George Klissarov of exaSound consistently manages to deliver some of the best digital decoding available. His new Playpoint DM DAC/Network audio server at $14'000 US goes full dual mono from the DACs out and includes balanced headphone jacks. aired with the Gershman Acoustics Black Swan and Parasound Halo A-51, it made some very convincing music.
And that segues conveniently into the Gershman Acoustics demonstration room where the lovely Mrs. Gershman showed their fabulous $129'000 Posh flagship as well as the Studio II in a pair of integrated metal stands. Sharing the suite were Krell reps Rondi D'Agostino and Walter Schofield displaying their advanced new Krell 300i integrated as well as the Oracle rep whose pair of tables did double duty as musical source and light show. The priority in this room was music and when the discussion turned not to equipment details but incredible sounding demo material, you knew the hardware had properly done its job.
Martin Logan took to the ballroom with their $33'000 Renaissance 15A and Moon electronics. They filled the room with a wall of detailed sound that rewarded anyone in the sweet spot.
Neat Acoustics brought a generous line-up and when I dropped by, Doug Graham had the big $37'000 Ultimatum XL10s running with a miniscule Rasberry Pi source. Yes, it worked rather nicely and was intended to show that high-quality music didn't need high-cost sources even with a flagship speaker.
A fresh face for me was the well decked-out Acora room. At $38'000, their speaker clad in solid granite and supported with upper crust Audio Research, Esoteric and Aurender proved devoid of cabinet resonance and rewarded with graceful transparency.
Bryston held court in a large room,curiously accessible through a dining area. Mr. Tanner had an interesting trick up his sleeve with a 9-foot tall line source array comprised of 2 model T stacked head to head. At 2 x $9'555/pair, it behaved flagship and delivered the sonic benefits with a vengeance with detail, warmth, scale and soundstaging to rival the price-no-object competition.
Samuel Furon of Atelier Audio marched to the beat of a different drummer with a pair of open baffle Altec 604E with a combination Micro-Seki TT/Thomas Schick/Miyaima Saboten L front end and a rotation of Ocellia or Yamamoto electronics. This combination displayed the hallmarks of the high-efficiency approach with sound that was dense, visceral and dynamically communicative. Additionally he showed the award-winning Mulidine speaker paired with Aqua Acoustic electronics. I needed to clock more listening time here.
Atoll Electronique created a highly successful pairing of $15'000/pr Davis Renoir speakers with CJ electronics. My listening notes say big and bouncy and they were indeed that.
Audio by Mark Jones never disappoints and the combination of Magico and Luxman this year were epitome sound – suave and sophisticated.
Audio Note UK did a tantalizing live versus playback demonstration with Vincent Belanger manning both the cello and volume control.
Audio One showed a sophisticated setup of B&W and Moon product.
Audiogen High End Canada mounted several systems. When I sat down, system #2 comprised Verity Audio Amadis S ($42,495) backed by Nagra electronics. Nagra saw a fair bit of presence at this show and this combination was devastatingly authoritative. Other combos included DeVore Fidelity, Wavac, Egglestonworks, Lamm, German Physics and Diapason. There was no shortage of quality product from Audiogen to be worthy of repeat attendance.
Charisma Audio and TEO Audio offered a good assortment of eye and ear candy, showing a gorgeous AudioSpace LS5/9 along with their LS3/5A priced at $7'400 and $3'950 respectively. The superb 300B based AudioSpace preamp and companion mono amps were proudly on display along with a Well Tempered TT and a host of top-notch product from the Charisma stable with TEO cables.
Crown Mountain Imports brought their A game with a pair of ProAc K3 in the $19'000 range matched with Norma Audio electronics. Mr. Tiefenboeck always manages to assemble noteworthy systems and this year was no exception. The room was well worth the visit and a bastion of good music.
In the DR Acoustics room designer Daniel Robidoux showed his latest cable products and updates to his highly regarded power line conditioner. Patents are pending so there is some innovative thinking afoot.
The Entracte room held the magic of designer Gilbert Yeung in full Blue Circle glory. Through Mr. Yeung's electronics, the $17'200 Mårten Miles 5 speakers sounded natural and understated, geared for long-term musical exploration and enjoyment.
And that bridges to the Saturn Audio room. Rene Evans of Mystic Audio and Bonefish fame has finally thrown his hat into the manufacturing ring with a line of electronics under the Saturn Audio brand. The sleek stylish exterior pays homage to Mr. Yeung with recessed circle metalwork and a blue Saturn ‘ring' bisecting the equator. Built in Canada, it had decorator appeal married to serious performance. Priced between $3'950 to $4'950 for the individual components, the products showed high caliber into the $9'500 PMC speakers.
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