pair. The price
was top dollar and the speakers were... very tall.

And here I am with Rick Beveridge, who has resurrected
his late father’s manqué. “We have improved construction
and computer-assisted lens design. Every improvement I’ve
made since I got back into this in 1995 is incredibly small,
but gradually they do add up. My father’s original designs,
laboratory notes and blueprints were all lost in a fire.
So I depend on extant examples and on my childhood memories
of helping him at every step of the way. I loved my father.
He died, and my older brother as well, so it’s left to me
to carry on the Beveridge family tradition.

“I feel it’ll be all right, because I once worked with
a very gifted engineer.

Proceeding to the record and disc salesfloor in the
Parthenon Room, I encounter Ben Piazza of Shakti fame (or
is that infame?) at the Cisco booth, where Robert Pinkus,
classical music cognoscento and LP maven extraordinaire,
presides. Ben prevails upon him to comp me with a disc of
Prokofiev, struck from tapes made for Urania in 1959. By
general repute this thing is a stunner. While I haven’t heard
it, the fact that no CD yet exists -- I speak of such things
unwillingly -- would seem to be a crime that prevents most
people from enjoying the recording. Write your congressman.

After that rewarding transaction Ben leads me up to his
room. Yes! Lest one has not caught on, CES is all about
male-on-male seduction. And we of the press, star. Babes
for hire in Toyland! Anyway, Ben is showing a novel room
treatment called the Hallograph. Unlike his more discreet
Shakti Stones, which have become the favorite whipping boy
of stiffs in audio academic society, here is something out
in the open. Hallographs, probably TM although I don’t see
a sign, are three wavy upright pieces of exotic wood that
perch in the front corners of a room on tall thin poles.
Scarcely a nuisance, visually. Kind of attractive, actually.

But what’s up with them?

I mean, they also sound good! I mean, no sound comes
from them, and yet... What I mean is... These Hallographs
assist the hi-fl by helping to recreate a real sense of sonic
space. I do not say that lightly. Removing them proves the
point. In two systems, one major, one minor, both in mediocre
rooms, Hallographs make the difference between great sound
and good. And we’re talking sound by E.A.R., that’s Tim de
Paravinci, which would otherwise be quite acceptable, tonally,
before adding the Hallographs. I predict that these light
wooden sculptures, which may even elicit ahs of wonder from
artists and ladies, shall become in one form or another a
standard feature of good rooms.

In the two locations one can hear them, Hallographs impart
a sense of presence to the music unlike any other room trick
I have ever heard. Astonishing. Congratulations, Ben.
Although who knows how they may work in better environments?
At any rate, for under $1000, they seem well worth trying.
OK, want a better quote? Here you go.

“Hallographs provide a fundamental, as-yet inimitable
solution to room problems. They extract, rather than
synthesize. Hallographs help unravel the tangled web that
music reproduction in real rooms weaves.

How’s that?

Oh, and this just in. Later I revisit to find famous
mastering engineer Stan Ricker, along with Dave Glackin,
sitting in the catbird seats. Moments into the “A” play (which
I happen to know is an old Merc, albeit on CD) Stan remarks,
“That must be a Bob Fine recording.” Of course he is correct.
Moments into the “B”, with Hallographs up, Stan bursts out:
“Still a Bob Fine.., but, much finer!”


Click here for page 3


Click here to see last year's show coverage.













































Quick Links

Premium Audio Review Magazine
High-End Audiophile Equipment Reviews


Equipment Review Archives
Turntables, Cartridges, Etc
Digital Source
Do It Yourself (DIY)
Cables, Wires, Etc
Loudspeakers/ Monitors
Headphones, IEMs, Tweaks, Etc
Superior Audio Gear Reviews



Show Reports
HIGH END Munich 2024
AXPONA 2024 Show Report
Montreal Audiofest 2024 Report

Southwest Audio Fest 2024
Florida Intl. Audio Expo 2024
Capital Audiofest 2023 Report
Toronto Audiofest 2023 Report
UK Audio Show 2023 Report
Pacific Audio Fest 2023 Report
T.H.E. Show 2023 Report
Australian Hi-Fi Show 2023 Report
...More Show Reports


Our Featured Videos


Industry & Music News

High-Performance Audio & Music News


Partner Print Magazines
Australian Hi-Fi Magazine
hi-fi+ Magazine
Sound Practices
VALVE Magazine


For The Press & Industry
About Us
Press Releases
Official Site Graphics





Home   |   Hi-Fi Audio Reviews   |   News   |   Press Releases   |   About Us   |   Contact Us


All contents copyright©  1995 - 2024  Enjoy the Music.com®
May not be copied or reproduced without permission.  All rights reserved.