HE 2004 Key Kim
The 2004 Home Entertainment Show
I always enjoy the Home Entertainment Show when it takes place in New York and this year’s HE 2004 was no different. No need worrying about flight schedules or hotel reservations, just hop, skip and a jump on a IRT #5 subway and I’m there in 15 minutes. When I arrived, fellow Stereo Timers Greg Petan, Nelson Brill and I began walking the halls of the New York Hilton Hotel to see all of the latest and greatest the high-end world had to offer. It didn’t look as crowded as it did during the last show in 2002 but I was still excited as a kid in a candy store.
Von Schweikert & VAC
The Von Schweikert/VAC Room had the longest line as far as two-channel audio was concerned. As a new journalist covering my first show, I just had to find out what all the commotion was about. In this room, Von Schweikert’s VR4Jr ($ 3,995), was fed from VAC’s new Phi Beta Integrated Amplifier ($19,000), a unique and perhaps the highest quality integrated amplifier yet produced. The digital was handled by an Oracle CD transport ($7,500) and the Electrocompaniet DAC ($1,995) while cabling was a 2” wide mono-crystal copper foil speaker cable ($ 1,500 set/8FT), a ½” wide mono-crystal copper foil interconnect ($ 750 set/1Meter RCA), and a Type II power cord ($500/5FT) from Verbatim Cables. Fortunately, it was well worth the 30-minute wait. The Von Schweikert VR4Jr delivered, leaving the crowds shaking their heads after a seven-minute demo. The system was truly surprising and even better for me once I managed to get to the sweet spot. The sound was impressive, airy, dynamic, rich and full-bodied.
The Reimyo Room also provided some extraordinary experiences. These sophisticated new Reimyo electronics were music to my ears. I visited all 4 days and the sound got better each day. Mr. Kiuchi was using his Harmonix resonance control tuning devices with magical effect. It was just amazing that the Reimyo PAT 777 300B tube stereo amplifier ($22,000) at only seven-watts, was driving the Harmonix Bravo monitor ($3,900) with prototype (currently named the B-Bass) sub ($3,900) at such a high magnitude. This is no ordinary seven watts; it drove the Bravo’s 87 dB sensitivity and passive sub with brilliant control, even though there were times that there was a little stress at peak when the speaker was pushed with complex materials. This room was among my favorites. The sound was dynamic and open with a midrange to lust for and, yes, it was emotionally involving which I believe is one of the key measures of high-end sound. The digital source was the Reimyo CDP-777 CD player that was just as remarkable and amazingly attractive. At $14,000, it was built like a tank, with the capability of upsampling standard redbook 16/44.1 khz up to 24/176.4 khz. This digital marvel had me going wild over its ability to play everything I threw at it - from Jacintha to Edvard Grieg. This was no ordinary CD sound. An ALS-777 AC power stabilizer ($3,800) and all cabling and tuning devices from Harmonix completed the set-up.
The Goldmund room looked quite familiar. I saw Swiss precision and super quality. The Goldmund system showed off a great sense of rhythmic drive and a beautiful soundstage with the Epilogue 1 loudspeakers ($26,140), the new Mimesis 18.4 200 watt monoblock amplifiers ($14,900), Mimesis 30 Multi-channel Processor ($17,750), and digital from the Eidos 18D Multi-format DVD player ($10,570) and all-Goldmund cabling completed the set-up. These small speakers delivered truly astonishing sound and size. Spectators actually looked for a non-existent sub-woofer!
Prame and Jadis
My next stop was HiFi AV Supplies room. I just had to listen to the new Prame HR-2 loudspeaker ($11,000) from France. It features a beautiful wooden body and sculpted wood horn. This 100dB efficient loudspeaker was driven by a Jadis DA-60 amplifier ($9,500). The music was smooth, full sounding and inviting with a great sense of spaciousness. The digital was front end was the Jadis CD player ($2,500). It seems to me that this speaker would be an ideal match for singled-ended amplifiers.
Focus Audio and Blue Circle
The Sonic Spirits room featured the Focus Audio and Blue Circle Audio electronics from Canada. The Focus Audio FS888 loudspeaker came in a beautiful piano burr oak finish ($7,750). The Blue Circle Audio BC206 stereo hybrid amp ($9,995) and Blue Circle BC3000 MKII tubed, dual mono preamp ($6,495), Resolution Audio Opus 21 CD player completed the system. The cabling was all Audience AU24 and the power conditioning was the Audience Adept Response. The large BC206 stereo hybrid, at 180 watts per channel, had full control over the Focus FS888 to good effect. The music was natural and clean with an open sound. This amp will also be available in custom designer colors.
GTT Audio room
The stunning Kharma Midi Exquite-DE speaker ($75,000) was driven by two sets of Lamm ML2.1 SET mono blocks ($29,290/pair), and the Walker Audio Proscenium Gold LP turntable ($27,000), this turntable provided the best analog at the show. The system consisted of Lamm Industries LP2 Deluxe Phono Stage ($6,990), Lamm L2 pre-amp ($14,290), Kharma Enigma cabling, Shelter 90X cartridge, and the Gingko Audio Cloud 10 component platforms. This room (except for the price) was among my favorites; refined, detailed and very musical.
Overall, I was very happy with the show, my only regret was that more manufacturers and designers were not present. I expect a much bigger turn out next year. See you there!