A Visit to AudioArts - NYC to hear CH Precision - FM Acoustics - Zellaton

rsorren1

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Sep 6, 2013
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Dallas area
About two weeks ago I had to be in NYC for a few days for business. I realized that I had time at night so I thought I might arrange a visit to an audio store I've been wanting to visit and hear CH Precision gear. I dropped Gideon Schwartz an email and asked if I could arrange a visit to AudioArts at night after work. I explained that I've always wanted to listen to the CH Precision gear and I pointed him to my WBF page describing my system in the Wilson Forum. Gideon responded and said he would gladly have me for a listening session. He pointed me to an article that had just appeared in the Absolute Sound profiling AudioArts. We both had some background on each other.

Before I try to explain what I experienced that night, let me start by saying thank you to Gideon. The AudioArts showroom is absolutely beautiful and he was the perfect host. I was there alone and we spent nearly four hours together listening to music and discussing music and high-end audio. Wonderful night.

As I said I was eager to hear CH Precision. I had read the review in Absolute Sound awhile ago. Gideon had the CH Precision D1 transport, C1 DAC, FM Acoustics 255R pre-amp, and FM Acoustics 711 amp playing through Zellaton Stage speakers. He also had a Sperling turntable connected to the system playing through an FM Acoustics phono pre-amp. Gideon said we were going to listen to a variety of sources: turntable, SACD/CD discs in D1, network streamed and USB audio through the ethernet and USB boards respectively in the C1.

I'll start with my impressions of the analog turntable chain. We listened to a number of tracks that night but two really were memorable. We listened to a cut from the Coltrane - Johnny Hartman album. The three dimensional characteristic of the sound, placement of voice and instruments was some of the best I've heard. Smooth as silk at the top end and good bass. The dynamic contrasts were some of the best I've heard. We also listened to a recording of a Japanese pianist (I think, can't remember her name) playing Beethoven's "Appassionata" piano Sonata. The dynamics of the piano were the best I've ever heard. The piano was beautiful sounding. I've long heard of FM Acoustics but this was the first time I've ever heard their equipment. Outstanding.

As we shifted to digital source and the CH Precision front-end D1/C1 we started by inserting an SACD in the D1. Gideon is a big fan of SACD and so am I. I probably own 150+. The detail, space, relaxed nature of the sound made an instant impression on me. The highlight of the night for me came when we played Beatles, White Album, "Julia", stereo remaster, streamed from the network. I've listened to this track hundreds of times through the years. It's stunning in beauty and simplicity, a song about John's Mom. Never, repeat never, have I heard the message of this song and its passion so clearly. John holds the "s" at the end of the lyric "half of what I say is meaningless". It sounds as a whisper into the mic as the "s" decays. No sibilance at all! The guitar placed perfectly in space and the tone! Fool you "real" moment from a "redbook" CD off the network. The Absolute Sound review of CH Precision called out the excellent performance of the ethernet streaming card and based on what I heard I concur. I also tried a few Tidal streams through USB fed from a MacBook Pro. I selected Tom Petty and Heartbreakers remake of "Green Onions" from the Live Anthology album. The "bite" of the organ and the tonal accuracy of Mike Campbell's electric guitar over Tidal caught my attention. Great stuff! Eva Cassidy singing "At Last" was just gorgeous as was Linda Ronstadt's "Dedicated to the One I Love". The three methods of playback in the digital chain seemed to be more related to the quality of the recordings rather than one source outperforming another. That's how good the CH Precision C1 seems to be. Would love to hear a D1/C1 in my system some day.

CH Precision, FM Acoustics, Zellaton, were all firsts for me. I now better understand what speed means in audio. To me this speed characteristic comes across in the music as big dynamics and that cutting first edge of music. These products also project a very three dimensional image, something I like quite a bit. This was the first experience with CH Precision, FM Acoustics, and Zellaton. I likely will not forget this experience anytime soon. That good.
 

ack

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May 6, 2010
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Thanks. I hold FM Acoustics and CH Precision in very high regard.
 

amirm

Banned
Apr 3, 2010
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Thanks so much for the write up. I very much enjoy reading these reports although truth to be told, I zoom right in and try to buy the music that was used for the audition :). In that case, had not heard the Tom Petty and Heartbreaker's Green Onion. Went looking for it and Google suggested this other variation by Daryl Hall & Booker T. Jones:


Both very enjoyable.
 

tunes

Member Sponsor
Nov 10, 2013
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Having had the chance to visit AudioArts in Oct 2014, i can concur that it is a special experience to listen to some spectacular gear. I am unfamiliar with fm acoustics, though i did read the piece online about Gideon distributing their gear in NA. http://www.theabsolutesound.com/articles/new-yorks-audioarts-and-the-return-of-fm-acoustics/
Looking forward to getting to NYC in 2016 to have a listen. Thanks for sharing the music you listened to. Like Amir, i often find new music this way.
 

taters

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Jun 7, 2012
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I remember when Audio Limits was the exclusive FM acoustics dealer for the United States. I wonder how Audio Arts wound up with the line.
 

jfrech

VIP/Donor
Sep 3, 2012
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Austin
Hi Ralph, thanks for posting. Was Gideon still using a Jan Allaerts phono cartridge?

I've heard his system before...and came away with similar thoughts as you on speed and demensionality. I thought the CH Precision as a digital source was outstanding also.

Let me know if you get to Austin soon, I've made some significant changes to my set up since you were last here...
 
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rsorren1

Well-Known Member
Sep 6, 2013
313
54
258
Dallas area
Thanks so much for the write up. I very much enjoy reading these reports although truth to be told, I zoom right in and try to buy the music that was used for the audition :). In that case, had not heard the Tom Petty and Heartbreaker's Green Onion. Went looking for it and Google suggested this other variation by Daryl Hall & Booker T. Jones:


Both very enjoyable.

Amir, thanks for the reply pointing out this video. It comes from a special that Daryl Hall was doing called "Live at Daryl's House". Search on YouTube and enjoy. Many outstanding performances like this one. Professional musicians in the house! Booker T sounds great!
Ralph
 

rsorren1

Well-Known Member
Sep 6, 2013
313
54
258
Dallas area
Hi Rick, thanks for posting. Was Gideon still using a Jan Allaerts phono cartridge?

I've heard his system before...and came away with similar thoughts as you on speed and demensionality. I thought the CH Precision as a digital source was outstanding also.

Let me know if you get to Austin soon, I've made some significant changes to my set up since you were last here...

John, good to hear from you and hope you are well. I can see from your signature that you have made some significant changes to your system. I'll let you know the next time I'm in Austin. I would love to stop by.

The cartridge that Gideon was using the night I listened to the Sperling turntable was a Fuuga-Miyabi. It is the first time I've ever heard it but certainly sounded open, dynamic, smooth.
Ralph
 

amirm

Banned
Apr 3, 2010
15,814
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0
Seattle, WA
Amir, thanks for the reply pointing out this video. It comes from a special that Daryl Hall was doing called "Live at Daryl's House". Search on YouTube and enjoy. Many outstanding performances like this one. Professional musicians in the house! Booker T sounds great!
Ralph
Thanks Ralph. will definitely seek it out. Wonder if there is a DVD or CD of it.
 

JackD201

WBF Founding Member
Apr 21, 2010
11,734
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Manila, Philippines
Been living with the D1/C1/X1 for a few months now. I'm a happy camper for sure.
 

kinch

Well-Known Member
Jan 7, 2014
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206
Thanks for your report about CH and FMA, as the recent news of resurgent FMA in NA and JV conferring best in class to the M1 have piqued my interest too. I have been living with the C1/X1 for a few months as well. Your observation of "...what speed means in audio" rang true and was the actionable point in my decision. I've long bought into the notion that accurate audio needs transient control, much in the way Florian Cossy suggested back in the day (http://www.soundstage.com/revequip/orpheus_threes.htm). What CH brought to the table was speed from silence, with timbral truthiness. Mid envelope information really fleshed out with addition of the X1 but never outdid the source instrument. A good example would be Arvo Part's Cantus for Benjamin Britten which opens with a bell whose chime information guides the piece. It could be easily muddied or bled into the cantus. C1/X1 does it with speed and mountain stream lucidity. Note that I haven't yet bought a CH pre amp as my evaluation process continues. How FMA differs in musical rendering would be very interesting.
 

marty

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Apr 20, 2010
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United States
3 comments

1) Amazing that Booker T is still around. His original with the MGs was in 1961. Great You Tube version of that band doing the original on Shindig in 1966, just in case you want to feel old.

2) "Green Onions" by Booker T and the MGs was one of two main motivators for me to learn to play the organ. The other was J Power Biggs playing Toccata and Fugue in D minor by Bach!

3) Daryl Hall is an absolutely flat out superb musician. His TV series "Daryl's House" as already mentioned, shows him jamming with anybody and everybody he invites to his home in Woodstock, NY where the show is produced from his garage studio. The range of styles that he plays with real brilliance is very impressive.

As far as Audio Arts, I've tried to visit several times. They never answer their phone or return messages. I stopped trying.
 

taters

New Member
Jun 7, 2012
301
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3 comments

1) Amazing that Booker T is still around. His original with the MGs was in 1961. Great You Tube version of that band doing the original on Shindig in 1966, just in case you want to feel old.

2) "Green Onions" by Booker T and the MGs was one of two main motivators for me to learn to play the organ. The other was J Power Biggs playing Toccata and Fugue in D minor by Bach!

3) Daryl Hall is an absolutely flat out superb musician. His TV series "Daryl's House" as already mentioned, shows him jamming with anybody and everybody he invites to his home in Woodstock, NY where the show is produced from his garage studio. The range of styles that he plays with real brilliance is very impressive.

As far as Audio Arts, I've tried to visit several times. They never answer their phone or return messages. I stopped trying.


I never understand businesses that don't return messages. Don't they realize that is their life's blood.
 

tunes

Member Sponsor
Nov 10, 2013
187
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246
Jfrech,
See from your sig that you're a allaerts mc2 finish user like me:)
Gideon used to have one setup on a Simon Yorke S10 that i heard with audio consulting phono, nagra vpa amps and stenheim alumine 3 speakers. It was in the smaller of the two listening rooms at Audio Arts. I love the Allaerts. Wish Jan made a mono cart as well!

Marty, if you're interested in these lines, i'd highly recommend you try contacting AudioArts again. I've made several purchases through them over the past few years and have never had an unreturned email or call, even when i've been looking for system advice unconnected to a sale. The listening showroom is by appointment so best to book a time with Gideon in advance. As mentioned in my earlier post, I've only been able to get to NYC once over the past 4 years and spent the afternoon at AudioArts. Like Ralph, John, and others, i agree that it is a truly gorgeous listening studio with top drawer gear.
 

kinch

Well-Known Member
Jan 7, 2014
25
0
206
I agree: it's a listening studio not to be missed. It is large and silent but lively. Anyone auditioning at this level needs to hear equipment at 90db in this kind of space. Both of my visits were arranged via email, not telephone, and communication was excellent.
The speed of those zellatons will haunt you for a while. As the auditory working memory fades, a mythical "could it really have been that fast and that clean?" sets in. Crazy hobby this,
 

rsorren1

Well-Known Member
Sep 6, 2013
313
54
258
Dallas area
3 comments

1) Amazing that Booker T is still around. His original with the MGs was in 1961. Great You Tube version of that band doing the original on Shindig in 1966, just in case you want to feel old.

2) "Green Onions" by Booker T and the MGs was one of two main motivators for me to learn to play the organ. The other was J Power Biggs playing Toccata and Fugue in D minor by Bach!

3) Daryl Hall is an absolutely flat out superb musician. His TV series "Daryl's House" as already mentioned, shows him jamming with anybody and everybody he invites to his home in Woodstock, NY where the show is produced from his garage studio. The range of styles that he plays with real brilliance is very impressive.

As far as Audio Arts, I've tried to visit several times. They never answer their phone or return messages. I stopped trying.
Marty, thanks for the reply. Daryl Hall is amazing as are the musicians that play with him in the series. The ability to play such a variety of styles is real brilliance as you point out.

As far as contacting AudioArts, I sent Gideon an email from his website under "contact us". You might try that route if you are still interested.
Ralph
 

jfrech

VIP/Donor
Sep 3, 2012
1,682
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295
Austin
Jfrech,
See from your sig that you're a allaerts mc2 finish user like me:)
Gideon used to have one setup on a Simon Yorke S10 that i heard with audio consulting phono, nagra vpa amps and stenheim alumine 3 speakers. It was in the smaller of the two listening rooms at Audio Arts. I love the Allaerts. Wish Jan made a mono cart as well!

Marty, if you're interested in these lines, i'd highly recommend you try contacting AudioArts again. I've made several purchases through them over the past few years and have never had an unreturned email or call, even when i've been looking for system advice unconnected to a sale. The listening showroom is by appointment so best to book a time with Gideon in advance. As mentioned in my earlier post, I've only been able to get to NYC once over the past 4 years and spent the afternoon at AudioArts. Like Ralph, John, and others, i agree that it is a truly gorgeous listening studio with top drawer gear.

I am...just sent you a PM
 

John C

New Member
Dec 18, 2015
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1
I am new to this forum. I was fortunate enough to have a pair of pre-owned Zellaton Concerts fall into my lap. I'd like to say that I did my research and zeroed in on them but, frankly, they found me! And am I ever glad they did! I was a life long Vandersteen guy and thought my system sounded great. Since purchasing the Zellatons my whole listening experience has changed. I truly can't get over the depth, dimension and size of the soundstage my system now produces. Before my Concerts I was listening to music- now I am immersed in in my music- involved in my music in a way I never have been before.

Shortly after I purchased my speakers Gideon actually reached out to me to congratulate me on my purchase via email. He included his phone number in the email so I gave him a call. Gideon's passion for the products he represents was evident during our conversation. I have not had the opportunity to visit Audio Arts yet and meet Gideon in person, but I am looking forward to making the trip soon. If the other products he represents are as good as the Zellaton line (and I'm sure they are!) I am worried I am going to change my thinking again about what is possible in our hobby.

Cheers!
 

tunes

Member Sponsor
Nov 10, 2013
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Ralph,
From your OP you mentioned that there was FM acoustics pre and power but did you have a chance to hear the CH power amps (A1 or M1)?
If so, curious how they compared to the FMA and your impressions.
Chris
 

rsorren1

Well-Known Member
Sep 6, 2013
313
54
258
Dallas area
Ralph,
From your OP you mentioned that there was FM acoustics pre and power but did you have a chance to hear the CH power amps (A1 or M1)?
If so, curious how they compared to the FMA and your impressions.
Chris

Chris, just last week I was in NYC again and I called Gideon to see if I could stop by and hear an all CH Precision system. I was able to stop by AudioArts one evening and heard a C1 DAC/pre-amp and an M1 power amp with the same speakers as before, Zellaton Stage. We listened to many of the same tracks that I heard the first time, all streamed to the C1 via the network ethernet so I am able to provide my impressions of FM Acoustics vs an all CH Precision system. Let me start by saying one could not go wrong either way! I did not feel that any of the magic that I heard the first time was missing. Many of the characteristics that I heard the first time- accurate tone, spacious presentation, excellent bass, smooth treble were all present again. The M1 is a beast. It possesses almost limitless dynamics. This was evident on a solo drum recording that we heard that was the most real life reproduction of drums I've heard on any system. Piano sounded real, lush, beautiful, on the tracks that were jazz trios and classical. In the end, I felt that the sum of the CH Precision parts in the system the second night provided a very similar experience to the FM Acoustics / CH Precision digital front-end that I heard the first night.
Ralph
 

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