VTV New Jersey landed over the weekend, bringing with it more tube craziness than you can shake a stick at. VTV stands for Vacuum Tube Valley, a mythical land where tubes can be plucked from trees. Not only that, but VTV is a project about tube love and brings together some of the most interesting minds in the tube world. If you're not familiar with audio's recent history, you wouldn't know tubes have launched a stunning comeback in the last few years, becoming almost as ubiquitous as transistor-based amplification in the high-performance audio world (lord knows a tube has never passed through the pearly gates of Best Buy).
Also, check out MSNBC's local audio-head Gary Krakow's coverage of VTV. It's a nice intro piece to tubes for those who aren't as addicted to this hobby as the rest of us. Gary is a DeVore man, in case you were wondering...
Below is something of an oddity in this crazy industry. We all know there are certain products that you look at and go "oh, that must be expensive!" And others that, well, "have great personalities." Beyond that, one expects a certain increase in the "wow factor" when the price skyrockets.
Audio Note, however, is a company built around subtle upgrades. Where some companies give you one or two tweaks, Audio Note gives you dozens. And not dozens of cheap upgrades, but ones so wildly expensive it's hard to fathom just who would purchase such things. And yet, Audio Note is one of those beloved companies with hundreds of cudgel-weilding fans. They get high marks for their sound and people love 'em (including Stereophile in the most recent issue).
Witness: First picture below, the AN-E speakers (model LX) go for $12,200 a pair. Below that, the same model AN-E (big pic on next page), but now in "Sogon" flavor featuring upgraded magnets, crossovers, wiring and, uh, stuff. Price? $125,000.