HE2006: Music Direct, E.A.R., Valve, Legacy

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by Josh Ray on June 13 '06

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Online retailer Music Direct demoed an assortment of their equipment, from the giant Legacy 20/20 speakers to a bevy of new components. The new CD player from E.A.R. won big praise at CES and is shaping up to be a killer product. The amplification is by Valve, an import from South Africa. Their Black Widow preamps and amps go for $3500 and $4000 respectively.

The first day of the show, the room sounded just bizarre. With those massive 12" woofers, three total (1 down-firing), the room was just bass crazy. More is not better. But Music Direct quickly threw up some curtains on the back wall, adjusted the speakers and, damn, if it didn't sound awesome. The bass was still huge, but now it worked. Goes to show what window treatments and speaker wiggling can do.

Next page, their Mobile Fidelity rig. Speaks go for $2000.

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Looks like you hustled your ass off at that show, Josh -- thanks. ... As for Valve Audio, I never understand companies that make tube equipment, but hide the tubes inside a plain-Jane box. The visual has to be 25 percent of my attraction to tubes. That said, if you folks check 'em out, they make a 1,000-watt tube amp. I don't think I've ever seen that.
Seriously, tubes are meant to be seen. But the cages have to be good looking. None of these bear traps. That 1000 watt amp is a hybrid amp, meaning it's (probably) using tubes for the drive stage and then SS for the power. Moscode and Butler do this as well. The biggest pure tube amp I know of is the VTL Wotan monos -- 1250 watts.
Understood on it being a hybrid (I should have written it as such), but I did indeed fail to remember the Wotans. ... Now that VTL has a new line, I wonder if used Wotans might get down to a price average working folks (without kids) can afford -- assuming of course, the requisite level of audiophile idiocy is present to even think about such a purchase.