Full Report
January 8th-11th, 2007


* product carried by Audio Federation

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



The AudioKinesis, deHavilland room.



The Stormbringer speakers were driven by the deHavilland gear, with the subwoofer in the corner driven by the NuForce amp next door [photos below].



The deHavilland gear.











The adjoining room had AudioKinesis' Jazz Modules loudspeakers. The sound in this room was engaging - Enjoyable and Emotional. Some of the best sound I have heard from an Atma-Sphere amp, but then again, I just have never understood what those amps are trying to do.











The Atma-Sphere amp driving the Jazz Modules.




The CD etc. player and DAC.




The NuForce amp for the system next door.





The Neospeak Audio room.




I do not remember if I got to hear this system, but here we have yet more speakers with ceramic drivers. There is a certain level of performance the drivers give the speaker designer, but they have to be careful to balance this performance with real world expectations by the listener that the rise and fall of the notes not occur instantaneously.












Those are some dirty CDs....




Well, there is the iPod. Where do we stick it in? The docking stations are cool, hooking up a cable to the little guy, a cable that weighs more than the iPod.... Well, I would love to see *Elrod make a cable that hooked up to an iPod... :-) [for those that do not know, Elrod makes very, very, very fat power cords].




The Sound Engineering, DaVinci Audio Lab, Rethm Speakers, Stealth Audio Cables ... room.

I also see what looks like a ModWright Instruments preamplifier there. Hey, you know someone really likes a manufacturer's piece of equipment at least a little bit if they bring it to exhibit in a room without that manufacturer having to pay a portion of the cost of the room [which would get their name on the sign]. This is true for all rooms at all shows.

This room sounded WAY better than at the last CES. Whether this is because they were not playing it at 100dB, or because these are different Rethm speakers, or some other reason, I do not know. But definitely more balance between the midrange and the rest of the frequencies.








The Edgarhorn and Cyrus Brenneman room.




Cyrus Brenneman amplifier




The disturbing source gear for such revealing speakers...




The Edgarhorn loudspeaker.




The Von Gaylord Audio room.




The Emerald Physics, Evett Design, Shaki Innovations room.

They didn't want me to photo this room until a demonstration of the Shakti stands [those things in the far right and left that look kind of like wooden tuning forks] had run its course, so I got to hear part of it, albeit off axis.

Like many of these room treatment things, they definitely did something, but whether it is over all a positive something it would take longer than a few minutes, for me anyway, to determine. Definitely best if they are used in pairs or somehow arranged so that the overall effect is balanced.

The sound, like at RMAF, very open and accessible, although I was more impressed at RMAF - it could just be that the general environment at St. Tropez not lending itself to great sound.
















The deHavilland, Prana Wire, Redpoint Audio Design room. Looks like there is also a Manley Steelhead being used as the phono preamplifier.

We've seen this room many times at many shows. This is one of those setups that has been optimized to do what it does, and to do it anywhere.

What does it do? Maybe I should use that table this show report is using for the rooms that seemed to deserve in-depth analysis this year. But, until that possibility evidences itself, I am hear typing this now, so....

I would rank the sound in this order of priorities: Enjoyable, Emotional, Sophisticated, Magical, and last, Real. It is the blend of the first three categories, with an opportunity for the 4th, that makes this system really accessible to a lot of people, in my opinion. It is not, however, for the very vocal audiophiles who need to have their system be Impressive first and foremost.








Needs work...




The Acoustic Plan room.








The Lansche Audio Room, with a DCS front end. The Lansche loudspeakers use the Corona solid-state plasma tweeter, potentially one of the best tweeters ever made. They are also relatively inexpensive. So many eyes are on Lansche to see what they do with this tweeter. They also mentioned that they should also be coming out with a high-end horn / plasma tweeter hybrid loudspeaker in 2007.








The fit-and-finish is quite good.




The tweeter is apparently run from 2.5K Hz on up, which is a good sign. Don't want to start it too high, as that puts a lot of stress on the upper-midrange driver.

The tweeter emits sound out the front of the upper horn-shaped cavity, and vents heat out the top of the speaker through the vents. Plasma tweeters generate a plasma by applying a high voltage to a rod of an amenable material, creating a very hot plasma, that is modulated to create sound.

For some reason they use a different technique than that of using a brass combustion chamber to  catalyze the ozone generated by the plasma into oxygen.








The *Acoustic Zen, FLK Marketing, Modwright Instruments, Red Dragon Audio, Response Audio, Stillpoints Room.

When people read about some particular loudspeakers, or any component actually, and how someone likes them quite a bit, there is the natural tendency to imagine in their head that the component sounds like their preferred sound. And, what is more frustrating, there is the expectation that the first systems heard with with this component will have a sound like their preferred type of sound.

Well, if the day is lucky the sound of the system will be wonderful and what a particular listener is looking for. But the next person to hear the system is going to be screwed, because they will almost certainly have a different sound in mind.

So, if one assumes, which seems wise in today's world, that not every day is going to be lucky - then one is likely to run into a great system with the reputedly great component that is not to a listener's taste. Sucks I know.

This leaves a person with what seems like four alternatives:

1. Assume that the totality of reviewers and people posting on the net are nuts [this is a safe bet, in any case :-) ]

2. Go to more shows and hear the component in many different kinds of systems [this assumes that the exhibitor exhibits at multiple shows and does not just exhibit one system configuration].

3. Go to a dealer, and have them try and tailor a system with the component to the desired sound While You Wait, the person offering feedback on how the sound of each intermediate system is at odds with the desired sound

4. Learn to 'hear through' a system to determine the underlying characteristics and qualities of a component

Our advice is to:

a) always assume (1) is true unless you are very familiar with the pontificator, and they have demonstrated themselves to be nuts in a way that is agreeable and appreciated.

b) do (2) if you have the time [you will learn so much about your preferences and just What Can Happen to perfectly good components :-) ],

c) (3) if you can find an amenable dealer that would be great, but please be patient, sometimes it takes more than a single visit to zero in on just what one is looking for - because audiophile nomenclature is wonderfully ambiguous and it often comes down to 'I'll know it when I hear it'.

d) Only some people seem to be able to do (4), and it can in any case be unreliable, so it can be used as a guide and best used in conjunction with, and confirmed by, the approaches (2) and (3) above.


This lengthy detour is all to say that the Adagios sound different in different systems, but their underlying character is always the same.

In the above system they are driven by the Red Dragon solid-state amps. These are decent amps and the systems with these amps and these speakers favors the Real, Sophisticated and Enjoyable categories, and less so on the Emotional and Sweet categories.

Driven by the Response Audio amps, or any decent tube amp, which I did not hear at this show (but I think Neli did) but did hear at RMAF (which Neli didn't) favors the Enjoyable and Emotional categories of sound appreciation.

The Adagios are always capable of being pretty darn Impressive when driven hard, even out in the middle of a large room, in terms of bass but without an elevated detailed presentation. But there ARE details, the tweeter is not a diamond tweeter and the top end is not rolled off. For those that want a rounder, more laid back upper-midrange, some system tailoring is required in order to feed that particular flavor of sound to these speakers for them to play.


The reason we, in particular, like these particular speakers is that they are so well-balanced and 'competent' - for $4300 speakers. Top-to-bottom they are well-balanced in numerous ways (micro-, midi-, and macro-dynamics and frequency response except for the quite reasonable dip and hump near the port frequency) and this makes it 'better' in our opinion than those 'popular' brands of speakers that try to draw attention to themselves, or are just plain badly designed, with un-balanced and exaggerated behaviors. These are musical, by which we mean that they are Enjoyable even when they are setup to be Real - and they really do a decent job at being real - unlike most of the competition who are aggressively neutral to the point of being intentionally unpleasant [which seems to be a whole new category of sound that we do not address here but which has its adherents, no irony or sarcasm intended].


But let's face it, for $4.3K one cannot expect the perfect, tabla rasa speaker, that is so perfect and competent it can be anything any particular listener wants. As a full-range speaker, it is competitive with $8K speakers, and it is not until $12K or so that we, at Audio Federation, have found definitively better speakers, the Marten 'Miles III' and the Kharma '3.1c'.


I didn't want to turn this into a sales report, but since we have recommended these speakers for a while now, and finally picked them up ourselves a few months ago, we have had to describe the above in answer to the obvious question: "Just what in heck do you mean when you say you like these speakers ...and they don't cost $40K+ ?", many times.
















































The FLK marketing, Power Modules, Redpoint Audio Designs, Sillpoints room.

The first room you see is with the smaller system.




The adjoining room has the larger system.

The theme this year is 'blue'.

Maybe Redpoint should change their name to RainbowPoint? :-) That blue Redpoint turntable is not only my favorite color, but was designed to go with the blue Escalante speakers and the Blue Modwright preamp.

Neli heard this system and thought the weakest link was the amps [hey, there always has to be a weakest link, right?]








































These Sonist speakers were at VTV in L.A. earlier this year, uh, make that late last year, and we thought they were decent. They have much more completion here, but we are glad to see them at this much larger show. They were using the Royal Device Sara 300B SET amp on the Sonist Concerto 3 floorstanders, and the Fi X 2A3 amp on the Sonist Concerto 2 standmounts.








The layout of this amplifier is quite unique, is it not?




The ATD, Copland, Yter Audio Cable room.
















The Jujitsu Ten room.




One uses the volume knob on the preamplifier here by twisting it left and right, like the cap on a screw top wine bottle, not that we are all that familiar with such fare.




The cutaway view of one of the speakers.




The Eminent Technology, Monarchy Audio room.












The Acoustic Revive, Sekiguchi room




The America Digital Audio room.



















* product carried by Audio Federation

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


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