California Audio Show 2011

Steve Williams

Site Founder, Site Owner, Administrator
Went yesterday with fellow member Ron Party and found the show to be overall better than last year's show (its first) but still lacking in the number of overall rooms.

I took many photos and hope to post them later today as time permits but IMHO the best room at the show were

1. Music Lovers from Berkeley/San Francisco demoing in probably the largest room at the hotel.
Maxx lll's with full Spectral front end. The room was set up by Dr Keith Johnson with the speakers at least 25 feet apart. The sound was beyond incredible and as big as the room was, there was absolutely nothing lacking. I had heard Music Lovers room in Berkeley several weeks ago where the same gear was played through Sashas and it also was spectacular. Yesterday's however was IMO the biggest, and best listening at the show

2. Magico Q5 driven by Constellation Hercules monoblocks. I sat next to Alon Wolfe as he demoed the speaker and IMO it is deserving of all of the hype which preceded this speaker. Simply fantastic. As an aside the next room we were in was demoing the Q3 with the new ARC Ref250 and although very good, it got lost in the big room in which it was played and as a result it just didn't provide the same emotional impact for me as the Q5

3. MBL What can one say, every MBL speaker they played was simply mesmerizing with such a holographic soundstage. Of course all MBL amps and front end were used

4. My good friend Jonathan Tinn was in a very small room and appropriately chose to demo his Evolution MicroMini One with Dart amp and his new Playback DesignsMP-S3 which allowed him to play Hi Rez files to 384 Khz. I was simply stunned as to how good these little book shelf monitors sounded. And here's the amazing part of the story. These tiny speakers had an MSRP of $2,000. I asked Jonathan if it were a typo on the page and he really meant $20K (inasmuch as I also heard Alon's new Q1 which although very good was not IMHO as good as the Evolution MicroMini One and had an MSRP of $22,000 (it might have been $24K). Unfortunately no demo of his new Wave Kinetics NVS TT

5. Honorable mention and a real sleeper at the show was Jim Salk's Soundscape speakers which were not only beautiful to behold but also had probably the best bass I heard at the show. These speakers had an MSRP IIRC of $13,000

6. For those who want to get into R2R but haven't been able to find a machine yet, my good friend Phillip O'Hanlon from On A Higher Note was demoing the new Sonorus ATR10 Analog Tape Reproducer, a $10K player ONLY which is built on a Studer/Revox platform and (get this) has a wireless remote control as well as a tube output stage. It sounded fantastic and with 21st Century electronics there is no need to use an outboard head amp

I forgot to also post #7 and that was Dan D'Agostino's room (where Dan was there in person) where he showcased his new amp played through a pair of Wilson Sasha's. The rom was tiny but the sound was terrific. I know the review on Dan's prototype of the amp was met with some scrutiny but honestly the sound was also in the top 5-6 I heard yesterday. Dan was a true gentleman. I sat an talked with him for a while as I reminisced with him about all of the Krell gear I owned over the years
 

MylesBAstor

Well-Known Member
Apr 20, 2010
11,219
11
585
New York City
Went yesterday with fellow member Ron Party and found the show to be overall better than last year's show (its first) but still lacking in the number of overall rooms.

I took many photos and hope to post them later today as time permits but IMHO the best room at the show were

1. Music Lovers from Berkeley/San Francisco demoing in probably the largest room at the hotel.
Maxx lll's with full Spectral front end. The room was set up by Dr Keith Johnson with the speakers at least 25 feet apart. The sound was beyond incredible and as big as the room was, there was absolutely nothing lacking. I had heard Music Lovers room in Berkeley several weeks ago where the same gear was played through Sashas and it also was spectacular. Yesterday's however was IMO the biggest, and best listening at the show

2. Magico Q5 driven by Constellation Hercules monoblocks. I sat next to Alon Wolfe as he demoed the speaker and IMO it is deserving of all of the hype which preceded this speaker. Simply fantastic. As an aside the next room we were in was demoing the Q3 with the new ARC Ref250 and although very good, it got lost in the big room in which it was played and as a result it just didn't provide the same emotional impact for me as the Q5

3. MBL What can one say, every MBL speaker they played was simply mesmerizing with such a holographic soundstage. Of course all MBL amps and front end were used

4. My good friend Jonathan Tinn was in a very small room and appropriately chose to demo his Evolution MicroMini One with Dart amp and his new Playback DesignsMP-S3 which allowed him to play Hi Rez files to 384 Khz. I was simply stunned as to how good these little book shelf monitors sounded. And here's the amazing part of the story. These tiny speakers had an MSRP of $2,000. I asked Jonathan if it were a typo on the page and he really meant $20K (inasmuch as I also heard Alon's new Q1 which although very good was not IMHO as good as the Evolution MicroMini One and had an MSRP of $22,000 (it might have been $24K). Unfortunately no demo of his new Wave Kinetics NVS TT

5. Honorable mention and a real sleeper at the show was Jim Salk's Soundscape speakers which were not only beautiful to behold but also had probably the best bass I heard at the show. These speakers had an MSRP IIRC of $13,000

6. For those who want to get into R2R but haven't been able to find a machine yet, my good friend Phillip O'Hanlon from On A Higher Note was demoing the new Sonorus ATR10 Analog Tape Reproducer, a $10K player ONLY which is built on a Studer/Revox platform and (get this) has a wireless remote control as well as a tube output stage. It sounded fantastic and with 21st Century electronics there is no need to use an outboard head amp

Hey Steve,

Sounds like quality over quantity ;)

How big was the Music Lover's room to space the speakers 25 ft. apart?

I agree with the baby Evolution Acoustics speakers. A lot of bang for the buck! One to be auditioned if shopping in that, as well as maybe more expensive price ranges.
 

Steve Williams

Site Founder, Site Owner, Administrator
I am guessing but I would say the room was 60 x 30 easily. The room was dead on. I spoke to Jae (the owner of Music Lovers) re the room set up which was tweaked by Dr Keith Johnson. In fact Jae had brought with a Wilson Thor's Hammer (which looked like half of my old Wilson XS) which he planned to use in the room however the room sounded better without it than with it
 

Steve Williams

Site Founder, Site Owner, Administrator
BTW, almost every room had a TT and was playing vinyl. Many rooms also had R2R and one very special room was that of Bob Hodas Consulting where he was running a 1/2" tape playing a compilation of Tape Project cuts including some from upcoming Season 3. The Nat King Cole was fabulous
 

ack

VIP/Donor & WBF Founding Member
May 6, 2010
6,394
846
610
Boston, MA
Thanks Steve for the report.
 

Steve Williams

Site Founder, Site Owner, Administrator
I forgot to also post #7 and that was Dan D'Agostino's room (where Dan was there in person) where he showcased his new amp played through a pair of Wilson Sasha's. The rom was tiny but the sound was terrific. I know the review on Dan's prototype of the amp was met with some scrutiny but honestly the sound was also in the top 5-6 I heard yesterday. Dan was a true gentleman. I sat an talked with him for a while as I reminisced with him about all of the Krell gear I owned over the years

The amp BTW up close and personal is real eye candy
 

Steve Williams

Site Founder, Site Owner, Administrator
I also forgot to mention that fellow member of our Expert Panel, Art Noxon was not only there but gave several seminars on room modifications. It was a delight to chat him up.
 

MylesBAstor

Well-Known Member
Apr 20, 2010
11,219
11
585
New York City
BTW, almost every room had a TT and was playing vinyl. Many rooms also had R2R and one very special room was that of Bob Hodas Consulting where he was running a 1/2" tape playing a compilation of Tape Project cuts including some from upcoming Season 3. The Nat King Cole was fabulous

Did they play the Nat Adderly and Oliver Nelson cuts from Series 3? Those were spectacular at CES!
 

Steve Williams

Site Founder, Site Owner, Administrator
Bob's room (as most) was very small and therefore very crowded so only heard the NKK from Series 3.

BTW Dan (DocB) was very busy and forever wandering the halls but had a good talk with him
 

Steve Williams

Site Founder, Site Owner, Administrator
Other highlights of the show (for me at least) worth auditioning were

DaVinci 384K DAC "but" it is only a redbook dac so the MSRP of this DAC at $15K was felt to be way high inasmuch as it wasn't a DSD DAC as well (such as the Playback Designs)

Amarra and Amarra Vinyl

Devialet D Premier integrated amp

and the

Acapella High Violoncello ll Speakers at $80,000. Sitting in the sweet spot showed these speakers to be perfectly dialed in and as realistic as anything I heard yesterday
 

c1ferrari

Member Sponsor & WBF Founding Member
May 15, 2010
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485
Hi, Steve!

Thanks for your comments...look forward to the images :p
 

KeithR

VIP/Donor
May 7, 2010
4,355
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628
Marina del Rey, CA
Thanks Steve. Wish the Q5s were more efficient- sounds like mega solid state only applies as they were showing with constellation. Just read the 83db comment in Valins rave review. ouch!

Salk gets a lot of underground raves.
 

c1ferrari

Member Sponsor & WBF Founding Member
May 15, 2010
2,116
34
485
Acknowledged...

Thanks for your comments...look forward to the images :p

We're off to the San Diego Zoo and Sushi Ota, afterwards :D
Back to the salt mines, tomorrow, following a few weeks break.
BBQ sounds FUN :p
 

Steve Williams

Site Founder, Site Owner, Administrator
Keith

the Q5 was killer. I have never heard that amp before. Butt ugly. Big and tall and looked like a pair of air conditioners. The amp has MSRP north of $70K

The Salk was eye candy. The finish was a sight to behold and as I said, it had the best bass at the show
 

mauidan

Member Sponsor
Aug 2, 2010
1,513
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36
Pukalani, HI
Keith

the Q5 was killer. I have never heard that amp before. Butt ugly. Big and tall and looked like a pair of air conditioners. The amp has MSRP north of $70K

The Salk was eye candy. The finish was a sight to behold and as I said, it had the best bass at the show

The Salk SoundScape:

SalkAVA2..jpg
 

Steve Williams

Site Founder, Site Owner, Administrator
70k each mono block actually!

Interesting Keith cuz at the show Alon told me it was over $100K and when I looked it up I saw $70 and thought that was for the pair
 

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