Alexus Audio/Bache Audio. This was interesting. Two Russian engineers from Brooklyn got together to show their own electronics and speakers. One of them designed the Alexus Audio 833 transmitter tube monos as well as the AB Audio preamplifier in use. The other gentleman designed the speakers: the 3-way bass reflex Bache Metro-001 Speakers ($10'000/pr) and the 4-way vented box with active powered bass and mid/woofers called Bache 002. I'm not sure what the rest of the electronics were. I emailed them after the show and got no reply. When I was in this room, they were playing a lovely classical piece with a cello solo. The string tone was rich and full-bodied and had a vibrancy that commanded your attention. These guys were short on words and just let the system speak for them.....which it did very well.

Adirondack Audio/Soulines. The monster Plinius SA Reference amp ($20'900) had pride of place in this room, sitting like a king on a dedicated stand and providing 300 watts per channel of Class A power to the floorstanding Triangle Signature Alpha speakers ($10'00/pr). Upstream were the following components: Kaitaki line preamp ($6'250), Koru phono preamp ($3'900), Tiki digital processor ($4'775) and a Plinius CD transport. A turntable brand new to me, Soulines, were doing vinyl with their Kubrick model ($4'000 without arm). This system pretty well nailed the audiophile checklist with a wide open soundstage, focused images and good extension on top and bottom. I played the Albert King CD track "The Very Thought of You" and the system did a nice job with it, although I have heard his voice sound a bit fuller on other systems including my own. The bass went deep and was clean with good pitch definition but was not the last word in sheer bass slam. At $10'000, you don't get everything. Still, this was a very fine sounding system.

Adirondack Audio/Technics. It was a real shocker to see Technics back in the high-end audio game. And they made a mighty splash with their SB-C700 two-way stand-mounted monitor ($1'700/pr)! Lots of folks were talking about this speaker and it was all praise. From its clean modern lines to its disarmingly clear and alive sound, this speaker gets my vote for best new product of the show as well as best value speaker of the show! I grabbed a reprint of Steve Guttenberg's CNET review of this speaker and he nailed it - check out his short review online.  The beautiful curved sides of the speaker are not just for looks. Apparently they are comprised of numerous layers of   polymeric sheets that form a very stiff and non-resonant cabinet. This must be part of the equation that allows the driver to project so much energy into the room.

The drivers are also interesting, with a 6.5-inch flat mod/woofer (harkening back to Sao Win's flat diaphragm of his early 1990s' SM-8 and SM-10 speakers) and coaxially placed 0.75-inch aluminium tweeter in the center. The demo also included an explanation of the Technics integrated amplifier used to drive the speakers. An important point is what Technics call LAPC or load adaptive phase calibration. That uses DSP to optimize in-room frequency response. I read Steve Guttenberg's follow-up review of Technics' larger SU-C700 integrated amp and he mentioned other amps that mate well and are within the same budget. A much larger $27'000 Technics floorstanding speaker was also demoed with the larger SU-C700 amp but I was more impressed with the smaller speaker. While I used to recommend to friends on a budget the Sjofn The Clue speaker (Sjofn are no longer in business), the SB-C700 will now take its place. My only caveat is not knowing how much LAPC contributed to the sound.

Gershman Acoustics/Lamm Engineering/Oracle Audio Technologies.
This room was the best I have ever heard a Gershman Acoustics speaker sound. Their Grande Avant Garde ($13'000/pr) were partnered with some top-shelf electronics including an Oracle Paris CD250 CD player ($7'000), Lamm LL2.1 preamp ($5'690), Lamm M1.2 monos ($27'190/pair) and Nordost cables. Marvin Gaye was playing and I was immediately struck by the palpable presence of the vocals. Another male vocalist with guitar accompaniment showed the system could handle a soaring voice with no sense of strain. The mids and highs here were supremely natural and expressive. The bass was handled by a custom-made woofer whose backwave is channeled into a novel platform designed to attenuate the woofer rear wave. Gershman calls this BCT or backwave control technology. The platform sits under the speaker, raising it about 3.5 inches. The cabinet has a port on the bottom that directs the back wave into the channels in the bass trap. These channels are not a transmission line but there appear to be similarities. They are designed to allow the woofer to reach deeper with better control and definition.  It seemed to be doing its job well. I did feel that there was some discontinuity between the remarkably clear and open mids and highs and the somewhat more recessed character of the bass but it did not distract from my enjoyment of this room and the wonderful music selections they played.

Martin Logan/Rogue Audio. This room was among the largest and when I saw the monolithic Martin Logan Neolith speakers (75 inches tall, $79'995/pr), I quickly realized why. Rogue Audio supplied two pairs of Apollo monos ($14'995/pr) to power these beasts. The Neoliths sport a 48" x 22" electrostatic panel mated to a 12" forward-firing woofer and a 15" rear-firing woofer all housed in a phenolic resin polymer frame weighing in at 385 pounds each. They proudly pointed out that they were using the Berkeley DAC to play standard and hi-rez files as well as a Herron 2 preamplifier. I sat near the front at first and listened to Paul Simon's Me and Julio Down by the Schoolyard. In this seat, the bass was boomy and nowhere near fast enough to keep up with the panels. I moved back a number of rows and listened to Sting's "Walking on the Moon". The bass was better there. I then tried a center seat about two-thirds of the way back and noticed that there was no center image. All of the sound was localized in the speakers. Something was not right.

April Music. A minimalist approach was on display here, showing what could be accomplished with a simple and elegant system comprised of the Aura Note v.2 combination CD player/DAC/FM tuner/125wpc class D integrated amplifier ($2'500) and a pair of Focus Audio FC6 SE stand-mounted loudspeakers (CDN $1'500/pr). Cabling was Verrastar Grand Illusion speaker cables (ca. $1'700/pair). Here was a system that should have very high WAF if you need to minimize the real estate taken up in by your system. I very much enjoyed the sound here, finding it to be coherent with more bass than I would have expected from such small speakers. Perhaps the midrange suffered slightly from this little woofer trying to do both bass and midrange but the system surely made a good showing. I haven't heard a Focus Audio speaker since I heard one of their floorstanding models many years ago at CES and it was good to hear them in action again here in the U.S.

Teresonic LLC. Mike Zivkovic, Teresonic's speaker designer, showed the single-driver 104dB Ingenium XR ($19'985/pr) with a stereo Teresonic 2A3 tube amp ($15'000) and Fosgate Signature Mk.2 phono stage ($2'500). The source was an AMG Giro turntable with 9W2 9-inch tonearm ($9'900) and Teatro cartridge ($2'750).  I have heard Teresonic speakers at RMAF in prior years and found them to be among the most successful implementations of a single-driver (often Lowther-based) high-efficiency speaker. Mike played for us a wonderful Blue Note LP of Willie Nelson and Wynton Marsalis Two Men with the Blues. He followed with a flamenco record which showed off one of the strengths of the design with lightning-fast transients. The overall presentation could have used a bit more meat on the bones for my taste but I know the Teresonic speakers are capable of this, having heard them evince it in past years. The whole single-driver speaker philosophy requires a certain type of dedication to get everything just right, but the rewards can be considerable.