SHOW REPORT

Part 7

Floor 1

Home Entertainment Show

The Stereophile High-end Audio Show
Los Angeles, California

June 1st-4th, 2006

* Denotes a product carried by Audio Federation
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 The Dynaudio, SimMoon room
 

The first floor!

OK, pardon my excitement. It has been a long show report.

This room... they seem to be going for something like a 'big sound', which is some subset of being Impressive. I mean, they get some amount of slam and midrange detail, but...

And there just seem to be so many other issues, like timbre anomalies and dynamic irregularities with this system, that it all comes off as not really sounding all that much like the music that is on the CD. Always a nicely setup room, though, .. and so much fun to photograph :-).

More Dynaudio, SimMoon room pictures.

 

 

 

 

 Little Dynaudio monitorloudspeakers.

 

 

 

 The wall at the back of the room.

 

 

 

 

 Another system. We did not get to hear this one.

 

 

 

 

Racks and racks of Simaudio Moon equipment.

 

 

 

 

 More moon equipment.

 

 

 

 

 Dynaudio monitor loudspeakers.

 

 

 

 

 Moon components.

 

 

 

 

 The stereo amplifier driving the big Dynaudio loudspeakers.

 

 

 

 

 Close=up of the Dynaudio loudspeaker.

 

 

 

 

 Dynaudio in-wall loudspeakers.

 

 

 

 

 Moon CD player.

 

 

The Totem, Arcam, Plinius room
 

 OK, pardon me, but this is just weird. All these animal hides, on the walls, chairs... It not only smells funny, it not only creates a weird sonic environment, as well as not allowing the room to 'breathe' well, trapping the humidity and other emanations from its human visitors inside the room, it is just, well, a little strange for this vegetarian to be in this room.

I thought the sound of the small system, photograph below, was pretty interesting for the I think $700 asking price for the loudspeakers. I could see why people would like those speakers for smaller rooms and budgets. There was some amount of bass that was certainly Impressive for the size, and it was Enjoyable and even potentially Emotional.

It wasn't an in-your-face-look-at-me-render-lots-of-details-badly type of presentation, nor was it a closed-in ham-strung-dynamics presentation [though it does gravitate toward this direction] which occupies the other throne from which the mid-fi world of dealerships draws its speakers and offers them to the masses.

More Totem, Arcam, Plinius room pictures

 

 

 

 

 A Totem of Totem loudspeakers.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 ARCAM DVD player.

 

 

 

 

 Pioneer Elite receiver and ARCAM receiver

 

 

 

 

 On-wall Totem loudspeaker.

 

 

 

 

 On-wall Totem loudspeaker.

 

 

 

 

 The Totem loudspeakers we listened to.

 

 

 

 The Totem loudspeakers we listened to.

 

 

 

 

 The system we listened to.

 

 

 

 

 The system we listened to. Plinius and Muse CD players.

 

 

 

 

 Rear of the Totem loudspeaker.

 

 

 

 

 The system we listened to.

 

 

 

 

 More Totem loduspeakers.

 

 

 

 The MBL room
 

 These rooms, and these loudspeakers, are designed to be Impressive. Very big sound. Overly emphasized bass. Always in a dark, dark room. Always very, very loud.

A lack of detail [don't just look at those cool tweeters and think it must have gobs of detail - listen for the beginning and end of the notes, not to mention details within the note envelope. Are they there?], and no micro-dynamics to speak of, makes this not very Emotional, and definitely not Real. It can be Enjoyable if one is able to overlook the anomalies mentioned. For some reason, the bass was noticeably detached from the rest of the frequencies in this room. I mean, there is always some discontinuity with multi-driver speaker systems, but this was so stark that is was quite strange.

But still, usually a crowd pleaser for those who are going for an Impressive system that can handle somewhat complex music and which does not use offensive behavior to spotlight the midrange in order to draw attention to itself in a retail environment [doesn't need to, the looks draw enough attention already :-)].

More MBL room pictures.

 

 

 

 

 Tara Labs calbe display.

 

 

 

 

 The big, and I mean BIG, MBL amplifiers.

 

 

 

 MBL loudspeakers.

 

 

 

 

  MBL loudspeaker tweeter.

 

 

 

 

 MBL loudspeaker.

 

 

 

 

 MBL loudspeaker. Kind of Georgia O'Keefe looking, huh? Or not.

 

 

 

 

 MBL 1011 converter.

 

 

 

 

 MBL preamplifier.

 

 

 

 

 MBL CD transport.

 

 

 

 

 MBL display.

 

 

 

 

 MBL CD player

 

 

 

 MBL loudspeaker.

 

 

 

 

 Smaller MBL system display.

 

 

 

 

 MBL transport.

 

 

 

 

 MBL... receiver?

 

 

 

 

 MBL loudspeaker.

 

 

 

 

 MBL loudspeaker.

 

 

 

 

 MBL loudspeaker.

 

 

 

 

 MBL loudspeakers.

 

 

 

Nola, Muse, Sunfire, Equi=Tech, Sim2, Plinius, Nordost*
 

 There were a lot of systems at HE 2006 that had a screen and front projector setup. But there was not one that was playing a movie and the movie soundtrack at the same time during our visits. The point being that many rooms were setup for 5.1 surround sound but were not really taking advantage of it.

anyway, this systems seems to small for the room, and they were not even trying to achieve standard A/V sound pressure levels. The purpose of this room seemed to just demonstrate that Nola has support for 5.1 in this price range.

More Nola, Muse, Sunfire, Eq=Tech, Sim2, Plinius, Nordost pictures.

 

 

 

 Nola center channel loudspeaker.

 

 

 

 

 Nola front channel loudspeaker.

 

 

 

 

 Nola outboard crossover for the loudspeaker.

 

 

 

 

 The equipment rack for this system.

 

 

 

 

 Muse CD player (lots of these at the show, huh?)

 

 

 

 

 Sunfire Theater Grand surround sound processor

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 Sim2 / Seleco front projector.

 

 

 

 

 Rear of Plinius amplifier.

 

 

 

 Rear of Sim2 / Seleco projector.

 

 

 

Nola, Plinius, Antique Sound Lab, Kuzma, Muse, ASR, Equi=Tech, Nordost*, HannL
 

The big Nola room. They had the speakers bi-amped, solid-state (Plinius SA-Reference) for the bottom frequencies, tube amplification (Antique Sound Labs) for the top. The sound did fill up the room though it seemed to be straining some.

The sound they were trying to achieve here... using nice, but not excruciatingly nice components (not counting the big Kuzma turntable) was presumably a well-balanced diet of some sonic nutritional value ... but no feast, if you get my drift.

Well, although the soundstage depth was first rate, and the solidity and presence of some of the images would often be staggering, the rest of the attributes of the sound varied between acceptable and please-gawd-no (on digital, for example Bob Dylan. Oh, I always think during times like these that I really hope the innocent attendees in the room listening to this know that Dylan - or whatever - can actually not rattle the teeth. You all know and have no doubt heard what Dylan's harmonica and voice can do when played on a treble-troubled system).

On the small, tiny-even Kuzma turntable, this system probably did achieve a kind of balance - though one has to wonder about the upper midrange on music with harmonicas - and given that most of us do not have to fill a room this size, this system would probably be quite Impressive, somewhat Enjoyable and Emotional, and sometimes Real [though it is kind of space-walking without a tether this way that one note will sound real and the next not.].

More Nola, Plinius, Antique Sound Lab, Kuzma, Muse, ASR, Equi=Tech, Nordost*, HannL pictures.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 A nicely sized room.

 

 

 

 

 A Nola loudspeaker.

 

 

 

 

  A Nola loudspeaker with out-board crossover.

 

 

 

 

 Antique Sound Lab Hurricane DT amplifier.

 

 

 

 

   A Nola loudspeaker with out-board crossover and Antique Sound Labs amplifier.

 

 

 

 

 Antique Sound Lab Hurricane DT amplifier.

 

 

 

 

The  rear of the midrange and treble section of the Nola loudspeaker.

 

 

 

 The equipment rack for this system.

 

 

 

 

 The tiny Kuzma Stabi S turntable with Stogi S tonearm (No, I am not just showing off the fact that I can read the text in the picture. Both our blind and sight-challenged readers - and some of this does require me to put on glasses - as well as Google cannot read the text in photos).

 

 

 

 

 The tiny Kuzma Stabi S turntable with Stogi S tonearm

 

 

 

 

 The tiny Kuzma Stabi S turntable with Stogi S tonearm

 

 

 

 

 The tiny Kuzma Stabi S turntable with Stogi S tonearm

 

 

 

 

 The tiny Kuzma Stabi S turntable with Stogi S tonearm. Not sure what the bright-orange transparent cartridge is.

 

 

 

 

 Equipment rack's components.

 

 

 

 

 Plinius preamplifier.

 

 

 

 

 Muse CD player.

 

 

 

 Equi=tech Model Q1000 power conditioner running at 122 Volts.

 

 

 

 

 Da big Kuzma turntable, which did get played while we were there but not during these photos.

 

 

 

 

 The Kuzma AIR LINE tonearm.

 

 

 

 

 The Kuzma AIR LINE tonearm.

 

 

 

 

 The Kuzma AIR LINE tonearm.

 

 

 

 

 The Kuzma AIR LINE tonearm.

 

 

 

 

 The Kuzma turntable's belt-drive system using two belts.

 

 

 

 

 The Kuzma equipment rack system.

 

 

 HannL record cleaners.

 

 

 

 

 The HannL Micro record cleaner.

 

 

 

 

  The HannL Aragon record cleaner.

 

 

 

 

  The HannL Mera record cleaner.

 

 

The IsoMike B&W, Pass Labs, Emm Labs*, Kimber, Genex room
 

 Happy to say that this instantiation of the IsoMike room sounded much better than the ones at CES 2006 and HE 2005. Mostly because it failed gracefully when the music got too complex for the system to render correctly.

I am never sure just what the goal of the IsoMike system is: is it to demonstrate the quality of the IsoMike recording processes and technology? The quality of the music and musicians who played it as recorded on the IsoMike CD? Is it the quality of the system, like the other rooms at the show? Usually, and this time is no exception, I comment on the latter.

The goal of this system is most likely to sound Real. To both demonstrate the soundstage imaging that the IsoMike microphone system is able to provide, as well as realistic dynamics. There are of course other aspects to a sound that sounds Real, and it is those that I think this system is largely incapable of, not to mention Enjoyability and Emotionality - which are just not neither the Pass Labs nor B&W's forte.

Great imaging, however, requires the ability to render more subtle details than the Pass Labs are capable of, and realistic dynamics not only requires a fast attack on each note, but a realistic decay, something else that is not the Pass Labs forte (this is very difficult for any solidstate amplifier to get correctly, and usually only in conjunction with a suitable load i.e. loudspeaker).

Sitting near the rear of the room, one could detect the difference in arrival times between the front and rear channels, leading to sort of an echo effect that made it hard to experience the music as in any way real. We did move up into the center front and heard a number of selections from that sweeter spot.

But, besides the collapse into some confusion when more than a few notes were being played at a time - which does not happen all that often on the demos we heard - there was some transparency and realism and this was one of the better sounds of the show in terms of the system accomplishing what the system set out to accomplish.

[I know, I go though all that, highlighting the problems, and then end up commenting that this is one of the better systems. It is just that a lot of people seem to lose perspective in the IsoMike rooms, being told how this is the best that can be done and seeing what is usually, and recognizably, the best digital source at the show. I just think it is a system like any other system and should be evaluated as such - in the pursuit of truth and honesty and advancing the state-of-the art and all that rot.]

More IsoMike B&W, Pass Labs, Emm Labs*, Kimber, Genex room pictures.

 

 

 

 

 A large, dark room.

 

 

 

 

 Rear of the large dark room.

 

 

 

 

 Pass Labs monoblock amplifiers.

 

 

 

 

 B&W 800N loudspeaker tilted back quite a bit.

 

 

 

 B&W 800N loudspeaker tilted back quite a bit.

 

 

 

 

 The front end, consisting of a Emm Labs Switchman multi-channel preamplifier, Emm Labs DAC8 multi-channel DAC, and what looks like a Genex DSD player (tape or hard disk, don't know)

 

 

 

 

 B&W 800N loudspeaker tilted back quite a bit.

 

 

 

 

 The front of the system as a whole.

 

 

 

 

 The front of the system from the side.

 

 

 

 

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