When some months ago, a friend asked if I was doing the Newport show once again, it still seemed somehow far away. Then, suddenly, thunder struck and I was scrambling to pack up and head south to Newport - nay, Irvine. Setup and such was reasonably quick; this year’s room far larger and more comfortable in space and appearance. Immediate notes taken into account for next year - given the suite’s far larger proportions - lounge sofas, coffee bar, spirits bar. That would then make the whole much more of a lounge setup then traditional listening room. So shall it be. A big Thank You to Marine Presson and her entire staff for making this show so memorable and fun.
The sound coming from SonicFlare’s setup was far better than last year; grand canyon sound staging and imaging to die for all came as a result of Wilson Audio’s Sabrina mating ever quite so perfectly with EINSTEIN’s gear; The Silver Bullet OTL in particular (run off The Preamp) managed to create an incredible sounding facsimile of whatever was transcribed onto the various records we played through the equally as awesome TechDAS Air Force 3, Bob Graham’s Elite arm and TechDAS’ Titanium cartridge. Digital simply wasn’t necessary this year.
More space equals more room for fun; thus, playing various tunes from Acoustic Sounds’ upcoming releases as well as hearing the latest from Ying Tan’s Groove Note label (Vanessa Fernandez - When The Levee Breaks), IMPEX and Intervention Records presented by none other than the fine teams behind each of those releases, produced the expected Uhhh’s and Ahhh’s from the fortunate in attendance. Hearing from Robert Pincus, aka, Mr. Record, just what went into the latest classical release, Jacob Lateiner’s Beethoven/Haydn/Rozsa/Heifetz-Piatigorsky Concerts, is something you simply don’t often hear, or hear all too often. Magic. Equally interesting was hearing about the Brubeck/Bennett concert (discussed by IMPEX’ Robert Sliger) performed live for then President Kennedy (who no doubt wouldn’t recognize today’s hardcore leftist-statist Politburo members), with live sound that truly captured that evening’s performance ever so perfectly. Intervention Record’s Shane Buettner’s playing of oh-so cherished lacquers was an instant hit. Hearing the dramatic difference of an upcoming Erasure release where the original had no bass below 40hz (cut off on the cutting side of the original early 90s release) and IRs remastered version was eye and ear opening: Wilson’s Sabrinas driven by EINSTEIN’s OTL amps produced punch, dynamic slam and authority that was simply not to be believed.
Elsewhere at the show I heard quite a few other nice rooms; Dan Meinwald’s EAR / Marten setup; Sean Casey’s Zu Audio room, now an institutional obligation for a fabulous visit and music session; Jonathan Tinn’s Evolution Acoustics / darTZeel; YGs big and small rooms, manned by Bill Parish/Dick Diamond/Joe Kubala and Kerry St. James respectively; Technics (yes, Technics) made nice music with their new SL-1200GM; of course, the big Wilson system fronted by the all new Alexx / VTL / dCS sounded rather lifelike and real; frankly, in many respects, the show was a show like many others. Some folks managed to get great sounding rooms; others did not. The lunch scene could have used a few more food trucks - lines where long and there was hardly a place to eat and enjoy your food (in the shade). Overall, Marine did an outstanding job managing the show without Richard’s guiding hand. As rumors abound for 2017, let’s see what / if they will pull together for next year.
Enjoy the pics!