The Stereophile home entertainment show in New York is a five floor buffet of audio and video gear for equipment geeks to gorge on. What I found most notable about this year’s iteration was the emphasis on two channel music playback – home theater multi-channel setups were relatively rare. Perhaps it was the small rooms most setups resided in, or that HT is ceded to CES and CEDIA – this is a Stereophile show after all – but the lack of plasma screens and action movies was striking...
Robert Learner HE2007 Show Report
by Robert Learner on June 11 '07
Also striking was the number of rooms with many thousands of dollars of equipment, sometimes just in cables alone, that had no room treatment to address the hard hotel walls. After the expense of traveling and renting the space, not spending a few bits for a bit of damping so all those bits you decode and amplify sound better is a bit of a head scratcher. When asked for comments, I often bit my tongue.
A final note -- one of my cameras mysteriously separated itself from my bag at the show, so I’m a bit short on photos.
Given the caveat that shows are not good places to listen to equipment and can be reminiscent of a college dorm as neighbors try to outgun each other, I’ll give some impressions.
A favorite room that was under the radar housed the Guru QM-10 loudspeaker distributed by Sjofn Hifi.
Yeah, it’s not a looker, but it sounds detailed, coherent and full-bodied at about a cubic foot of internal volume. The entertaining literature describes designer Ingvar Ohman as an underground audio legend in Sweden. Seems a deal at $1850/pr., Electronics and cables were by Sfojn brands Xindak and Supra respectively. Total system price of under $3K makes this a steal. I appreciate the value orientation of the company.
At the other end of the spectrum was the Loiminchay room. Along with the model who warmly greeted me at the door, they looked striking. Whether they sound like anything is another issue -- they were playing far to low to be heard over the chatter. Featuring ceramic drivers with the option of a diamond tweeter, they start at 28K.
Rogue Audio electronics are always great value and sometimes seem underappreciated because of this. Perhaps they’d get more audiophile cred if they charged more.
Their new Hera reference preamp ($7495) addresses this issue. In a system featuring Eggleston Nine speakers and Echo Buster room treatment, the sound had great attack and precision.
The best sound at HE2005 to my ears was the Ascendo room. The System M-S wired with Sunny Cables and Behold 768 amps had it all again -- power, musicality, transparency, and dynamics. Note that the head unit featuring the ribbon tweeter can me adjusted fore and aft to optimize time coherence for the listening position.
This isn’t the first first funky-looking speaker from Cabasse. Le Sphere sounded nice driven by Bel Canto electronics, but might look more at home in a Tim Burton movie than in yours or mine.
The small Mark and Daniel Ruby ($2600/pr. with the optional omni-directional supertweeter on top), driven by Plinius electronics as presented by Dave Kalin, aka The Audio Doctor of Jersey City, NJ. Honed of synthetic marble and featuring a house made Heil-like air motion tweeter, the sound was clean and powerful, belying their small size.
The Scaena towers were highly touted by many people . Note the Behold amps driving them -- these were popular show pieces. Unfortunately the tracks playing was so low energy and lacking in dynamics, I can’t comment on their sonics. Sitting as close as I was to array speaker like these doesn’t help either.
I’ve heard and liked the Lipinski L-707s ($4990/pr.) in a brief encounter prior to the show. Seen here with amps built-in to the stands in a 5.2 setup, the sound was relaxed and effortless. The reps were similarly unforced. This is one of the few rooms I would have liked to see them turn it up. Should have brought Full Contact with me.
Totem is very savvy at shows. They create an enveloping atmosphere in their room which encourages you to forget the chaos outside in the hallway and focus on what you see and hear. Along with several conventional box models, they were showing the top-of-the-line Tribe 3 on-wall speaker and Inner Spirit in-walls. The construction of the mid/bass driver is extremely robust. Totem’s president/designer Vince Bruzzese runs the room with consummate professionalism. My only disappointment is this is yet another Totem presentation with their larger models MIA.
These are Salagar S210 active monitors at $7500/pr. Digital amps and crossovers, and a cleanly striking design. Drivers are a 1” Scanspeak tweeter and 10” Vifa midbass. The sound in my brief audition was precise, direct and powerful in the style people associate with studio monitors. I heard a comment that these lacked musicality, but I’d need to spend some time with recordings I know well to make any judgement on this. Given that the package includes an amplifier for each driver, these may well represent good value.
Other good systems heard included the Creek/Epos/Music Hall room (belated thanks Leland for introducing me to Noiseshaper), the Gamut room featuring their electronics and the Phi 5 speaker, and the Red Wine Audio room with Omega Speakers. Lou Reed sounded great via the Verity Parisifals driven by Nagra electronics.
Finally, the Weiss Engineering room, a favorite of mine. The new Calliope monitors driven by the Jason transport, Medea DAC, and Castor amp played with texture, depth, detail, warmth and power. The voicing, or balancing of attributes, is extremely skillful. The designer Daniel Weiss was very friendly, and introduced me to the music of Hans Theesink, an Austrian bluesman who sounds totally authentic. Discovering great new music is one of the lasting benefits of these shows. I hope to have some of the aforementioned pieces in for review.