Audionet Stern and Heisenberg Amplifiers, Full Review and Listening Session, GTT Audio and Video
Audionet Stern and Heisenberg Amplifiers, Full Review and Listening Session, GTT Audio and Video
Audionet Stern and Heisenberg Amplifiers, Full Review and Listening Session, GTT Audio and Video
Absolare, Sound by Singer, Spendor Loudspeakers, Laufer Teknik Memory Player, Chord
Adirondack Audio, Luxman, Modulum Platforms, Triangle Speakers
Audio Note TT 3 Turntable, Meishu amplifier
Essential Sound Products, Magico S5 MKII, CAT
Perfect 8 The Cube S, VAC amplifier, DCs Dac
Robyatt Audio, Electrostatic Solutions Quad 57, BK Butler Amps, Miyajima Labs, Schroder, Technics, Wax Rax
Stillpoints, Absolare, Grandinote, Laufer Teknik Memory Player, Telos
Vitalis Audio, Feastrex Single Driver Loudspeakers
The UHA Ultima 4 Reel to Reel Tape Deck
Mike Malinowski Reviews the United Home Audio UHA Ultima2 The new written review is below the videos!
Peter Breuninger Reviews the Phase 11
Introduction to the Phase 11
Listening to Reel-to-Reel Tape
Reviewer Thoughts and Conclusions
Meet the Designer and Purchasing Tapes, Greg Beron
Mike Malinowski Reviews the United Home Audio UHA Ultima2
As a lifelong audiophile and long-term reviewer I’ve had the opportunity to listen to some of the world’s greatest audio components. Having meandered through the various formats, I always returned to vinyl. For years, I have been firmly ensconced in the vinyl world, fortunately, reaching a point at or near the state-of-the-art. That was until I met Greg Beron.
Although a diverse group, audiophiles often inexorably strive for that next small, incremental improvement. While leapfrog watershed component improvements have occurred, unfortunately, they usually occur in the ultra-high price strata. I believed that long-gone are the days of inserting a reasonably priced source component into a state-of-the-art system resulting in dramatic improvements. Therefore, part of the fun of our hobby is looking for that 3%, 4%, or 5% gain. I believed in this paradigm until I had the pleasure of meeting Greg Beron and his UHA Ultima2 deck. This is a game changer which has upended my beliefs as to what is possible.
While I’m not going to spend a lot of time discussing the design, Greg’s radial remanufacturing and modification of the Tascam BR-20 is utterly stunning in every respect. Visually you can customize this deck from an understated but elegant basic black, to an over-the-top paisley design with enough bling to command attention in any system. I opted for the somewhat conservative silver with a touch of red in the screws and VU meters. The top silver paint has a slight iridescence providing an elegant sparkle. Yet a beautiful chassis and distinctive look does not guarantee great design or sound. Underneath the hood, Greg did not just meet the current state-of-the-art, he blew past it. Stripped of its previous electronics, Greg re-engineered and replaced every element and every critical component of the deck with the highest quality audiophile circuitry. For example, the outboard power supply has the size and weight of an amplifier and provides pure DC to the entire tape deck – no AC anywhere means no AC hum. Actually, the outboard power supply is really two independent supplies: one for the drive motors, the other for the electronics. Greg has done a far better job than I could in describing the technical aspects of the deck. I urge anyone who might be interested in the technical side to explore the UHA, a website for detailed information.
Although beautiful and elegant, the ultimate question is the sound, both in an absolute sense and compared to my current state-of-the-art source components. Over many years, I’ve been very fortunate to assemble a superior listening room – Wilson Alexandria, Tenor electronics, Walker turntable, Clearaudio Statement cartridge, tweaks galore, all sitting in a custom ASC designed room. At this level there is no right or wrong, just as there’s no right or wrong luxury car. Ultimately it comes down to your specific taste.
My room reflects my tastes in listening: high-energy, emotional, revealing, with an immersive sound stage. It is the antithesis of polite and laid-back. The room is intensely resolving without being analytical, offering the ability to discern the details and differences between components.
On my audio journey, I’ve auditioned and/or owned hundreds of audio components and I really thought I had a good handle on my sonic expectations. I was wrong. Nothing could have prepared me for the arrival of the Ultima2.
The deck, now several months old, is fully broken-in. Let’s not kid ourselves. Every component imposes a unique sonic character on the sound. To get a handle on the Ultima2, I’ve listened to a large variety of tape sources and can draw some specific conclusions as to the overall sound quality of the Ultima2. Tapes in my collection include reissues from Acoustic Sounds, Groove Note, spectacular new tapes from Ed Pong, the Tape Project, Yarlung, and others. Fortunately, I was also able to listen to copies of master tapes from some of the great classic pop and rock artists, sourced from the internet and collectors around the world.
So, in general, what does Greg’s Ultima2 “sound like”? In a word – Stunning! It is utterly involving, which to me is one of the highest compliments attributable to a component. It has the ability to pull you in directly to the heart and soul of the music and at times allows you to forget that the music is being mechanically reproduced. It allows you to focus solely on the essence of the music. On the best recordings, there is an inner sense of purity and detail, which exceeds the best that I’ve heard from vinyl or digital.
The Ultima2 projects a seamlessness that is almost hard to describe. From top to bottom, music flows with a natural continuity. It makes even the best analog and digital sound slightly “discrete.” It’s also dead quiet. Turn the volume up, put your ear two inches in front of the speaker, and you hear absolutely nothing. Although cliché, music leaps from a deep black background, with heretofore unheard low-level cues, and details clearly emerge.
When it comes to soundstaging, the Ultima2 removes the walls and scales proportionally to the music source. With the right recording, in a darkened room, you can actually see the music spread across a 100 foot stage or tightly focused in an intimate nightclub. With my Proscenium Black Diamond turntable, I have heard instances where the speakers simply disappear and the music just “exists” in the room. To me, this is the ultimate compliment of the system. The Ultima2 ups the ante. At times, and with the right tapes, the speakers, the walls, and the rooms literally ceased to exist.
Over the years I bought and sold dozens of copies of very specific records that I love, in search for that ultimate set of vinyl recordings. These are my benchmarks. Over the past few months I’ve been fortunate to be able to compare some of these treasured recordings against analog tape using the Ultima2. I am able to draw some interesting and relatively consistent observations. Compared to my vinyl, the Ultima2’s tonal response is fuller, and more powerful, while vinyl is tilted to the top-end. Let me be clear, this does not mean that the Ultima2 adds a warm, slow, or euphonic glaze to the sound; far from it. It does mean that the low-end is explosive and dynamic. With other media, the low-end can be a vague background image; with the Ultima2 the low-end is deep, rich, detailed, and fully integrated into the sonic signature. Music via the UHA had more body and more “meat on the bone.” As to the top-end, I initially wondered if vinyl had more high-end energy than the tape, “and was it real?” While the records were in some cases brighter, they didn’t appear to have any additional high-end information. After significant comparative listening, I’ve concluded that tape has all of the top-end information compared to vinyl, and sometimes much more. The key difference appears to be that tape has lower distortion and presents a far smoother top-end. However, the Ultima2 has variable equalization which can be used as a pseudo tone control without the inherent messiness that typical tone controls bring to the signal. If the tape is slightly dull or bright, you can make some subtle adjustments to suit your taste.
While taking listening notes over the past few months, the word “more” kept appearing. In short, take every relevant audiophile buzzword that we banter about, and just add the word “more.” More realism, more depth, more soundstage, and more information. Simply put, the Ultima2 allows the user to become more engaged in the musical presentation. Here the Ultima2 is off the charts, and in my humble opinion, it is a quantum leap forward.
There is a sense of limitless dynamic energy, authority and musical density with an effortless presentation. To my ears, the best tape makes other medium sound slightly compressed or limited. When you combine this with the lack of surface noise, pops, or ticks, it just adds to the realism.
Conclusions? As the proud owner of arguably one of the world’s top vinyl front end systems, the question most often asked is how does the Ultima2 compare to your Walker and which is better? Certainly the comparison is not apples-to-apple. On one hand, the retail value of my vinyl front and is more than five times that of Greg’s Ultima2. On the other hand, tapes cost approximately five to ten times more than a new high-end vinyl record. Life is full of trade-offs. After living with the Ultima2, will I be selling my Walker Proscenium Black Diamond turntable? Never… They will have to pry it from my cold dead hands.
While you can find specific tracks where both the tape and vinyl are equally satisfying, generally, the Ultima2 was clearly and unambiguously superior, not just to my vinyl system, but to any system that I’ve ever heard. When the Ultima2 was better, which was often, the level of realism and emotional involvement was a substantial leap above what I thought was possible.
Reviewers are prone to hyperbole. However, I can say without fear of exaggeration, the Ultima2 is one of the signature landmark source components in a generation. If you love music, if you love sound, and are invested in a high-end system, get one of Greg’s Ultima2s. I assure you that will fall in love with it just as I have.
Deja Vu Audio, Field Coil speakers, Western Electric speakers and amps
Dr Vinyl, Audio Skies, Larsen 9 Speakers, VAC amps, Sutherland Audio, Thrax Turntable
EMIA Audio, Dave Slegle Intact Audio, myemia
Nika Loudspeakers, Destination Audio, Modwright amplifiers
Old Forge Studio, Acapella Audio Arts, Wand Tonearm, Pure Audio
VK Audio, Elekit TU 8600, AER Single driver loudspeakers, Lundahl transformers
VPI 40th Anniversary Turntable, Stillpoints, VPI Phonostage, Krell Amplifiers, Wilson Audio Alexx
Charney Audio, Companion Moderno loudspeakers, AER single driver, Sparkler CD Player, 300b
Classic Audio Loudspeakers, Purist Audio Design, Atma Sphere, Tri Planar
GamuT RS3i, Audio Skies, Pear Audio Blue Turntable, Pneupods
Gingko Audio, Arch equipment footers, Dana Cable, Salk Server
Legacy Audio, Raven Audio, Leesburg Listening Room, Legacy Valor
Modwright HA300, Amazing Amplifier, Fritz Loudspeakers
Odyssey Audio, Symphonic Line, VPI Turntable, Magnan Cables
Tenacious Sound, Audence Cables, First Row Series, TAD Loudspeakers
Reviewers View, AVShowrooms- Products of the Year 2018
Raidho Acoustics, D-4.1 Loudspeaker Review, part 1, introduction
Raidho Acoustics, D-4.1 Loudspeaker Review, part 2, listening sessions
Raidho Acoustics, D-4.1 Loudspeaker Review, part 3, sonic evaluation
Aries Cerat, Believe High Fidelity, JWM Acoustics, Torqueo Audio, Primary Control
Classic Audio Loudspeakers, Purist Audio Design, TriPlanar, Atma Sphere, 1954 JBL Hartsfield
Dana Cables, New $3,500 Headphone Cable, The Lazuli Nirvava Cable
Gill Audio $6,000 Loudspeakers
Headsonix, Questyle, QP2r, Spirit Torino Headphones
Kimber Kable, Meitner, EMM Labs, Isomike, Focal, Ray Kimber
Kirmuss Audio, Charles Kirmuss, Ultrasonic Record Cleaner
MOFI Distribution, Manger S1 speakers, Dr Feickert Volare Turntable, Primare Phone and Pre, Iso Tek
PS Audio, Arnie Nudell designed loudspeakers first listen
Raidho TD4.8 Loudspeakers North America Debut
Riviera Audio Laboratories Electronics, Meyer Tonapparate Loudspeakers, Tone Imports
Scansonic MB 5B Loudspeakers North America Debut
Stillpoints new platform stands, Zesto, Marten, Merrill Williams, Triplanar, Cardas
20/20 Evolution Audio, Gryphon Audio, Diablo 300, Mojo S Loudspeaker, Scorpio CD Player
Arion Audio, MK Audio, The Apollo System Speakers, Rollo Audio Consultants, Aqua, Lamm Amplifiers
Audio Company, VAC, Von Schweikert, Critical Mass, Kronos, Esoteric, MasterBuilt Cables
Black Ice Audio, Jim Fosgate Designed Amplifiers
Bricasti Design, Gold Show Winner! Introducing the M25 Amplifier
Cube Audio Nenuphar, Revolutionary 10 Inch Loudspeaker, Refined Audio
GT Audio Works, Sound Insight, Pass Labs, Triode Wire Labs, VuJade Audio
IMC Audio, Pass Labs, VPI, Wolf Audio Systems, PS Audio
Spatial Audio Open Baffle Speakers, Linear Tube Audio, David Berning
When visiting the Black Ice room at audio shows there is always the anticipation of something new and better. So far I haven’t been disappointed. The AVShowrooms’ Video will show you Jerred Dunkerson doing a compare and contrast on two new Black Ice Audio integrated amplifiers, the Black Ice Fusion F11 Vacuum Tube Stereo Integrated Amplifier, 18 watts per channel and the Black Ice Fusion F35 Vacuum Tube Stereo Integrated Amplifier, 50 watts per channel. We played the same two tracks with each amplifier in the system on the Black Ice Audio Fusion DAC/Transport now featuring DSD. One track was a drum and percussion recording and the other was a vocal track by artist Michel Jonasz.
The 50 watt amplifier did everything I expected it to do, delivering a full, detailed sound with layering and great separation in the instruments. However, the real surprise in the Black Ice exhibit room, hey, maybe at the entire Capital Audiofest 2018, was the little 18 watt with the giant sound driving the Vienna Acoustics Beethoven Concert Grand loudspeakers, 87db efficient. The sound was around the room, folks. Effortlessly punching through whatever challenges these recordings present. It was awe inspiring to know such great, not good, but great sound can be had at $1400! And, if that is not enough, the amplifier includes a headphone jack. All electronics in the room were Black Ice Audio.
Brian Zolner of Bricasti Audio introduces to our viewers his new M25 power amplifiers, a dual mono version. The M25’s fall between the M28 and M15 models for power, current and performance. And, a powerful performance it was. We played a track with Chinese drummers that literally exploded in the room. Outstanding bass, a multi-dimensional and layered presentation. At one point I actually jumped in my seat due to the transient attack of a drum thwack! The Bricasti system was fast, accurate and mind-blowing in its emotional involvement.
Cube Audio/Refined Audio:
It’s almost impossible for me to describe what the Cube Nenuphar 10” cone full-range single driver loudspeaker delivered at The Capital Audiofest 2018, but I’ll try. We played two tracks, one by the Frederic Alarie Trio and the other from Michel Jonasz. The realism of the bass was astounding; the overall sound, holographic with both superb tonality and tonal quality. Every instrument was in it proper place . Jon with Refined Audio talked into the AVShowrooms’ video camera and told us about the new technology that makes the Nenuphar stand out. Not to be missed. Driving the loudspeakers was the Pass Lab’s latest amplifier, the SIT-3. The preamplifier was the Pass XP-20. In use were the QLS music server and the Metrum DAC.
A beautiful and rich sound enveloped me even though I was sitting off axis. The new 2.5 way Larson 9 loudspeakers sit against the wall and pressurize the room, turning the space into the sound. Michael Vamos of Audio Skies walks us through the system and explains in more detail on the AVShowrooms’ video the number of improvements in the new Larsons. Indeed, the proof was in the sound and the bass was astounding; the overall sound, coherent. We played the track “Nublado” from the MA Recordings album Sera Una Noche on the new Thrax turntable with the Hana cartridge and Schroeder tonearm with the new Sutherland “Phono Loco” phonostage. Amplifiers were the VAC Phi 170 separates with the VAC Renaissance Mark V preamplifier with cabling by EnKlein.
GT Audio Works & Sound Insight:
This room was certainly getting the buzz during CAF 2018 and for very good reason. Possibly one of the best sounding rooms at the show, if not the best. Greg Takesh, owner of GT Audio Works talks all about his design of the GTA3r loudspeakers, an open baffle, full range, 2-way planar magnetic loudspeaker with a ribbon tweeter and proprietary driver. Now, include Steve Rabitz of Sound Insight’s open baffle powered 6/channel stereo sub woofers that go down to 16 Hz and you’ve got an uber-fast, chest-pounding sound with no sacrifice to delicacy and detail.
I describe this as a masculine sound in the AVShowrooms’ “Reviewers View” Video that most certainly mesmerized and beguiled this female listener! The system was powered by the Pass Labs XA 60.8 power amps and the Pass Labs XS pre amp, a perfect combination for this system. However, tube lovers should take note that the GTA3r’s are 92 db efficient. All wiring was by Triode Wire Labs, both the Synergistic Research Powercell 12 UEF SE and Tranquility Base were in place and the CD was played on the Esoteric K01xs SACD player using the Vu Jade Audio 101DHT DAC.
Legacy Audio with Leesburg Listening Room:
This is probably one of the most product-filled AVShowrooms’ videos produced for the Capital Audiofest 2018. Bryce of Legacy Audio expertly walks us through each system being exhibited leading up to the flagship Legacy Audio loudspeaker, the Legacy Valor, in its debut on the east coast of the United States. The speakers were powered by the Raven Audio Silhouette monoblock amplifiers and the Legacy Wavelet pre amplifier and DAC.
Peter Breuninger played a vocal track on this system by Michel Jonasz and mentions in the video that it is the best sounding Legacy Audio room he’s experienced in all of the years of visiting the owner and founder Bill Dudelston’s exhibit rooms. The vocal was floating in the middle of the room and the system showed off what the Legacy Audio Wavelet preamp/DAC could do by separating the instruments and allowing for perfect imaging. Many thanks to both Dennis of Leesburg Listening Room of Leesburg, Virginia and Bryce of Legacy Audio for delivering one of the best sounding rooms at The Capital Audiofest 2018.
Old Forge Studio:
Dave Cope of Old Forge Studio joined forces with Nellie Davis of Audio Federation to deliver sound that was both organic and detailed at the same time. In its United States debut, Nellie talks in the video about the Acapella La Campanella 2-way loudspeaker, the largest of the Acapella loudspeakers that do not have the plasma tweeter. Also, debuting in North America, were the Pure Audio monoblock amplifier’s, Class A with 70 watts per channel and the Control 2 preamplifier.
Dave talks about the new Wand turntable in detail that plays 33’s, 45’s and, get this, 78’s! The phono preamp was the PureAudio Vinyl. Spinning up a track from Audio Note Music’s “Pure Cello” was a reminder that Vincent Belanger, the cellist on the recording, was in this very exhibit room at a past CAF show. There was his signature sound, no doubt, unobstructed, in a quiet and serene environment thanks to Dave and Nellie. Embracingly beautiful.
The Audio Company/VAC/Von Schweikert Audio:
Without a doubt, The Audio Company of Marietta, Georgia has found its Mojo in the Potomac room at the Hilton Hotel in Rockville, Maryland. After an entire year of anticipation based on my experience at The Capital Audiofest 2017, I have come away with a head-shaking, nobody does it better conclusion. The Von Schweikert Audio ULTRA 11 loudspeakers and the VAC (Valve Amplification Company) bi-amped 450 IQ monoblocks with Masterbuilt cabling gave this listener that enveloping and involving concert-like sound that I’ve come to expect. On Sunday we played a CD and recorded it for the AVShowrooms’ video, a drum and percussive track on the Esoteric Grandioso P1 CD Transport with the G1 Atomic Clock and Esoteric power supply.
The system pressurized the room and the music exploded around us. It was the same track we played at the Saturday night listening session and everyone in the room was pulled into the explosive sonic experience. Tone, tonality, imaging and a palpable gut-wrenching response by the listener is only at this level (I thought) when attending a live event and sitting in the best seats at the venue. This is not supposed to happen with reproduced sound. One vinyl track I was most anxious to play on the Kronos turntable with SCPS was a track from The Franklin Mint Country Music Collection with Merle Haggard and Dolly Parton. The voices were real and the raw presentation of Haggard’s voice combined with the effortless flow of Dolly’s vocals was so apparent it felt as if I could ride the music like a surfer rides a wave. Associated equipment included Critical Mass stands.
Auris Audio, Miki Trosic, Fortissimo Integrated Amplifier, Poison 8 Speakers, ZenSati Cables
Audio Skies, World Premier Larsen Model 9, Pear Audio Blue, GamuT Amplifiers
Bricasti Design, M28, M22, M15, M21, M12, M1, amazing lifelike sound
ESD Acoustic, Huge Carbon Fiber Horn Loudspeakers
Gryphon Audio, Tweak Studio, Gryphon Pantheon speakers, Zena Preamp, Antileon EVO amp, MIT Cables
Legacy Audio, Raven Audio
Modwright Instruments, New PH 9 0 Phonostage, Studio Electric Loudspeakers, Fern and Roby, Innuos
RMAF $5,000 System, sponsored by Gingko Audio, Salk Sound, Dynacable, Peachtree, VPI, Modwright
United Home Audio, UHA Ultima 4 Reel to Reel Tape Deck, Greg Beron
VAC Statement 450i IQ Premiere, Von Schweikert Ultra 9, Masterbuilt Cables, The Audio Company
Von Schweikert Ultra 9 Premiere, VAC Statement 450i IQ, Masterbuilt Cables, The Audio Company
Well Pleased Audio, Innuos Music Server, QLN Speakers, LinnenberG Amplifiers, Aqua DAC, Swisscables
Aaudio Imports, Wilson Benesch Resolution, Ypsilon Electronics, Stage III, Aurender, HB Cable Design
ATC Loudspeakers, Lone Mountain Audio, ATC Hi Fi USA Importer
Audio Arts, Zellaton Legacy speakers, Ensemble Massimo Fuoco, Thoress, Thales, Fuuga
Audio Logic, Sigma Acoustics Loudspeakers, Aavik, DTC Ansuz, Music Tools Stands, Esoteric
Bending Wave USA, Göbel Epoque Aeon Reference, CH Precision
Borresen Acoustics Loudspeakers World Premere, Next Level HiFi
Gated HiFi, Next Level HiFi, Kudos Audio Loudspeakers, NAIM, Aavik, Ansuz, Kudos Titan 505
High End by OZ, Audio Solutions Figaro Loudspeakers, Vitus Amplifier and DAC, Ansuz Acoustics
Lyric Audio Amplfiers and Cables, TI 200 Amplifier North America Premiere, Voxativ Speakers
Nagra HD DAC X, Nagra Electronics, Rockport, Argento Cables, Box Stands
Synergistic Research Galileo SX, Magico Loudspeakers, Constellation Amplifier
Troy Audio, Hellena MKII Speakers, Thrax Amplfiers and DAC, Ana Mighty Phonostage
Troy Audio Room 2, Triode Corp of Japan, Thrax Audio, Schröder CB arm
Verity Audio Monsalvat, High Fidelity Services, TW Acustic, SRA
The Wilson Benesch “Resolution” loudspeakers with the carbon fiber Infrasonic Generator were one of the stars of the show. Aside from the beautiful fit and finish, their performance, along with the Ypsilon electronics, achieved one of the best sounding rooms at RMAF 2018. Brian Ackerman, proprietor of Audio Imports, introduces the U.S. debut of the Ypsilon DAC 1000 and in the upcoming video he talks about the features of this new accomplishment from Ypsilon. Playing a track from Dead Can Dance, Brendan Perry’s voice was in the middle of the room. This sound was coherent and musical with pinpoint imaging and excellent detail. Cabling was Stage III Concepts.
Alsyvox, Omega Audio Concepts:
The Alsyvox 3-way Botticelli full range ribbon loudspeakers were accompanied by electronics from Omega Audio Concepts combining beauty with function. Playing MA Recording’s “Nublado” early in the day on Friday, day 1, drives home the fact that great sound can be achieved early in the show with the right equipment and set-up. Music filled the room and music filled me with emotion. The sound was natural, realistic, fast and tight. The Botticelli’s are also beautiful to behold. I’d love to spend more time with these babies.
Proprietor, Gideon Schwartz showcased the Zellaton’s Legacy stand-mount loudspeakers, a two-way speaker with an 8” proprietary woofer on the back augmenting the 5” Zellaton driver. These little guys filled the room with the larger Zellaton Statement sonic signature; extremely dynamic, with the same speed and liquidity. Other components in the room were the very impressive Ensemble Massimo Fuoco integrated, hybrid amplifier; the Thoress phono stage powering the Thales turntable with their top-of-the-line Statement tonearm and a Fuuga MC cartridge. I encourage our viewers to watch this video with these incredible products brought together to achieve one of the best sounding rooms at RMAF 2018.
Audio Logic Online with Sigma Acoustics:
North American Distributor, Kaveh Saffari, introduces the Sigma Acoustics Orchestra 2.3 loudspeakers for the first time in the United States. The designer, Aldo Zaninello, impressed us with his beautiful Italian design of the speaker, but more importantly with the design of the ribbon tweeter giving the high frequencies room to breathe across the top opening up the soundstage. 90.5 dB, easy to drive – tube amplifier friendly. We played percussive, a human voice track and a vocal track. The sound was open and enveloping at the same time. The instruments had proper space between them and the system brought out the detail and vocals perfectly. Associated equipment; the AAvik U300 amplifier, Ansuz cabling, stands by Music Tools from Italy and an Esoteric Cd player.
Bending Wave USA:
Elliot Goldman, importer and distributor of some of the top brands in high-performance audio, introduced the Goebel Aeon Reference Bending Wave loudspeakers from the Epoque line in its U.S debut. The room featured a vast array of CH Precision electronics including the mono preamplifier, the mono DAC, external power supplies and 2 M1 amplifiers. This system threw a holographic, three dimensional soundstage putting the singer, Michel Jonaz, in the middle of the room. Especially apparent was how the sound of the electric piano popped in the track “Terre”emphasizing its tonality in this already multi-layered sound.
High End by Oz with Audio Solutions Figaro XL:
It gives me much pleasure to introduce Audio Solutions’ Figaro series loudspeakers from Lithuania, debuted and distributed by Ozan Turan in the United States. One of the unique features of these loudspeakers is that the plywood cabinets are not glued; instead, there’s a self-locking mechanism employed to enhance the bass response.
We listened to a track from “Dead Can Dance” and we were both floored that a $15,000 speaker, retail, of this scale, is now available in North America. A more than satisfying low frequency presence and an organic sound in the purist sense with musical involvement that I found to be off-the-charts. As said in the upcoming video, this rave is not to diminish the performance the smaller, Figaro M at $7500, but the added bass response won the AVShowrooms’ Gold Show award for the XL model. This was my take-home, folks, and this at a show I thought had great sound in so many rooms. The Figaro XL rivaled loudspeakers at the show 10X the price on most every level. The speakers were powered by the Vitus class A integrated amplifier and cabling was by Ansuz.
We were fortunate enough to be introduced to the new HD DAC X. In the upcoming show video, Rene Laflamme will explain how much work was done to achieve the end product with optimal results. Our first round of listening was a female vocalist and honestly, I looked twice because I thought Rene was playing tape. The sound was about as close to analogue I’ve heard a CD sound at an audio show. After the song was over, Peter Breuninger commented the same. Quite an accomplishment. Next, Rene played us a jazz piece on tape that was sonically satisfying but the standout was the new DAC. Overall, the sound was effortless with very good tonal quality. Loudspeakers were Rockport’s Cygnus and cabling was Argento Audio. Of course, all of the electronics were Nagra.
Next Level Hi-Fi with Borreson, Aavik and Ansuz:
A debut in the United States by Next Level Hi-Fi in Wayne, Illinois. The Borreson 03 loudspeakers have arrived and meet the exacting standards of their designer, Michael Borreson. Michael painstakingly walks us through his journey to his end creation. The AVShowrooms’ video will delight Borreson fans when he explains in detail the new drivers, the new ribbon tweeter and the new magnet system, along with his concept of the project from beginning to end. We played two male vocal tracks with the C150 Ansuz amplifier powering the speakers. The system was extremely quiet. There was no noise floor. It was organic and detailed without any harshness and delivered music with emotional involvement. The system included the Ansuz DT-C, top-of-the-line cabling with the Mainz 8 Power Distributor, the Ansuz equipment rack and new P150 stereo amplifier.
Michael Vamos, Sales Representative for both Raidho and Scansonic loudspeakers, treated us to one of the biggest surprises at RMAF 2018. Just as I was wrapping up my notes for Reviewers’ View I settled back for a listen. We played Roger Waters “It’s a Miracle” on the Scansonic MB5B and the bass and imaging were that of speakers three times the size. “Giant Killers” was what Michael called them. These slim, little 2.5 way floorstanders will disappear in any size room and they are front-ported giving the listener the ability to move them closer to the wall. The Raidho DNA was apparent, but for a fraction of the price. How about $7500? Anyway, how could I resist adding the Scansonic to my list for the show wrap-up?
We were introduced to new SR products at RMAF 2018 including the Galileo SX Cables. These new cables were developed incorporating the technology from the Synergistic Research program that resulted in the all-silver 25th Anniversary SR power cord. The AVShowrooms’ video will have Ted Denny talking about the components in the system. We played a beautiful version of the “Intermezzo from Carmen” by The All Star Orchestra and were treated to Ted Denney’s demo with the SR technology turned on and off. As promised, with the SR technology turned on, the sound had more clarity and musicality, better resolution and superior imaging. With the SR technology turned off, the sound collapsed and fell into itself. Ever raising the bar, the Synergistic Research team had one of the best sounding rooms at RMAF 2018. Look for the voluntary third-party endorsement by a show attendee in the AVShowrooms’ video.
VAC/Von Schweickert – The Audio Company:
Once again, it is difficult to find words to properly describe the concert-like experience both Valve Amplification Company and Von Schweikert Audio bring to the listener. The new Ultra 9 loudspeakers incorporating their technology from their development of the Ultra 11’s will be the focus of an upcoming AVShowrooms’ video interview with both Damon Von Schweikert and Leif Swanson of Von Schweikert Audio explaining their journey, and the technology that resulted in the end product. Kevin Hayes, in his own video, does an outstanding job of showcasing his new Statement 450i IQ Integrated amplifier and explaining to the viewers how it took three years to bring the Statement technology to an integrated amplifier.
The new integrated is so fast and quiet, unlike any tube integrated I’ve come across at any audio show. Truly a masterpiece in its category. And, speaking of masterpieces, the Ultra 9’s are the perfect loudspeakers to be paired with the Statement 450i IQ integrated. The sound of the “Song of the Stars” track from Dead Can Dance had imaging, tone, impact, micro dynamics and macro dynamics far superior than any other room I heard at the show, or any show for that matter. Peter Breuninger mentions in the video that it is the best; however, only to possibly be exceeded in performance in the exhibit room at The Capital Audiofest 2017 with the Ultra 11’s, Von Schweikert’s flagship, and the bi-amped 450 IQ monoblocks. We played vinyl on the Kronos Audio turntable with the SCPS. Cabling by MasterBuilt Audio ULTRA and stands were Critical Mass. The Digital stack included the transport and DAC by Esoteric.
Paul Manos of High Fidelity Services and Julian Pelchat of Verity Audio astounded and delighted us with a system worth over 1 million U.S. dollars. The loudspeakers showing were the Monsalvat’s accompanied by two woofer towers using the walls as a horn. The vinyl played was Dead Can Dance’s “Song of the Stars” and the sound came at you and around you in a phase coherent, radiating pattern. The Verity woofer tower and the main tower were perfectly time aligned and the power amplifiers from Verity were a surprising 60 watts per channel. “Power doesn’t mean much” said Julian (more about this on the upcoming video), had me scratching my head, but the truth was in the listen. Easily, one of the best sounding systems at the show. Associated equipment included Verity DAC/Preamp, TW Acoustics turntable with an Ortofon cartridge, Signal Projects cabling and Vibex power conditioning.
Absolare hybrid monoblocks, Kronos, Rockport
Arcadian Audio, AER Loudspeakers, Charlin, Crystal Cable, RoboliDesign
ATOHM Loudspeakers and Electronics, GREAT SOUND
Avid Hifi Loudspeakers, Electronics and Turntables
ELROG Tubes, Azzolina Audio, Vinylsavor, Deutsche Elektronenrohren Manufaktur
Living Voice VOX OLYMPIAN & VOX ELYSIAN
McIntosh Audio, Blue Meters, MAC Amplifiers, McIntosh Group
Transrotor turntables and tonearms, SME turntables and tonearms
Verity Audio, Audia Flight, Cardas Audio Quadraspire
Western Electric and Silbatone Acoustics
YG Acoustics, Sonya 2 2, Nagra HD Amplfiers
Kharma International, Enigma Veyron Loudspeakers, Veyron Amplifiers, Veyron Cables and Audio Racks
Kharma International, Charles Van Oosterum shows speakers, amplifiers, cables
Kharma Midi Grand Exquisite loudspeakers, Lamm Industries
Kharma Enigma Veyron EV2
Kharma, Lamm Industires
Kharma International Audio products, new EV 2 speakers
Kharma Exquisite Classique
Kharma Exquisite Midi Grand
Kharma Exquisite Midi Grand
Kharma, Elegance Line Loudspeakers
Kharma Audio, worlds best audio equipment.. a top ten
Kharma Audio, Kharma Loudspeakers, Kharma Elegance, Charles van Oosterum
Adirondack Audio Review, Listening Sessions, Auris Audio Amplifier, Triangle Audio Speakers, Kimber Kable
Zanden Model 8120 Amplifier, Zanden Model 3100 Linestage
Zanden Model 120 Phonostage
The Showcase Tour Begins
Aaudio Imports, Wilson Benesch speakers, Ypsilon Amplifiers, Thales, Stage III, RMAF 2017
Aaudio Imports, Wilson Benesch, HB Cable Design, Stage III cables, Ypsilon amplifiers, Thales LAAS
Aaudio Imports, Wilson Benesch Discovery II speakers, Thales, Ypsilon, Stage III, HB Cable Designs
Wilson Benesch Joins Aaudio Imports
New products from Audio Imports
Three State-of-the-art Listening Studios:Listening Studio Number One
Listening Studio Number Two
Listening Studio Number Three
Ypsilon SET 100 Ultimate
Ypsilon Aelius Amplifier
Ypsilon PST 100 MKII
Ypsilon DAC 100 Stereo Valve DtoA Converter
Ypsilon CDT 100 CD Transport, CD Player
Ypsilon VPS 100 Phono Stage
HB Cable Designs
Power Distribution Systems:HB Cable Design PowerStar Horizon
HB Cable Design PowerSlave Acrylic
HB Cable Design PowerSlave Marble
Apurna, $200,000 amplifiers from France, the Worlds Most Beautiful Amplifiers, Focal
Audio Hungary, Qualiton Q40s, Loudspeakers, A50i Integrated Amp
Focal Loudspeakers, Grande Utopia EM EVO, Naim Audio
Gauder Akustik DARC Speakers, Western Electric, Vicoustic, Westend Audio Systems
Gold Note Turntables from Italy, the Italian Music Experience
Grandinote, Amplifiers and Mach Loudspeakers, Luna Cables
Metaxas Audio Systems, Kostas Metaxas
MSB Technology, SGR Audio, Synergistic Research, with Frank Vermeylen
Nagra Museum, The History Of Nagra Audio
Odeon Audio, NAT Audio, Schnerzinger Cables, Reed Turntables
Thrax Lyra and Basus Speakers, Thrax Ares, EnKlein Cables, Dohmann Helix Turntable, Schröder Tonearm
Vitus Audio, Marten Mingus 20, Dohmann Helix 2, Schröder Tonearm, Purist Audio Design
YG Acoustics, Playback Designs, Nagra, Kubala Sosna
Etsuro Urushi Bordeaux Moving Coil Cartridge Review and Listening Comparisons
Believe High Fidelity, Aries Cerat audio system
Believe High Fidelity, Aries Cerat reference audio system
Audionet Stern, Heisenberg, Planck, Dynaudio Evidence Temptation Platinum, Award Winner
Dynaudio, Highend Munich
Goebel Highend Divin Majestic, Kronos Complete Analogue Solution Turntable, CH Precision
Innuos, Zenmini, ZEN, Zenith, Zenith SE, Zenith Statement, Kii Three BXT
Kharma International, Enigma Veyron Loudspeakers, Veyron Amplifiers, Veyron Cables and Audio Racks
Nagra, New HD DSD DAC, Wilson Alexia 2 Speakers, Kronos Turntable, Modulum Platforms, Kubala Sosna
Octave Audio, Transrotor Tourbillon Turntable, B&W Loudspeakers
Purist Audio Design, Goebel Epoque Aeon Reference, Vitus Audio GIANT AMP
Raidho Acoustics, new TD 4 8 Loudspeaker, Chord Electronics, Nordost Cables, Award Winner
Stein Music Top Line Loudspeakers, Amplifiers, Tonearms, Phono Cartridges
Valve Amplification Company, Von Schweikert, Acoustic Signature Invictus, Masterbuilt Cables, Esoteric
Voxativ Loudspeakers, Voxativ Ampeggio X, 9 87 System, Zeth, Ampeggio Due, Ampeggio Preamp and Amps
Zellaton Loudspeakers, Schnerzinger Cables & Protectors, Reed Turntable, YS Sound, Artesania, DS Audio
Nagra Audio Classic Line Review, Pt. 1 Introduction with Rene Laflamme
Nagra Audio Classic Line Review, Pt. 2 Listening Sessions, Holst Planets, Frédéric Alarie Trio
Nagra Audio Classic Line Review, Pt. 3 Reviewer Conclusions, A worlds greatest audio System!
I looked forward to going into the Audionet room for listening fully aware that the Audionet Stern, preamp and Heisenberg power amplifiers were in place. No surprise, the sound delivered in the room was that big and effortless sound I now come to expect from these top-of-the-line electronics. We played a track from a “Yello” CD and a track from our Michel Jonasz CD. The music wrapped itself around the listener and the bass on both tracks was deep and well integrated. I don’t know of a finer solid state line. The source was the Audionet Planck with the Art G3 D/A Converter. The outstanding Dynaudio Evidence Temptation Platinum speakers were a perfect match for the Heisenbergs.
This year, Oliver Goebel surprised many of us with a completely new line of loudspeakers called the “Divin Series”. The Divin Series “Majestic”, the largest loudspeaker in the line, debuted at the High End 2018. The new line is offered to the most discerning listener who is looking for high efficiency in a large space. Tube lovers take note! Although the new series is seemingly more of a conventional design, Oliver mentions in the AVShowrooms video that his bending wave circuit technology is applied to the Devin series.
The source, again this year, is the Kronos Pro turntable with the SCPS and the Kronos phonostage and power supply. There has been an evolution with The Kronos Analogue Solution and the phonostage is now a suspended unit using the SCPS as the base. Louis Dejardins explains in the AVShowrooms’ video what he strived for and what he has achieved; that is, a more realistic and larger soundstage with more stability. The tonearm was the Black Beauty.
Having listened to a number of tracks in this room over the weekend, I can say with conviction this was one of the best sounds at the High End 2018. The Sound was big, warm and enveloping. It was multi-layered and what I would call a romantic sound. Cabling was the Goebel Lacorde Statement Series and electronics were by CH Precision.
This year at the MOC, Nuno Vitorino, Director at Innuos walks us through a static display of the new Zen MK.III music servers. The display includes the ZENMINI MK.III with more storage options than the MK.II version and an optional linear power supply, the ZEN which now benefits from a double linear power supply, and the ZENITH. Nuno explains in detail the upgrades and improvements developed for the MK.III series.
Also in the video, is the listening session and an in depth description of the new ZENITH STATEMENT with a separate box for A/C to D/C conversion. Innuos’ unique approach to design for optimal sound is what I found most interesting in this presentation and I encourage viewers to check out the AVShowrooms’ video to learn what I have about the new ZENITH STATEMENT.
In conjunction with the new KII Three BXT System, the sound produced, on a track from the Michel Jonasz CD, was extremely fast, quiet, clean and accurate, and at the same time, musical and emotionally involving. Truly, the best sounding Cabin I visited at the MOC and one of the best sounding rooms at High End Munich 2018.
The iconic Kharma brand brought its usual big, majestic and concert-like sound to their exhibit room at the MOC. What immediately struck me was how quiet the room was relative to every other room I’d visited. This, of course, is attributed to the acoustic treatment the “Second Wave” and the wall fabrics. Charles van Oosterum, founder of Kharma International, talks about these treatments in the AVShowrooms’ video along with the equipment in the room.
Kharma was exhibiting with the new Enigma Vyron EV 4D loudspeakers with diamond tweeter and midrange. The monoblock amplifiers were also from the Vyron line as were the cables. I’ll add that the new cables are very impressive; the outside is a leather jacket with the Kharma pattern contributing to the overall beauty of the room. Electronics were also Kharma and we played track “Song of the Stars” from the LP “Spirit Chaser” on the Clearaudio Statement turntable.
The sound and beauty of the Kharma room was so immersive, I wanted to hang around for the rest of the day! Timbre and fine detail were on point along with natural decay.
This year at High End Munich, Rene Laflamme introduces the new Nagra DSD 4 HD DAC. Another beautiful looking piece in the Nagra lineup. We played a track by Holly Cole and were impressed with the very quiet analogue-like sound. Holly’s voice was clear and the spatiality of the instruments were spot-on. No doubt, another great sounding room assembled by the Nagra team. Don’t miss the upcoming AVShowrooms’ video with Rene explaining the new DAC in detail followed by a walk around the Nagra Museum.
The loudspeakers were the Wilson Alexia 2’s with the Nagra HD amplifiers and pre-amp and the Nagra T tapedeck. On the front end the DSD4 and the Kronos Pro turntable with power supply, Black Beauty tonearm and an EMT 75 cartridge. Cabling by Kubala-Sosna.
Purist Audio Design:
One of the audio industry’s luminaries, Jim Aud of Purist Audio Design talked about the new USB Diamond Revision, a new AC box with six outlets and for MAC users a USB C to A. A Vitus amplifier requiring 3 AC power chords, dominated the center of the room and the loudspeakers were the Goebel Epoque Aeon Reference. “Song of the Stars”, one of our reference recordings at the shows, this year, was sounding detailed without any harshness, perfectly integrated and most importantly, emotionally engaging. All cabling was the top-of-the-line from Purist, of course.
Showing at the High End 2018 were the new TD-4.8 loudspeakers with the Raidho Tantalum-Diamond cone. The new technology is a thin overlay of the heavy alloy, tantalum, applied to the ceramic cones before the diamond layer. We played a track from the “Frederic Alarie Trio” CD and the system produced a natural, realistic sound with zero distortion. And, wasn’t there a touch of that gamuT-sound in the mids? Whatever the case, the new technology was evident combining accuracy with emotionally engaging musicality.
One of the best sounding rooms at the MOC, this year. The sound was three dimensional and hauntingly beautiful. All electronics were Chord and the cabling was the Nordost Vahalla 2 line.
VAC/Von Schweikert/Acoustic Signature:
Kevin Hayes of Valve Amplification Company (VAC), Leif Swanson of Von Schweikert and Gordon Waters of The Audio Company walked us through the exhibit room and, as you will see on the upcoming video, there is a great deal to show, explain and discuss. Leif talks about the redesign and re-engineering of the Ultra 11 flagship loudspeakers bringing the already incomparable to another level. Kevin proudly shows us the brilliant VAC Statement 450 iQ monoblocks, bi-amped for optimal performance. There is so much to know about the VAC Statement series and we’ve captured it on video.
Again using our reference LP, “Dead Can Dance” album Spiritchaser we played “Song of the Stars”. The instruments and voices were layered in the room giving us the best frequency response from top to bottom we’d experienced at the show. Realistic and spatial with both macro and micro dynamics, it’s difficult to believe that what we heard at The Capital Audiofest and AXPONA could be improved upon, but it was. All flourish aside, a cost-no-object system like no other I’ve heard, ever, anywhere. I left the room recharged with reaffirmation as to why I do what I do.
The turntable was the Acoustic Signature Invictus with a VAC phonostage; digital source, Esoteric. The cables were the MasterBuilt Ultra line. Artesenia racks from Spain combined beauty with function, as Gordon and Kevin detail on camera.
It was a very exciting time for us and the Voxativ team this year at High End Munich. Voxativ was celebrating its 10 years with the new Ampeggio X loudspeaker powered with a field coil driver and a power supply with 10 rectifier tubes fully adjustable from 10 to 20 volts. The new integrated amplifier introduced was the T805, single-ended with 30 watts per channel. The AVShowrooms’ video shows Holger Adler, owner and designer, explaining his new products, including a new rack system, in detail.
Of course, the sound is what matters most and Voxativ is a hands-down AVShowrooms’ Gold Show Award winner. We played a beautiful track introduced to us by Holger and we’ll share that listening session with our viewers. The sound was very realistic and pure with breathtaking impact. We look forward to listening to these loudspeakers in our home environment this year.
YG Acoustics/Playback Design/Nagra/Kubala-Sosna:
Tucked away in one of the cabins at the High End Munich 2018 were the YG Hailey’s with Nagra HD amplifiers. The source was Playback Design’s MPS 8 Player, Streamer with a PD DAC. We played our Michel Jonasz CD and the sound was believable, realistic and without any bass overhang. This was a combination that really worked well together and prevailed over the noise in the Halles at the Munich Order Center. Cabling by Kubala-Sosna.
The Zellaton 3-way loudspeaker delivered “Song of the Stars” effortlessly, filling the room with one of the best playbacks at the Munich High End 2018. The lateral imaging, with pinpoint precision, was everywhere in the room with instruments and vocals properly placed and separated. The YS Sound amplifiers and preamplifier were such a perfect pairing with the Zellaton’s I’d probably look no further than this room of exceptional components if I was in the market to purchase these extraordinary speakers.
The turntable was a Reed Muse 3C with the new Reed 5 T tonearm, cabling was from Schnerzinger and the beautiful and functional racks from Artesania. Pure music for the most discerning listener
Audiogears, Vintage, Resto Mods, Carbon Fiber Turntable, Stunning Equipment
Bayz Audio, Bay Radial Loudspeaker, Revolutionary “Curante” Full Range Speaker
FM Acoustics and Vertere Acoustics RG 1 Turntable
Fyne Audio, Beautiful Loudspeakers with exceptional Sound
JMF Audio, Electronics and Horn Loudspeakers by Laurent and Arnaud Fusilier
John Watkinson Loudspeaker, 432EVO, Antelope Audio
Kii Audio, Kii Three BXT System, new bass modules, hifideluxe
Klimo Amplifiers, TAFELRUNDE Turntable
M8Audio Loudspeakers, Sweet Maxwell, Mal Valve, hifideluxe
ROHM Semiconductors, MBL Loudspeakers and Amplifiers, Tellurium Q Cables
Spirit Soundesign, Headphones Made in Italy, hifideluxe
TAD Audio Vertrieb, Rega Turntables, Unison Research, Ruark Audio, Opera, Tannoy, Geneva Lab
Totaldac, Holton Precision Audio, Soulsonic, Tellurium Q