A Sunday with Alma Audio
Sunday. Sunday. Fabio Storelli, proprietor of Alma Audio in La Jolla, California, hosted a terrific audio event full of the usual gizmos and gadgets audiophiles come to expect. The faithful gathered July 19 and 20, 2015 for an audio extravaganza. More of a “society” event - that is, audio society - notable luminaries like Yoav Geva and Dick Diamond (YG Acoustics), Dan D’Agostino (D’agostina Masters Audio Systems) and Joe Kubala (Kubala-Sosna cables) were in attendance as well. Smart. So what exactly does one get from such an event? Naturally, a full belly for one, as delicious cuisina-Mexicana was on tap; alas, everyone of course was there to see, hear and mingle with the latest and greatest.
Tired of checking in with your local audio show? No problem. Set your sights to your favorite audio salon’s iCal and follow the tune. Seems like these types of events are popping up everywhere. As Ted Turner famously said, “Only more is more”. Fair enough. While I delight in the sights of Yoav, Dan and Joe, I often ponder the effect on the general audio populus. Surely, Shirley, said populus must agree with such sentiment. IDK. Maybe? I think it depends on the audience. The converted seem to know the message already. Hi-Fi is what it is. How does one reach the audience at ground zero? Maybe that’s too lofty a goal. Maybe it is in fact the focus on the lowest hanging fruit that will bear the most rewards. IDK. What I do know is that those already reached have a distinctly different need that needs to be met. It follows then that one should have a different curriculum for those yet uninitiated. Therein lies the rub, how do you do that?
Food for further thought. Not like that conversation has never taken place. Alma Audio makes a good start: from entry level to highest end, you can shop for records and buy a new ’table or accessory. All set in a homely surrounding to boot. Headphones I heard are next. That’s clever and in line with the latest trends. The rest? Perhaps an invitation to those not yet initiated is in order. Keep the tacos, add the educational component. You hear this, because of that. If your average La Jollian looks to Bose as high-end, there’s not a glimmer of hope we can connect them to $78k YG Sonja 1.2s. However, if we educate them and reach them at ground zero… food for thought. As once famously said: “if you can explain the why, the how will follow”. I agreed then, I agree now. Enjoy the pics! See you all soon.
Newport 2011: WadaxAnd now for something truly special: Rick Brown, importer and distributor éspecial of super premium Hi-Fi gear is now the official distributor for Wadax from Spain.
Newport 2011: Ayon + Lumen White
The Ayon demo with Lumen White speakers was incredibly fast, precise and just begging for a bigger room to really let loose. Check out the pic next page for the speaker's incredible finish...
Newport 2011: MBL
MBL of omni-directional loudspeaker fame debuted their new "120" monitors ($21k+) with all MBL electronics. Didn't have a chance to drop in my demo CD, but MBL is always an amazing listening experience regardless of music. The paint finish and craftsmanship seem to be improved, with a new white high gloss option for their speakers and amps (pic next page).
Vegas 08: Acoustic Plan Super System
Award time. The Acoustic Plan system, featuring Acoustic Plan's Veena speakers ($28k), Sarod preamp ($13000), Santor power amp ($11000) and Vadi CD player ($TBA) was one of the most impressive and talked about demos at the show. Shooting the breeze with one big name reviewer, I was told I had to check out that "open baffle thing with lowther drivers." I'm glad I followed his advice. Alas, great sound comes with a steep price tag.
The sound style falls into the Emotional category, leaning towards the Smooth group. The sound from the Lowther drivers and hybrid amps was warm and friendly with the signature non-fatiguing dynamics the Emotional and Smooth fans love.
The entire presentation was seamless from top to bottom and not at all what one would expect from a Lowther-based system of this kind. While there were plenty of the traits that single driver fans desire, serious work has gone into taming the white cone's issues and handling music in all genres. The sound was fast and detailed and offered that signature musical midrange. The tube hybrid amplification and mechanical qualities of the drivers did a fine job of compensating for the nastiness in some of my torture tracks without sacrificing clarity and detail.
Naturally, the entire system -- from Acoustic Plan Veena speakers to CD players and amps -- works together harmoniously. Component synergy exists and the Acoustic Plan system will have people rethinking a life component-swapping madness.
The slim Veena speakers are open baffles featuring 6" Lowther drivers, the hallmark of emotional systems, combined with four 10" powered woofers (a passive version is also available). The active system runs at 96dB while the passive version drops to 88dB, both with an 8 ohm impedance. The bass can be adjusted, though it's not as customizable as a full-blown sub (and nowhere near a DSP system). No frequency specs are listed, but the dipole-radiating subs reach low enough to be highly satisfying. The bass was also of a smooth, fast quality unique to dipole systems. A smaller speaker called the "Avarta" is also available and features double 10" woofers and the same 6" Lowther.
The Santor amp is a hybrid system with 50 MOS-FET watts and tubes in the signal path. The preamp and CD player are both tube-based and feature some of the classiest chassis construction around.
Big pics next page...
RMAF 07: Sonicweld $99k Super System
Paging Kanye West: Your new speakers are here. At $99k, the Sonicweld system has enough polished aluminum to out-bling Bugatti. And with active x-over, room correction and amazing sound, the Sonicweld system was the best Precise-type room at the show.
Being the nosey guy I am, I asked everyone I ran into what their favorite room was. Sonicweld came up a number of times usually accompanied with arm waving and copious gushing. Taste is subjective, of course, but the Sonicweld's Precise-type sound was simply seductive. The speed of the 2" midrange array was incredibly fast with class-leading definition between notes. The sound wasn't too cool or sharp or etched, just perfectly flat and amazingly revealing. Those who like their sound colored, look elsewhere. But for those with a love of absolute accuracy (and have a recording contract at Aftermath), put Sonicweld at the top of your list.
Sonicweld is located in Utah (along with 50% of the other high-end speaker manufacturers) and sells direct with in-home installation and optimization. $99k is steep, but the man behind Sonicweld Josh Heiner revealed there's a new system in the works. Once he's finished milling his current backorder of super systems, he's going to get down to a sub $10k system for the rest of us.
The speakers are 4-ways with a silk dome tweeter, six 2" titanium midrange drivers and six 4" aluminum woofers. Double outboard 12" subs are in separate enclosures. Unusual for Precise-type speakers, the titanium drivers run wide-range while the six woofers are bipoles firing forward and backward. All drivers feature individual ICEpower amplification controlled by a DEQX digital crossover and room correction unit. And that's just the beginning, check out their website for all the tech that goes into these amazing speakers.