SHOW REPORT

Part 8

Floor 4

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 NEAT, Chord, Exposure, Kubala-Sosna room
 

 If the goal of this system is produce a nice, balanced sound, with a little Sophistication, a little Enjoyable, and little Emotionality, then this system is a success. It probably even gets a little Impressive if you turn it up.

More NEAT, Chord, Exposure, Kubala-Sosna room pictures.

 

 

 

 

 NEAT loudspeaker

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 Chord CPA 4000 Preamplifier

 

 

 

 We did not get to hear the second NEAT / Chord system.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 Chord CPM 3300 integrated amplifier

 

 

 

 

 Chord CPM 3300 integrated amplifier

 

 

 

 

 NEAT loudspeaker

 

 

 

 

 NEAT loudspeaker

 

 

 

 

 Chord electronics display.

 

 

 

 

 Chord CD player

 

 

 

 

 Chord electronics display

 

 

 

 

 The main system.

 

 

 

 Chord electronics display.

 

 

 

 

 Chord electronics display.

 

 

 

 

 Chord electronics display.

 

 

 

 

 Chord electronics display.

 

 

 

 The Von Gaylord room
 

 The Von Gaylord system with their oil-cooled amplifiers and loudspeakers did not sound as interesting as it did in Las Vegas at CES 2006. Constrined and over damped, with little micro-dynamics or midi-dynamics, came off as kind of dull sounding to this listener.

More Von Gaylord room pictures.

 

 

 

 

 Von Gaylor loudspeaker.

 

 

 

 

 Von Gaylord amplifier.

 

 

 

 

 

 Von Gaylord CD player and preamplifier.

 

 

 

 

 Von Gaylord loudspeakers.

 

 

 

 

 Von Gaylord preamplifier

 

 

 

 Von Gaylord.

 

 

 

 

 Von Gaylord amplifiers.

 

 

 

 

 Von Gaylord Starlet

 

 

 

 

 Von Gaylord

 

 

 

 

 Von Gaylord UNI amplifier.

 

 

 

 The Bolzano Villetri SRL, Muse, Copland, Pioneer, Denon room
 

 This unique looking, highly lacquered system was also going for the 5.1 surround sound thang, though only apparently playing two channels. Perhaps exhibitors were prepared to go Audio / Visual or two-channel and only decided at the show in some kind of 100 monkey type of learned behavior to stick to two channel. Or maybe they had a meeting, I don't know.

We kind of had our eye on this company since their debut at CES 2006. Anyway, this listener was disappointed that this system did not provide any of the necessary ingredients this listener looks for in a music reproduction system. It was also somewhat unbalanced both in the frequency and dynamic domains.

More Bolzano Villetri SRL, Muse, Copland, Pioneer, Denon room pictures.

 

 

 

 

 Bolzano Villetri SRL loudspeaker

 

 

 

 

 

 Bolzano Villetri SRL loudspeaker

 

 

 

 

 Bolzano Villetri SRL loudspeaker

 

 

 

 

 Bolzano Villetri SRL center-channel loudspeaker

 

 

 

 Bolzano Villetri SRL loudspeaker close-up

 

 

 

 

 Bolzano Villetri SRL center-channel loudspeaker

 

 

 

 

 The equipment rack.

 

 

 

 

 Another Muse CD player.

 

 

 

 

 Muse amplifier.

 

 

 

 

 Copland CD player

 

 

 

 

 Stack of mass market home theater electronics

 

 

 

 

 The Hyperion, Sony room
 

 The all Hyperion system plus Sony SCD-1 player sounded decent. The way I interpret the goal of this system is as a stab at an inexpensive Sophisticated system, a way for someone to get a hi-fi sound at a reasonable, to some people, price. In this I think they succeed. Although there are as few frequencies that 'need work' in terms of being either offensive or AWOL, this system can also be Enjoyable with the right upstream components. Just not sure that Hyperion components, nor that SCD-1 player, are the right ones for this.

More Hyperion, Sony room pictures.

 

 

 

 

 Hyperion loudspeaker.

 

 

 

 

 Equipment rack of mostly Hyperion electronics.

 

 

 

 Hyperion tube amplifier.

 

 

 

 

 Hyperion tube amplifier.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 Hyperion preamplifier.

 

 

 

 

 Hyperion loudspeaker. That reflection of a light-bulb is weird, huh?

 

 

 

 

 Rear of the Hyperion loudspeaker that looks a lot like a Wilson Audio Watt/Puppy loudspeaker.

 

 

 

 

 

 Hyperion loudspeaker

 

 

 Zu Audio, Manley, ModWright, Audio Pax, Luxman
 

 We spent some time here, having one customer who bought these and hated them and of course on the other side all the positive raves [irony intended] on 6moons. We also go to hear the smaller Zu Audio loudspeakers, in the other system below, at the Zu Audio-sponsored Rave at HE 2006. We had them play Radiohead's "Kid A" LP, our Radiohead test CD being left at home by, oh.......let's juts say: someone-not-me.  :-)

[They had the speaker bass sections wired out of phase in order to address certain room resonance issues - but we are rarely over-critical of bass performance from ordinary sized speakers at shows - so this was no problem for us].

In my estimation, the goal of this system was to sound Enjoyable. The Zu Audio loudspeakers also try to address being Impressive by paying attention to the bass (as opposed to resolution) for the younger crowd who, like most newcomers to our hobby who are not women, want and expect from their system.

The system did sound Enjoyable and so I think they obtained their main goal. Radiohead can be an amazingly difficult type of music to 'get right' and it did reveal the lack of ultimate detail and resolution of this system, as well as a somewhat wacky, but not totally Don Knots-like, frequency response.

So, the goals would seem to be Enoyability first, Impressiveness second and Realism later. The corresponds with Srajan's stated opinion, a prime champion of Zu Audio at 6moons, that Realism can't be achieved, so why bother - get something that is pleasing and be done with it. Me, I do not want my system to be a musical instrument itself, I want it to be a transparent conduit for the musical instruments on the source material. It is important for me to 'suspend disbelief' that there are actually musicians in front of me and that this is really the sound that they indented me to hear. Oops, getting off track here....

Comparing this to the Acoustic Zen Adagio loudspeaker: The Adagio approach, in my interpretation, at less than half of these speakers, is going for Realism first and foremost, Enjoyability second and Impressiveness 3rd - though it can be quite impressive in a hotel-sized room, as we heard at this show. The Kharma* 3.1c, more or less the same price category as the Zu Definition speakers above, is going for and achieves Realism, Emotionality and Enjoyability, but only then thinks [sic] about bring Impressive.

It is up to the listener to choose what they want out of their system, and to realize and accept the fact, actually the almost inevitable certainty, that they will come to prefer something else completely someday in the future.

More Zu Audio, Audio Pax, Manley, ModWright, Luxman pictures.

 

 

 

 

 It is a large room.

 

 

 

 Zu Audio loudspeaker.

 

 

 

 

 Zu Audio loudspeaker.

 

 

 

 

 Uh, Manley Steelhead power supply.

 

 

 

 

 Vibration controlling shields for the amplifier. No, wait. Johnny Cash holding back a slew of newcomer wannabe's. No, ...it is actually an Audio Pax amplifier.

 

 

 

 

 Luxman turntable.

 

 

 

 

 ModWright Instruments' SWL 9.0SE preamplifier and Manley Steelhead phonostage.

 

 

 

 

 Sony NS9100ES DVD player and PS Audio? HCA-2 stereo amplifier

 

 

 

 

 

 Top view of the empty, lonely Luxman turnable.

 

 

 

 

 The very reflective AudioPax amplifier.

 

 

 

 

 Flying over the AudioPax amplifier.

 

 

 

 Rear of the Zu Audio Definition loudspeaker. Feel kind of naughty looking back here.

 

 

 

 

 Rear bottom of the Zu Audio Definition loudspeaker.

 

 

 

 

 Front of Zu Audio Definition loudspeaker with insufficient lighting.

 

 

 

 

 Album's eye view of the Audio Pax amplifier.

 

 

 

 

 The other side of the Zu Audio room - the second system. Did not get to hear this ourselves, at least I didn't.

 

 

 

 

 Zu Audio 'Druid' loudspeaker.

 

 

 

 

 Z amps for Z Zu Audio room? Sorry, Concast is down right now, so I can't look up and find out what these are. Feel free to google them if you are interested...

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 Rockport, Gryphon, Shunyata*, Harmonic Resolution Systems (HRS)*, Kubala-Sosna. (without Rives room treatment)
 

 This room and the next were designed to show that a room treated by Rives sounds better than a room not treated by Rives. In that sense these two rooms were a success. We also can talk about the aesthetics of one room versus another. And we can also talk about the sound of the system itself.

Let's do the latter. I presume this room was trying to be everything - Real, Enjoyable, Emotional, Sophisticated and Impressive. We'll leave out Magical - it just ain't gonna happen. Why?

You got a loudspeaker that is designed to sound Real and Impressive - and totally ignores anything else. You have a solid-state front end that - I have no idea what Gryphon is gong for but it ain't Enjoyable or Emotional. So what you have here, then, is something very cold and unnatural sounding.

OK, on to the next room.

More Rockport, Gryphon, Shunyata*, Harmonic Resolution Systems (HRS)*, Kubala-Sosna, (without Rives room treatment) pictures.

 

 

 

 

 Rockport loudspeaker.

 

 

 

 HRS 'MXR' equipment rack full of Gryphon gear and Shunyata Hydra.

 

 

 

 

 HRS MXR equipment rack full of Gryphon gear and Shunyata Hydra.

 

 

 

 

 Rear of ported Rockport loudspeaker.

 

 

 

 

 Another view of the 2-way Rockport loudspeaker.

 

 

 

 

 The Gryphon CD player. Cool logo by the way.

 

 

 

 

 Gryphon Diablo integrated amplifier.

 

 

 

 

 Shunyata Research Hydra Model-4 power distributor.

 

 

 

 

 

 Another, perhaps better, view of the equipment on the HRS equipment rack.

 

 

 

 Rockport, Gryphon, Shunyata*, Harmonic Resolution Systems (HRS)*, (with Rives room treatment)
 

 OK, whew, here we are at room number two. Same system as room #1 except there was a Rives equalizer, the HRS rack had a walnut instead of gray finish, and room treatment.

You can see the various types of room treatment used: the vertical wooden slats and the rectangles of soft material. This room, in comparison to the previous, untreated room, had much fewer echos / reverberations, i.e. it was more heavily dampened and the decay of notes now occurred in finite time. With my eyes closed I preferred this room. With them open... Check out the Continuum room and what Eighth Nerve did to their ceiling. Seemed to work too...

More Rockport, Gryphon, Shunyata*, Harmonic Resolution Systems (HRS)*, (with Rives room treatment) pictures.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 Rockport 2-way loudspeaker.

 

 

 

 

 Rear of room with horizontal wooden slats on top of the hotel room's entertainment center.

 

 

 

 

 Side of the room.

 

 

 

 

 The HRS MXR equipment rack in walnut burl.

 

 

 

 

 Face-to-face with the Gryphon CD player

 

 

 

 

 The Gryphon integrated amplifier.

 

 

 

 

 Rives' programmable equalizer.

 

 

 

 

 

 Shunyata Hydra Model-4 power distributor.

 

 

 

 

 The right side of the HRS equipment rack.

 

 

 

 

 Sunlight over Gryphon CD player.

 

 

 

 Rives' programmable equalizer apparently indicating that a 1.8Hz band at 84.5 Hz is not being attenuated.

 

 

 

 

 Mike playing with camera.

 

 

 

The Wilson, Ayre, Legenburg room

 I believe this may be an older Wilson Watt/Puppy. In any case, I believe this room existed in order to show off the Legenburg cables and they had a very nice display of which we have many photographs at the link below as well as a few on this page. I think their claim to fame is cables with a rectangular core - not sure this is a good or bad thing, but... ok.

More Wilson, Ayre, Legenburg room pictures.

 

 

 

 

 Legenburg cables

 

 

 

 

 Wilson loudspeaker.

 

 

 

 

 The equipment rack.

 

 

 

 

 Ayre Evolution CD player

 

 

 

 

 

 Ayre Evolution preamplifier.

 

 

 

 

 Ayre Evolution amplifier.

 

 

 

 

 A cutaway display of the Legenburg cable.

 

 

 

 

 Legenburg cables

 

 

 

 

 Legenburg cable

 

 

 

 

 Legenburg cable on silk.

 

 

 

 The HSU room
 

 Now if they turned off the lights and actually played movies on that screen... could get interesting. Kind of like bumper cars but using spaced-out audiophiles with love handles for bumpers instead. What gets me is all the awards some of the equipment in these rooms proclaim to have received from audio magazine reviewers.

For one, there are too many levels of quality in this industry that are implicit that should be made explicit: I am sure that this equipment is good on some level for some segment of the marketplace.

Second: the review process is just plain broken.

 

 

 

 

 OK, "Feedback Destroyer Pro". What a great name. Even I know what it does. Or do I?

 

 

 

 Aperion, Parasound, ModWright, Onkyo (3 rooms)

 These 3 rooms, whose sound was marginally better than that at Circuit City, was interesting as a sign of things to come. Or perhaps of things coming around again. Like Cambridge Audio, this appears to be another direct-selling manufacturer at, maybe, about the same level of competency.

More Aperion, Parasound, ModWright, Onkyo pictures.

 

 

 

 

 Aperion subwoofer.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 Aperion center channel.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 The Earthquake room
 

 More TAD-like, B&W-like, KEF-like looking loudspeakers. Awesome looking center-channel, though I feel like I should duck! or something. The sound, though undoubtedly Impressive in a larger room, was thankfully not turned up too loud. Enough was heard to determine that being Impressive is really all the only purpose this equipment is designed to address.

More Earthquake room pictures.

 

 

 

 

 

 Earthquake center channel. That little sign says 'Complete Titan system' $25,000. Not sure if that is the entire 5.1 system or just the center with amplifier. Anyway, you get the idea.

 

 

 

 

 

 Earthquake center channel.

 

 

 

 

 

 Earthquake room equipment rack.

 

 

 

 

 The Focus, Vitus Audio, Aurum Acoustics, Sound Application room

 This system, though potentially trying to be the end all and be all with respect to the audio wish list - came off as being too neutral to be Emotional or Enjoyable, and not enough Sophistication and delicacy to be Real so... I think in a larger room it could be Impressive, and with perhaps a tube preamplifier in the loop one could make it enjoyable, and then go from there... But it is the job of this report to report on what is, and not what could be, which is left up to those oh-so-playful Mixibitors.

More Focus, Vitus Audio, Aurum Acoustics, Sound Application room pictures.

 

 

 

 

 

 Vitus Audio amplifier.

 

 

 

 

 

 The equipment rack.

 

 

 

 

 

 Aurum Acoustics' Integris CD player and preamplifier

 

 

 

 

 

 Bel Canto CD player.

 

 

 

 

 Vitus Audio preamplifier.

 

 

 

 

 Rear of Focus loudspeaker.

 

 

 

 

 Sound Application RLS power conditioner.

 

 

 

 

 Focus Audio loudspeaker.

 

 

 

 

  Focus Audio loudspeaker silhouetted against poster of same.

 

 

 

 

 Rear binding posts of Focus loudspeaker

 

 

 

 

And its outside, sunshine, and the 1/2 mile or less walk to the Vacuum Tube Valley VTV 2006 West audio show.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Copyright Audio Federation, Inc.. All rights reserved.
All pictures in this report are freely copyable and distributable.
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