T.H.E Home Entertainment Show 2014 was top notch this year. From a business perspective I have never attended a show where I’ve heard so many reports of sales (with big ticket items leading the way). Shows have indeed evolved into a new “store front” for dealers, distributors and manufacturers.
Magazine and Ezine ads and reviews are no longer the bread and butter of sales and product awareness. We now have forums, PMs and new media to share our audio experiences. Though it's the shows that have emerged as proven delivery channels for the high performance audio industry. Where else can a visitor see and hear hundreds of brands and thousands of components under one roof?
This year’s show was a cornucopia of sonic delights. The mighty MBL Xtremes battled against the big Perfect 8s, the new kid on the block, Polymer Audio Research, won accolades from numerous reviewers and the newcomer from YG, the Hailey, was a showstopper. New players like Perla Audio and Muraudio with their Domain Omni Electrostatic speaker grabbed everyone’s attention. But when the dust settled, there were clear winners.
Leading the way, the Perfect 8 “The Force” surpassed the big MBLs. The MBLs did their amazing 360 degree tricks but the leading image edge was diffuse. A fellow MBL 101 E MK II owner told me that the Xtremes were breathtaking in the single chair sweet spot. In fact, I was told a fight almost ensued for that sweet spot. I would have never thought the big MBLs as sweet spot loudspeakers. It may be an Xtreme “thing” because I get outstanding sound in many listening positions with the 101E MKIIs. The Perfect 8s on the other hand had an echo chamber exhibit room but nonetheless sounded “real” no matter where I stood. The image density was off the charts and the inner detail was breathtaking.
While only my second time with the Polymers, I am a smitten reviewer. The Poly’s had no business sounding as good as they did due to a disastrous ballroom with no real left hand wall and a mirrored right hand wall. Somehow by Sunday afternoon the room operators had coaxed out that signature Poly sound; astounding ease and naturalness combined with exemplary tone with seemingly invisible cabinets.
The big surprise of the show was the Music First Audio room with Triangle Art and Audio Note. Warren Jarrett expertly set the room up and placed a pair of Audio Note Type E high efficiency speakers in a self-constructed corner config. The small hotel room literally disappeared. It was the most convincing room at the show for musical involvement.
Newcomer, Perla Audio, was showing two systems. The larger system featured the Composer USB DAC, the Signature 50, amplifier and PRS 2B speakers. Folks, these products are all CNC machined billet aluminum and look fantastic. The surprise was the sound. At the end of the listening session I knew we had a winner. Listen for yourself on the upcoming video! Wide dynamic range with crystal clarity is the Perla signature sound.
The other standout small room was the Raido, Hegel, Ansuz room. The diminutive Raidho X-1 threw a huge and detailed soundstage with astonishing sculptured layering. This speaker is the best small format speaker currently on the market to my ears. It looks like a computer speaker, but trust me… it’s not.
Next year T.H.E. Show moves to the Hotel Irvine, a far more upscale venue to showcase high performance audio products. I had a tour of the hotel and the rooms are a big step up sonically from the Hilton and Atrium hotels. The convention area is massive and the roof top concierge room is spectacular with a walk around deck and views galore.
Don’t miss T.H.E. Show 2015!