High End 2017: CP Report - Sonic Impressions Page 2
Simon Lai, president of KingSound electrostatic loudspeakers (top photo), was proud to show off his newest and most impressive line of loudspeakers at this year's show. There's little info on them as they have just been released as of this writing. However, the performance of this two-piece system above, which features a separate mid-high frequency panel as well as a woofer panel, driven by an all VAC tube system sounded better than I have ever heard from KingSound electrostats. Be on the lookout as a review sample has been officially placed!
Estelon introduced their new model Lynx wireless loudspeaker ($55k). Yes, wireless my friends. And based on what I heard wireless isn't remotely as bad as I thought. Here, the Lynx demonstrated a level of transparency and resolution coupled with rich colors and hues that proved very impressive. Not sure what type of wireless technology Estelon used during this demo (or whether the signal was being fed via a hi-rez file), but, based on what I heard, high-end wireless sound has obviously come a very long way.
Zellaton Audio delighted the crowds by introducing their newer model Stage loudspeaker ($80k), driven by the all-new YS Sound mono amplifiers of Japan. The incredibly extravagant and over-sized Refent Audio Gramaphone Unit turntable created quite a lot of stares as did the the entire arsenal of Schnerzinger cables did for me. The three devices with the antennae (photo above) located directly behind the YS mono amps are part of the GIGA-PULSE PROTECTOR interfering field elimination system technology Schnerzinger uses in all of their cabling. Sophisticated and expensive, it has always raised some interest as I am the consumate tweaker and would love to find out exactly what this stuff is actually doing. I could not hear it in the room as there was just too much activity to even guess much less listen. Intriguing gear Schnerzinger is.
Frederik Carøe, the man behind Duelund Coherent Audio, has now launched his own Coherent Audio 8" Precision driver. If your loudspeakers has the Danish-made Duelund capacitors you're probably going to boast about it. From what I've heard, they're among the best available and as a result do not come cheap. Now, my guess is there's going to be some exotic loudspeakers using Duelund drivers?
Kerem Kucukaslan of Absolare creates an atmosphere that captures my undivided attention at each High End event. So much so, I find myself hanging out in his suite far more than I should. This year was no exception thanks in part to that wonderful sounding vinyl rig that featured the omnipotent Kronos Pro 'table and especially the excellent sounding ($170k) Lyra loudspeaker from Rockport Technologies. However, the sound, not discounting the excellent analog playback, really came to life - for me that is - when DJ Kerem Kucukaslan switched from the Kronos to the Laufer Teknik 32-Core (Analog) Memory Player ($60k fully loaded).
Over the years, I've seen the look on Karem's face when the sound wasn't operating on all cylinders and I've also seen buttons popping off his shirt when the sound is reproduced as excellent as it was here - under less-than-ideal showroom conditions I remind you. The Rockport Lyra's performance, through the 32-Core MP, for these ears, became a tad more linear with a quicker bass response. Through the Kronos Pro, it seemed to have just a little room hump in the midbass. I also noticed a slightly enhanced top-end shimmer and a slightly more pronounced three-dimensional stage. I knew something had happened that was positive for all involved because the sound got better with each day it seemed. I never got the chance to ask Kerem what changed besides the system just settling in, but these trade shows are unusually tricky - especially when a manufacturer introduces a new product that may have to endure further burn-in. You can do everything right and somehow the sound just doesn't quite come through as you hoped for in the first 24 - 48 hours. Fortunately, from my vantage point, the sound on Friday, Saturday and Sunday proved spectacular! It left me feeling vindicated - and buttons popping of my shirt! - as to why I have referenced the Laufer Teknik 32-Core digital dynamo as my go-to digital source for over a decade. Bravo!
If there was a theme to the Kharma room's look, feel and sound this year it had to be NATURE. Their new Kharma Veyron Enigma ($220k) coupled to an arsenal of Kharma amplification, a dCS Vivaldi digital stack and lastly, the eye-popping Clearaudio turntable, produced a sound that was the best I've heard to date from company head Charles Van Oosterum. The Veyron Enigma sports a diamond studded mid/tweeter and tweeter with a 7" and 11" carbon woofer system, sounded as natural as the all outdoors! The only downside, due to the heavier than usual drapery, was the high level of humidity this room created. This created some shorter than usual listening sessions but based on what I did actually hear I was not just impressed; I was stunned but the overall naturalness and wholesomeness of the reproduction. A big part of attending shows like these and hearing systems of this magnitude is that they can force you to dream of what lies ahead in terms of sonic excellence derived through the diamond speaker driver technology. The Kharma Audio suite placed this listener in the state I've enjoyed only on the rarest of occasions: and that's a state of awe!
Key Kim stands next to the Sigma Acoustics' MAAT Classical loudspeakers to illustrate just how massive they are.
Aldo Zaninello of Extreme Audio of Italy invited me to hear his newest monstrosity called the Sigma Acoustics' MAAT Classical loudspeaker ($150k). Zaninello wanted to demo this super-sensitive 3-way (100 dB!), dipole ribbon design at a nearby Sheraton hotel for a certain few trusted ears. Always a fan of Sigma Acoustics' smaller designs, I was glad to get the invite. Moreover, I was quite a surprised to see this massively built transducer being driven with incredible ease by a pair of pure Class-A, 50-watt hybrid mono amps from Riviera Audio Labs (also from Italy). The sound was musically rich, detailed and remarkably focused despite the fact these MAAT's appeared way too big for this space. Bass was a bit boomy but that was to be expected when you've a typical hotel suite like this with no room treatments whatsoever. That being said, there was a sense of ease and dynamic grace that few dynamic speakers provide. The Sigma Acoustics' MAAT Classical didn't have any issues in that area. They're very, very impressive loudspeakers and I'm glad Key and I got an invitation to hear them. They make shows like this worth the trip all on their own.