High End 2016 page 8
Magnum Dynalab, makers of fine over-the-air FM tuners had me looking with great intrigue at their newest products to be released this fall. Designed by Zdenko Zivkovic (formally of Sonic Frontiers), the attractively handsome MD 209 Hybrid stereo receiver boasts both digital readouts and analogue VU meters on its faceplate. Nice.
Never heard a pair of Raidho loudspeakers driven by tube amplification and rarely have I heard a tube amp outperform a CAT amplifier. In the end, the Raidho's never sounded as relaxed, yet expressive and easy on the ears as they did here. Ken Stevens was quite proud to debut the new CAT JL5 Triode stereo amplifier at this year's High End show.
If you've been an audio hobbiest as a long as CAT has been around, which for me dates back to the early 90's, then you too should get that nostalgic feeling whenever you see CAT components. They're sexy, well-made and possess a sound quality that is absoutely legendary...still today. All these years later, I still marvel at their looks and sound quality.
Bruno Ginard, president of Vermeer Audio of France - formally known as Audio Aero - has taken the new Vermeer Audio Two DAC/preamp ($20k) to new sonic heights. Ginard decided to use the highly acclaimed LaFontaine DAC as a stepping stone to the fully equipped Audio Two. Numerous Ins and Outs allow it to handle nearly anything you can throw its way, be it digital or analogue sourced (including DSD thanks in part to its 32Bit/384 kHz converstion circuit coupled to an ultra-low jitter master clock). Our own Dave Thomas has the Audio Two in for review so stay tuned.....
Jadis is another legendary brand that I was introduced to in my formative years as an audiophile. And like the CAT gear, it too represented "a Bucket List" style and sound quality about it. So much so, that though rare and out of the limelight, it still commands a great deal of respect from me and everyone else that remembers how great sounding this product was and still is.
If you're like me, then there should also be a time in your hectic life for a good movie. Nothing quite captures a great film like the big screen and a carefully designed system of great loudspeakers. Ascendo Audio of Stuttgart Germany, has established that honor years ago when I first heard and eventually purchased their Ascendo System M loudspeakers. You can imagine the look on my face when I saw dozens of point source Ascendo monitors decorated all over this darkened room! Ascendo Immersive Audio, the home theater side of their loudspeaker brand showed demonstrated how actually talented this team of designers are at building home theater products too!
Normally, you don't get the chance to see or hear much home theater setups at show's like High End, but trust me, there was nothing normal about this setup. Jurgen Scheuring (above, 3rd from left) and team helped design this 3D setup that boasted Dolby ATMOS, Audo 3D and DTS-X based software, and loudspeakers on the ceilings, floors, sidewalls, frontwalls, in front of and behind the listener Hence, the name Ascendo Immersive Audio. And because it's so new and exciting it stood out on its own the entire weekend. One eye and ear popping scene after the other it appeared these guys have something special in the level of sophistication that came accompanied with this setup. I asked Scheuring if he'd let me hear something like this in my own home and of course he agreed. Unfortunately, I do not have any space for anything like the requirement here. But it's okay to dream. Incredible demo. To schedule your own demo or further info, please visit their website at http://www.aia-cinema.com/
Speaking of 3D, audio recording artist and engineer David Chesky has been on my case about hearing Edgar Choueiri's new BAACH-SP 3D sound system. Working out of nearby Princeton University, professor Choueiri has done something never before done in the history two-channel high end audio: that is to convert it into high end 3D sound! Unfortunately, I did not get the chance to hear what his experiments did here at High End 2016 but am anxious to find out what others thought who might have had the rare opportunity to hear what this system can do. I'm told from many people who ears I trust that this is something unlike any two-channel sound you know. You can find more information http://masisaudio.com/bacch/. I've scheduled a personal visit to hear this system and will report my findings as soon as I am done. Stay tuned!
Oliver Göbel the boywonder of loudspeakers, teamed up with Kronos Audio's Louis Desjardins and CH Precision to produce one of the most impressive sounding rooms at this year's show. Well, claiming this room as among the best should come at no surprise considering I've said that last year and maybe even the year before. This year's show was the best sounding of them all. Not sure if the newest Kronos turntable was the cause, or hearing the huge $250k Epoque Reference loudspeakers driven by an all CH Precision setup was the reason. All I could say to Oliver Göbel, after an extended vinyl session of Boz Scaggs singing Ask Me 'Bout Nothin' (But The Blues), was "congratulations!"
Having always been a intrigued by the counter rotating sub platter on the Kronos Pro turntable ($38k), it was really a nice surprice to finally hear it perform with a speaker system that I had become a big fan of only recently. The results were better than I expected by a wide margin as this system had better overall 3-D space, quicker and tighter bass with greater ease, ebb and flow. Another stand out performer!
Finally got the chance to slip into the Kharma suite and hear their latest (re)creation in the all-new and exciting Kharma Enigma Veyron EV-2 loudspeakers. Here's a massively built but handsome design that had me walking circles around it in complete admiration. The EV-2 towers over my 6'3" frame (and so does its designer Charles Van Oosterum who stands at about 6'7"). This places gigantic 93dB sensitive and diamond-studded 4-way at nearly 7 feet in height. Driven by a quartet of Kharma Exquisite series electronics that included a United Home Audio reel to reel tape deck (among my favorites!), I had the opportunity to hear this system up close and personal for the very first time. United Home Audio decks start at $11,000 and go up from there. The top of the line deck with the Outboard Power Supply (OPS), no transformers in the R2R deck go up to $23,000. The OPS has two huge hand monitored toroidal power transformers, one runs the motors and one runs the head amps in the deck. Also in the top decks there is an all new UHA head amp with no capacitors in the output. All DC offset is handled by new modules right on the board, it doesn’t even amplify any DC from gain stage to gain stage. The use Synergistic Research wire inside, special Japanese resistors, new hyper pure copper boards on the head amps with big wide runs, silver solder points and a silver earth grounding mechanism. Even Next Gen RCA’s and Cardas XLR’s with special Shun Mook tuned chassis as an option.
Very tricked out.
First thing's first, Kharma is a very seriously excellent sounding Dutch-made product whether you choose their electronics all by themselves or go with a systemic approach and buy their electronics and cables too (yes they make excellent sounding cables I'm told). Hard to go wrong in that direction as Oosterum has tuned the system to perform best when paired together. Unfortunately, what was on display here was for the financially endowed folks. So much so, it's I was actually intimidated to ask for the price of this particular system as it looks expensive. That's also saying a lot considering everything at High End 2016 appeared over-the-top in terms of price. The sound however was over the top as well: revealing and dimensional as anything I've heard. Here, I remind you, in a noisy showroom setting. While listening to Lyn Stanley's Potion on tape, I got so entranced that I had momentarily forgot I was at in a showroom. The sheer level of ease and dynamic elegance this system demonstrated was quite remarkable considering how many distractions were actually going on in and around me. There's something special going on with these Kharma products that's worth more investigation. My only wish were that they were lighter and less expensive to be able to have a review sample sent my way. Imagine trying to get these monoliths up into my 3rd floor listening room!! Of course, the other nice thing here was to actually meet Ms. Stanley who also sang acapella during right in the Kharma suite giving showgoers that extra sense of drama to hear music live then played back on system of this magnitude. Yes, the Kharma suite proved to be among my favorites!
Until we meet again!