By Ron Nagle -- Page 1
here to e-mail reporter.
Let me share a few quick observations, considerations and consternations....
This year for the first time Stereophile held it's show at the Grand Hyatt Hotel in midtown Manhattan that's most certainly New York City audiopals. This year most of the rooms were just a redux of products from other hi-end shows. Let's concentrate on those few that in some way stand out above the heard. Hotels are notoriously bad places to demo hi-end audio systems and in my estimation the Grand Hyatt certainly upheld that expectation. The smaller the room the
worse it gets, so the rule is shallow pockets lead to smaller rooms and big headaches. The Silverline Audio room
of Alan Yun was a particularly nasty cramped space that resembled the shape of the letter
'T'. Alan is a talented speaker designer even so it is truly amazing how he managed clean sound and dynamic base out of his small two-way Prelude tower speakers. These are a three-driver D'Appolito arrangement with a 1" dome tweeter and twin 3.5" Mid-Woofers that reach down to 35Hz. I think the asking price of the Prelude
of $1,200 is more than reasonable.
Not new but worth mentioning are the German manufactures, Ascendo and Behold.
This setup gets my vote for one of the three best sounds at the show. I will send a whole bunch of nice adjectives their way; they are very open and coherent full of harmonically believable nuance. More specifically I refer to the Ascendo M-S MK2 speakers with a unique horn loaded monopole ribbon tweeter contained in a separate black box suspended above a bigger black box housing a SEAS 8" mid/woof and a 11" Eton Hexacone subwoofer. The base price of the speakers is $30,000 add in the cost of the chrome stands and the black lacquer finish and that comes out to $41,454. Powering this pair were two big Behold BPA768 amplifiers made in Germany by Ballman GmBH each producing
600 watts into 4 Ohms. These amplifiers have a unique stereo mono digital analogue hybrid design they require the digital Behold preamplifier as the source The Behold monos were absolutely impossible to overlook sitting on a shelf in a dim half lit room. The front panel has a circular cutout illuminated from behind by glowing blue Light Emitting Diodes. The German manufacturer offers two versions of this eye candy display, the first is called "Sparking Blue Fire" and the pair of amps at the show was sporting "The Decent Harmonic Blue
Very good sound coming from Colorful looking Scaena Iso linear tower speakers. They look as if somebody tied red Christmas tree balls on a 6-foot high pole. Well actually they are 12 ovoid-shaped midrange enclosures arranged next to 9 ribbon tweeters stacked vertically. Behind them near the corners of the room were two impressive looking black 18" subwoofers. The system with two subs and the subwoofer amplifier will set you back $44,000. One more big bold Behold BPA768 power amplifier was driving the towers. These speakers have as you might expect all the virtues of a line source array. They are capable of superb image placement inhabiting an articulate wide-open sound stage. The music source for this system might just be the next evolutionary step in digital audio. It is a radical new paradigm breaking approach from the mind of Mark Porzilli. Mark calls it the Memory Player a system that reads Red Book discs many times to eliminate errors and can store up to 300 discs in flash memory. Access to the tunes is from a play list displayed on a laptop screen. Friends who listened to the prototype tell me that the music quality retrieved out of this chip Memory Player surpasses any other consumer device capable of playing digital music as of right now.
Heads up guys, totally unexpected and exciting performance from Proclaim Audioworks. The DMT-100 speaker system début gets my vote for best sound at Home Entertainment 2007. On three separate occasions I looked in this room and each time the room was packed with people stepping over bodies was the only way inside. To visualize these speakers you need to form a mental picture of the light fixtures that are used by architects over their drawing tables. Now picture those same jointed extension arms, but instead of holding light fixtures the ends support round balls, it looks crazy but it sounds amazing. There are two independent time aligning adjustable extension arms growing out of an
'X' shaped base. This is a three balls system each speakers spherical enclosure is a proprietary mixture of fiberglass and sand and some other stuff they don't mention. The base bass ball holds an 11" Hexicone Woofer, the middle articulated arm supports a 5" Hexicone midrange driver and last but not least a similar arm holds a sphere with a
0.75" coated textile dome tweeter. The DMT-100 crossover controlling all this is a super quality crazy adjustable big black rack mount wide box. The front panel has four L Pad level controls two each for left and right tweeter and midrange drivers. In addition to these the internal circuit utilizes
four dual banana patch plugs that bypass the L Pads for fine-tuning.
In brief it works like this, pull out the two jumpers for mid range and tweeter and position the bass drivers in the room. Next plug in midrange jumpers and position the midrange spheres lastly repeat the procedure with the tweeters positions. As if that was not enough you can insert resistors of any value across the jumpers to micro adjust individual levels. This demo was setup so expertly that the speakers adjustments compensated for the shitty acoustics of the room. Ergo only minimal sound absorbing room-taming treatment was needed. The basic speaker package with black finish, crossover and cable wiring is $25,999. Just between you and me this system scares the hell out of me. I know with great certainty that the tweak perfectionist in me would never stop adjusting this system until the guys in the white coats came to get me.
This very last little news item has got me all up side myself. Understand like most
'philes there is at least one piece of audio gear I wish I never sold. My deep regret is selling my Spendor LS3/5a speakers. Well the good news is that GINI Systems is selling walnut veneer LS3/5a speakers in a kit for $490
and a finished pair goes for $560. Show conditions preclude an authoritative assessment of sound quality but what I was able to detect sounded just fine. They are as of now in short supply. Eventually I would like to build me a pair of these little beauties and possibly do an article on the construction, only time will tell. I will close by
phrasing high-end audio vernacular:
"Say lets do lunch sometime I'll have my people call your