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From here on it was time to move forward into the lands of exotic and alluring audiophilia and meet tried and true performers and ambitious fresh faces. In the unusual and interesting category, Tri-Art Audio was demonstrating electronics encased in concrete and bamboo. The novelty of the approach was backed up by decent sound quality. The TriPath class D-based amplifiers were feeding a pair Rosso Fiorentino loudspeakers to almost tubular effect. Sundry Franck Tchang acoustic resonators and tuning blocks helped the room acoustics.

Kevin Farquhar and Steven Ginsberg of Tri-Art Audio

Championing the small single full-range driver approach was Mike Tang Audio with two variations on the Feastrex, a lovely product constructed from handmade Japanese washi paper with leather surrounds. Sonically illuminated with the viscerality of his beloved Decca cartridge and seductive tubes, his setup proved satisfying and addictive. By the second day his Walnut-finished pair with Alnico magnets drew heavy crowds that insisted on extended listening.

Mike Tang

Simplifi was running two pairs of active speakers, one from Swiss-based PSI, the other from Gradient, front end courtesy of Resolution Audio Opus 21 and DNM cables. The PSI A215 was a medium-sized true studio mastering floorstander with daunting dynamic range and an ability to maintain character over an exceptionally wide and deep listening area. According to the exhibitor it can also pass a square wave unaltered.

The new Gradient Revolution 'One Box' which includes crossover and bi-amplification showed its 20Hz prowess in the demonstration setup as well as meeting the designer’s goal of almost total immunity from room interaction. Again, wide deep soundstaging with great stability. Also waiting in the wings was a pair of Gradient Helsinki loudspeaker freshly unwrapped and awaiting a quiet moment to set up. If only time had allowed.

Living Sound Stereo was offering up some musical delight with a combination of Linn analog, Chord CD and CJ amplification into a pair of Focus Audio loudspeakers. Their charm and warmth took away the autumn chill.

Tri-Cell was one of those rooms that lets you exhale and relax to inhale fresh and renewed. The Accustic Arts-based system was feeding a pair of 2-way Joseph Audio Pulsar speakers to become the antithesis of artificial by creating an enveloping and engrossing experience that lets you forget about the task and settle into the music. Where many exhibits sought to hit you over the head with awe, this was a place of sweet refuge.

Anyone who has heard a product from Ching Poon's Monarchy Audio knows that warm and intimate are keywords. Paired with the Lenehan Audio S2 monitors those words held true. Even the modest DVD player source couldn’t hold back the torrent of lush detailed music that enveloped the room. This was a small system that played with grace. Count this amongst the musical refuge locations.