Our Traditional Report on Jonanthan Valin's RMAF 2001 Report

His report is over at: JV’s RMAF 2011 Report.

I hadn’t gone over to check out his report until now – thinking that this high-end show that was not really high-end might not have enough interesting rooms for him to review, and his report would be as short as mine. But lo and behold, speakers above $20K is actually a broad enough category to include quite a few rooms.

JV’s report this year seemed very polite to me, saying nice things about rooms with sound that had serious problems, always finding some nice things to say about SOMETHING or another, just like the Stereophile reports.

In fact, JV’s reporting seem quite uneven this year. For one, he relies too much on the idea that he does not like gem├╝tlich, by which he seems to mean warm sounding systems by virtue of the fact that they are not ‘real’ enough for his taste. We can take him at his word, but all too often if he does not like a system’s performance in some area, any area, he blames it on being too ‘as you like it’, another phrase he assigns to systems that are not ‘cold as ice’ [my words :-)]. In my opinion, these systems have flaws because they have no separation and blur notes together, or because the harmonic color has been removed, or the tonality is all wrong, or because the imaging is non-existent or too precise…, not because they are too polite or beatific or wonderful sounding.


JV is a reviewer so he got special treatment [but check out the Audiocircle reports – which we will get to later – boy oh boy they earned themselves some real enmity amongst the people who will actually pay real money for their amps]. He heard it before the show, I heard it the last hour of the show. It was certainly the best I have heard VTL sound – though still missing micro-dynamics, realistic harmonic color, continuousness, linear dynamics as things went from sssssoft to lllloud, etc. But given all this, at this show, it was my choice for best big system.

Magico Q1

JV has a way better description of what I heard than what I wrote ­čÖé [I was annoyed they did not bring the Q5]. JV still gave it a runner up position in his top rooms of the show – presumably the sound got improved.

Let’s just say that on Saturday, I believe it was, it did not sound as good as your everyday ordinary high-end audio monitor [and not as good as the old Magico Mini, which several of our customers ended up buying, some many times :-)]. I figured it was trying to be too ambitious with such a small speaker in that large a room. JV apparently thought it was upstream electronics – doesn’t really matter. We report on the sound and move on…


Skipping several rooms because I just did not find them interesting… [and too much marketing-speak for my taste, JV, eeewwwww!!!].., some confusion between Acapella and Lansche with the Lansche room review [to, no doubt, both companies chagrin. Need to throw in Avantgarde next :-)]. Sorry I missed the new MBLs.

YG Acoustics Anat Reference Professional II Signatures

[Best speaker in the world AND longest name too ;-)].

OK. JV says Tenor [he does not like Tenor] makes everything sound [too] beautiful. Well, for one, this system sound was not beautiful. Just because he found it hard to get a handle on these ANATs, he decides to blame it on being too listenable [essentially]. Well, I did not find this especially listenable.

I also had a hard time getting a handle on these speakers – in fact I never did figure them out, even knowing the Tenor sound to some degree. I blamed it on the source – the computer audio playback.

The problem for me was that the notes sounded OK by themselves, as far as I could tell, but they were so separate from each other, my brain could not string them together into music and then run pattern matching against other music on other systems I have heard before. It was just ‘single note’ followed by ‘single note’ and on and on.

Schimmel Voxativ Ampeggio

I liked this room too, although in my opinion I liked it because it was so very listenable, very Enjoyable, to the point of being even a little Druglike. This should be the opposite of what JV likes. Anyway, we both agree, I think, that we want to hear them again. Hopefully I will be able to spend more time analyzing what they do at CES.

Cessaro Affascinate I SE

I was much unhappier about the severe lack of integration here. JV said it was very coherent but the slightest bit discontinuous? Seems like we are going to disagree on this one. I know these can sound good, so they were a disappointment but I would still go see them next show.

Estelon XA Diamond

These sounded OK, and JV seemed to like them. They also seem popular with people, the look or something striking a chord. To me, though I like them there seems to be something missing, some midrange energy or dynamic structure or something – not sure what it is but I find it off-putting and do not stay all that long in this room [I get like a double personality here – I want to stay but I want to go].

Skipping… skipping … skipping the Venture Grand Ultimates room but I do not think JV and I heard the same system here. Then JV plays nicey nicey with system sounds that are so far from real that, well, let’s just call an end to this “Review of the JV Review”.

Hopefully CES will *rock* [so to speak] and we will have a lot to talk about. We plan on doing a traditional hugemongous show report and the pursuit of the Ultimate [ultimate] Music [music] Experiences [experiences]. ­čśë