The New York Audio 2013 Key Kim and Clement Perry
Wow! New York Audio Show Yes, which ran from Friday thru Sunday (April 12th -14th) here in the world's greatest city did not disappoint. The Palace Hotel located directly across the street from the historic St.Patrick's Cathedral could have received some well-deserved blessings. Unfortunately, it didn't start out that way. April showers visited with a vengeance on Friday bringing in its path some nasty winds and rain. Diehard audiophiles like myself, and what looked like the entire NY Audio society members made it despite the dreary weather. The Palace proved only a half-hour ride on the busy NYC subway from my home in downtown, Manhattan. And what a relief. No rushing to the airport this time or 6-hour flights to worry about. This show, was being hosted right in my backyard for the second straight year! And It was really nice to see and reconnect with my audio friends. To do what else? Talk about the latest and greatest in audio. Overall, I really enjoyed the quality of the sound of the show. Here are some of the rooms that I found to be very inviting. (Key Kim)
This year's NY Audio Show proved to be bigger and better than 2012! Attendance was not only bigger than last years, but it was also more alive (read:typical loud NY crowd), that acted as if one year took too damn long. This year's venue was the Palace Hotel and that turned out to be charm due to the size of its ballrooms (while the majority of the rooms were standard sized). And this show wasn't just for New Yorkers I was surprised to discover. I met a couple of folks that were busily moving from room to room, some of whom flew in from as far away as Kansas and Oregon. And get this, their sole purpose was to get to the NY Audio Show first, then see the Big Apple second. Activities at this year's show were numerous as well. Seminars, workshops and live performances were happening on the hour in various locations inside the Palace.
A lot of thanks has to go out to the ambitious Chester Group who sponsored this event once again. And once again they did a terrific job. Originally from the UK, with offices now here in NY, Austrialia and Sweden, they've scheduled more high-end shows in those countries as well for 2013. I take my hat off to this group as they have accomplished something that is not easy: throw one hell of a difficult event in the greatest city on earth and please a few thousand difficult folks at the same a time! Based solely on the positive vibes and the huge attendance, I'll bet on another show in 2014.
What I personally love about the NY Audio Show is that it caters to the hobbyist. Unlike the CES, and to some degree the Rocky Mountain Audio Fest, this show is about anyone and everyone who is a fan of two-channel audio. And from the looks of it, there's a huge fan base in this town. Though excited about this year's show, most of the attendees were on their best behavior despite the ever growing crowds.
Of course, this was the perfect time and place to catch up to old aquaitances and friends of the industry who share similar passions.
There were lots of new products on display at this year's show giving showgoers plenty to whet their whistle over. This year's venue was the new and ritzy Palace hotel. Some of the lower floors had suites that were so big that I swear I needed GPS just to find my way to the next room. The good thing about not knowing where you're going in the Palace, was that you were most likely going to run into something you wanted to see anyway.
Before going on about the rooms and the gear Key and I visited, I personally wanted to give a special mention to those guys that made high-end audio in NYC a place of wonderment and awe for me back in the early '90s when I had my first-ever experience with a high-end two-channel rig.
Andy Singer of Sound By Singer. Always talking shop. Even when trying to catch a breather!
Eliott Fishkin of Innovative Audio (center) sandwiched between Vladimir Shushurin of Lamm Audio and his beautful daughter Elin.
Ginko Audio, a NJ-based manufacturer, showed off their newest creation in the DanaCable Sapphire Reference series of cables at the show. Our own Greg Simmons has just reviewed them and found them to be among the best he's heard and that says a lot considering their not nearly as expensive as they might appear (around $3k for an 8-foot run of speaker cables). Stay tuned for Greg's upcoming review.
There's David Chesky, a NYC resident and local icon, just perusing the show refusing to stay in his booth.
Caught up with Steve Guttenburg, aka The Audiophiac trying on some new super-sized headphones.
If there's anybody that has become a rock star at thesee shows it has to MBL. Again, as last year, the line to get in to hear whatever they had goiing on inside was just way too long. Rumor had it, they were demoing home theater that featured a Sony 4K projector. Fortunately, they did have the latest Sony 4K flatscreen ($22K) to help pass the time while waiting to get into the MBL suite.
Yep, it's true dude. You are so special that Tube Research Labs named their preamp after you.
A throwback design from Modern Record Console Inc. Not bad looking either.
Chad Kassem of Acoustic Sounds was also at this year's show selling his humongous collection of LPs. Nothing like digging through a pile of rich vinyl recordings looking for that special gem of a recording.
GTT Audio was a room that I found fascinating for a couple of reasons. One is, Bill Parrish is the owner and operator behind GTT Audio and Video and because he lives right over the Hudson river, in Long Valley, NJ, he's considered a local. Duly noted, considering he's local, I was somewhat surprised Parrish only demo'd his smaller arsenal of electronics considering he brings the big rigs out to 'Vegas (CES) and Denver (RMAF), both of which are much further away. If Parrish thought, like most of us, that this show would be a smaller, but albeit an exciting show - he was half right. The show was exciting, and big. Lets see what happens next year. Nevertheless, Parrish hooked up a pair of YG Acoustics' Carmel loudspeakers ($18k) to the strikingly attractive Soulution 530 integrated amplifer and 540 SACD player combo. The asking price of about $85k for this combo is less than a pair of reference Soulution amplifiers. Here, you get an entire Soulution rig that includes their SACD player! And guess what, I enjoyed myself and never thought twice about whether this was the less expensive system. That was because I was fully engaged into music Parrish was pouring into this room.
As usual, Parrish is a real music lover and no matter the location, each time I stroll into his room (s), he plays something from his ever-growing jazz collection. This time it was some piece I couldn't recall ever hearing. It was from legendary jazz trumpeter Freddy Hubbard (who just so happens to be my favorite trumpeter). I couldn't believe I didn't know the song or the musician. Stumped, Parrish's next selection was a contemporary singer and relative newcomer (to me anyway) Melody Gardot's nostalgic and hauntingly sweet "So We Meet Again My Heartache." Of course, I called out her name only because I had been introduced to her only weeks before luckily. The music was so good, it literally drew a crowd into the already crowded space (above photo). I've got to admit, high-end audio is so much more enjoyable when while being introduced to new and exciting music. Especially on a great sounding systems. It's also more fun to name the artist instead of the equipment. Hats off once again to you Mr. Parrish. (Clement Perry)
Rhapsody Music & Cinema
I would like to congratulate Bob Visintainer of Rhapsody Music & Cinema in New York City for running three great sounding rooms.
Kondo Audio Note of Japan – Showing off an all-Kondo system (except the $18,000.00 Pi Greco Symhonia CD player which was used as a transport only). The forthcoming flagship is the new generation Kagura (price TBD) monoblock amplifiers with 211 triode output tubes in parallel single ended design. It produces a glorious 55 watts per-side and boasts three independent main transformers and four choke coils in addition to, of course, its legendary silver output transformers.
The name Kagura means “Music for the Gods” in Japanese. Listening via Vinyl playback on the Ginga turntable and CD via the Symphonia player feeding the KSL-DAC proved enthralling.The Kagura powered the Biyura loudspeakers ($62,366) - a two-way, sporting a field coil woofer and horn loaded - with an effortlessness that had many show goers in awe. Me included. The overall sound was of this rig was as impressive as it was pure and natural. Timber and tonality was nothing short of intoxicating.
The analog set up consisted of the Ginga ($100k) turntable system, an IO-M moving coil phono cartridge ($8,445) with an M1000 MKII ($96,516) preamplifier with built in phono amplifier and KSL silver cables completed the system.
Vivid/MolaMola – The Vivid G3 Giya ($40k) loudspeakers sounded transparent, detailed, and very spacious. They were paired with two mono amps ($15k) and a preamplifier ($10k) from newbie, MolaMola of Holland. The MolaMola amplifier is based on Bruno Putzeys’ latest Ncore design platform and its latest generation Hypex NC1200 Class D technology. Philip O’Hanlon always brings fabulous music to the show and he played it on the new Luxman’s DSD DA06 converter ($6k). (key Kim)
Raidho/Merrill/Kondo – Bob Visintainer was showcasing the outstanding RaidhoD1 ($27k with stands) loudspeakers from Denmark , the Merrill Veritas ($12k) mono amplifiers from New Jersey based on the latest HypexNcoreNC1200 Class D technology, an incredible sounding Kondo G-70 ($33,968) line-level preamplifier, and a Pi Greco Symfonia ($18k) CD player from Italy. Merrill Veritas amplifiers drove the Raidho D1's with power and control. The Veritas monos were finished elegantly in black made of a solid billet aircraft chassis design for isolation of components and to further minimize microphonic vibrations. (Key Kim)
Bob Visintainer of Rhapsody Music & Cinema, located right in the heart of the Big Apple, is growing slowly but steadily both in stature as well as the brands he carefully chooses to carry (evident by three rooms at the show). Of the wonderful products on display, the one thing that stood out for me were the IPC Acoustic Energizers. Many of us here have grown quite fond of the IPC devices which, in addition to the Energizers also include the Sound Power AC conditioiner, EQ Panels, CD and LP Enhancer. Visintainer has visited my home to hear these products first hand and to say he was impressed would be an understatement. He is now a dealer and is convinced, as I am, that life without IPC just isn't quite the same. (Clement Perry)
I was very happy to see Kiuchi san back in the New York show. What can I say?Kiuchi san always manages to put up a wonderful-sounding room and this year was no different.The sound was very transparent, detailed and musical with the Bravo loudspeakers doing their required disappearing act quite easily.
The system consisted of Combak single-driver Bravo ($8k) loudspeakers with Dinosaur speaker stands ($4k pair not including feet). The Bravo loudspeakers were driven beautifully by a KAP-777 stereo amplifier ($27k), the CAT-777 tube preamplifier ($24),the CDP-777 CD transport ($12k) and the DAP-999EX ($10k) Limited Digital Audio Processor. All cables were by Harmonix. Wynn Audio from Canada sponsored this room and he is the new Reimyo distributor for the U.S. (Key Kim)
Music First Audio/Wells Audio/Audio Space/Resonessence Labs
I really enjoyed the sound of this room and, better yet, it didn’t cost arm and a leg. The Audio Space’s BBC-approved version of the classic LS-3/5a monitor ($1,790/pair) and the SW-1A Bass Module ($1,190.00) sounded impressive driven by Wells Audio Innamorata ($6k) stereo power amplifier, the Music First Audio Baby Reference preamplifier ($6,990) andthe Resonessence Labs Invicta DAC ($3,990).All cables were from Audience. (Key Kim)
Beauty of Sound & LauferTeknik
The Leonardo Model 8 ($65k), ribbon-planner loudspeakers from Italy imported by Laufer Teknik produced a wonderful sound driven by the Tube Guru from Budapest, The Mig ($9,500) 6C33C single-ended stereo amplifier and a TubeGuru Reference ($5,400) phono stage ECC808.
Front-end consisted of the gorgeous looking Triangle Art Signature Turntable ($12,500), and Ikeda Sound Labs KAI ($9,500) moving coil cartridge mounted on the Ikeda Sound Labs IT-407CR1 12’” ($6,500) tonearm. Cables were the new sensational High Fidelity Cable designed by none other than Rick Schultz. Beauty of Sound imports both the Tube Guru and the Ikeda Sound Labs from Japan. Surprisingly the Mig 6C33C single-ended stereo amplifier with only 14 watts per side had no problem driving the Leonardo Model 8 loudspeakers to a realistic listening level and it sounded great. (Key Kim)
The Beauty of Sound/Laufer Teknik room turned out to be one of the rooms where the gang met. From right to left above is Dave Kaplan, co-inventor of the Shatki Halographs, Stereo Times contributord Dan Secula and the legendary Lew "Left Channel" Lanese. It's been some years since Lew and I got together for a listening session so this served as one of those rare occasions where we could listen together like old times. Also, I got the chance to show, rather then tell him about those gorgeous sounding Leonardo loudspeakers I've come to admire so much. Lew Loved the sound just as I expected. (Clement Perry)
Audio Loft/Coincident speaker Technology
New York City dealer Audio Loft set up an outstanding sound room using an all Coincident Speaker Technology system; the Coincident Pure Reference Extreme loudspeakers ($26,800/pair) biamped with a pair of Coincident Dragon 211PP Monoblocks ($10,999/pair). These handled the low end section while the Coincident’s M300B Frankenstein MK II monoblocks ($5,999) powered the mids and top-end. Their Statement Line Stage ($5,499), and Statement Phono ($5,999) completed the rest of the lineup. The source was the VPI Classic 4 ($8k) with rosewood base and the HR-X 12.7 tonearm with a Dynavector DRT XV-1t cartridge. This room produced sound that was transparent, detailed, and very natural with beautiful soundstage. (Key Kim)
Precision Audio & Video, the US distributor of Belgian manufacturer Venture Audio put up an excellent sounding demonstration. The system consisted of its new Vici 2.1 loudspeakers ($36k/pair with an AW500 active woofer), driven by the Venture V200A+ ($120k/pair) MOSFET design Class A monoblocks and a Venture VP100L preamplifier ($35,100). The source was the Jason CD transport ($22,707) and a Weiss Engineering Medea + Fire Wire DAC ($21,799). All cables were Venture Grand Reference Diamond and Diamond Signature. The sound was excellent it had a beautiful three dimensional soundstage that was deep and wide and very dynamic. (Key Kim)
Gideon Schwartz’s Audio Arts produced high quality sound from a large study room. Schwartz featured the handmade Zellaton Studio Reference One ($52,750) loudspeakers from Germany which were driven by the sublime sounding and Swiss-made CH Precision A1 power amplifiers ($37,475/each) and a Trinity preamplifier ($34,740).
Source was provided by battery-powered Simon Yorke S10 turntable ($19,950) with Jan Allaerts MC1 Boron MKII moving-coil cartridge ($4,950). All cables were Van Den Hul. The sound had a nice natural presentation with a lot of detail and was unforced. (Key Kim)
I already knew Gideon Schwartz, sole proprietor of NYC's Audio Arts had excellent taste and class by the exquisite products he carefully chose to represent. However, when I walked into the suite he chose at this year's show I was left speechless. The sheer size and look of this room not to mention the beauty of the components was captivating even before Schwartz began digging through his LP collection for a song to hear. And when the music poured forth (don't remember the artist), it was what I expected from previous encounters with the Zellaton/CH Precision combo: neutral, yet sweet and ultra-detailed without the etch or glare. Of course, I wanted to stay in this room forever.