Audio Connection from Verona/NJ showed with ClearAudio, Pathos and Vandersteen. Playing headless professor to match the leather elbow patches on my sports coat, I forgot to get the lowdown on this room. Rumor has it that Pathos introduced new amplifiers and is interested in a review. If these gents from Italy still feel like working with us now that I have so unceremoniously -- but unintentionally -- overlooked
them, please contact me and we'll make up for this grave faux pas.

It seems as though time alignment in loudspeakers is getting a new boost. This despite Jeff Joseph handing me over to the inventor of his Infinite Slope networks to prove to me the errors of my ways. Needless to say, consider me entirely unconvinced that proper phase and time performance is inaudible. When Modafferi began his demonstration by comparing pink noise filtered first through his 120dB network, then a 6dB filter by calling the "out-of-band" energy of the shallow filter distortion, I promptly collapsed into the arms of EveAnna Manley who grinningly obliged. Boy does she have the secret reviewer weapon for cable comparisons now. More anon. Anyways, Aural Acoustics' Model B uses a stepped baffle for its 3-way to, presumably, put into action its "patent-pending PureSound Phased Array AccuRange" technology. With claimed 33Hz to 25,000Hz bandwidth, 8-ohm nominal impedance, 35 watts minimum recommended power, 120 lbs of heft and cabinet dimensions of 41.75" x 8.75" x 14" H X W x D, the Model B uses a 1" Sonotex dome tweeter with hexadym magnet, a 4" hand-woven Carbon/Kevlar mid and a 7" multi-fiber paper woofer, with the networks hard-wired to avoid circuit boards.

Though some dress to invite our lascivious procreative impulses in utter defiance of cold reason, civilized men have been taught to avoid staring down a lady's cleavage. Gilbert Yeung's hussy in the hallway seemed immune to any such protests so I checked out her plumbing and curves only to discover the amplifiers wired into the size 10 pumps, the preamp into her purse and a pair of Gallo Acoustics Nucleus Micros into her strapless bra. Baby. Inside, Blue Circle's maverick showed the $2,495 110wpc NSCS balanced integrated which Paul Candy pawed in a very unbecoming fashion (review pending). The BC606 Music Bar AC power distributor goes for $299 with a hospital-grade power cord, for $399 with the BC 61 cord and for $499 with the BC62.

Focus Audio's new FS-78SE ($3450/pr) uses a Scanspeak D2905 tweeter and suggests another no-holds-barred but affordable 2-way tower in immaculately lacquered wood veneers. These speakers positively sang on Blue Circle's $5,295 BC202hybrid stereo amplifier with 125 watts of power.

Butler Audio showed with Escalante Audio from Provo/Utah in surround sound. This was my first time to meet B.K. Butler in the flesh, holding court with his finalized Monad 100-watt Class A monoblocks with 2 farads of battery-like capacitance. One lone 300B is direct-coupled to the transistor outputs in a patented "diode current-mirror" scheme. The Pinyon monitors and Uinta sub by Tierry Budge -- formerly with Wilson Audio and Talon Audio -- provided conversion of electrical signal into physical motion.

What trips out the average tube maniac who hasn't studied up on B.K.'s patent -- and who has? -- is that the power tube doesn't seem to be on. It completely fails to telegraph the tell-tale orange glow of a tube stressing under high voltages. The Butler recipe employs its tubes in thermionic mode only, claiming this is sufficient to parlay the sonics to a robust silicon output stage while maintaining indefinite tube life (shy of cracking the glass envelope that is). Does it work? Those who've read my review of the TDB 2250 -- a push-pull variant with a 6SN7 "driver" -- already know the answer. Those who haven't will have to wait for my slated review of the $18,000/pr Monad monos. That's what us writers do - pre-commit a manufacturer of something rare and exclusive to a review in print. Just kidding. We've talked about this for a while. Actual commencement is merely contingent on available review samples. Paying customers come first, always!

Kiuchi-San of Combak premiered his new Royal Stage rack system called Model RS-15ANV. It combines wooden platforms with brass footers which, upon removal of their flat covers, accept a hollow-tip cone to seat the next shelf, with 200 or 260mm long spacers inserted in-between. The only aspect less than satisfying with this newest creation from master tuner Kiuchi? A very hefty price tag of $5,000 per shelf. He laconically shrugged his shoulders. "If we had thought about price, we'd never started this project. We make very little money on it as it is." There you have it. If your heart is stout, your wallet endowed and your system in need of resonance tuning -- every system is -- Combak's got a very attractive solution.