Reviewers View, Florida Audio Expo 2020, AVShowrooms Show Highlights
Exhibiting with the SRC-1 loudspeaker driven by the VAC Statement 450 iQ monoblocks, Val Cora walks us through his very impressive system for the AVShowrooms’ video. We played a track called “Earth Drums” on the digital front end to prove what a speaker made from granite can do. The sound was detailed with lightning-fast transient response and perfect bass integration. Associated equipment included a Transrotor turntable and a VAC Master Preamp with phonostage. Cables by Cardas.
Jerred Dunkerson walks us through the system and introduces a groundbreaking product designed by Jim Fosgate, the Fusion F360 preamplifier. In the AVShowrooms’ video Jerred performs an A/B test and first we hear Anette Askvik’s track, “Liberty” without any EQ. The exhibit room had no treatment and a good deal of slap-echo was apparent. Next, we played the identical track with the EQ and there was no echo. The soundstage opened up with improved bass integration and live-sounding tonality.
Classic Audio, Purist Audio Design:
John Wolff gives us a room walk-around naming the components including the Classic Audio T3 loudspeakers. Also, something new from Purist Audio Design, Jim Aud talks about the Corvus Diamond A/C chord connected to the preamplifier and the Corvus Diamond balanced cable for the reel to reel. We debuted “Killing me Softly” from Anne Bisson’s latest album “Keys to my Heart” on LP. The system delivered a huge soundstage with detailed and delicate vocals along with excellent tone. No shout, whatsoever. Amplification by Atma-Sphere.
Daedalus, Lampizator and Wywires:
There is no doubt that this trio makes beautiful music together, but joining forces with the VAC (Valve Amplification Company) Statement 450i IQ integrated amplifier is a game changer. This room had everything. Atmosphere, unrivaled reverb, dynamics and pinpoint imaging. Dead Can Dance’s Lisa Gerrard’s voice filled the room when playing the track “The Wind that Shakes the Barley”.
High End by Oz, United Home Audio:
Ozan Turan, proprietor, debuts the new Audio Solutions Virtuoso S loudspeakers. The associated equipment included United Home Audio’s Ultima 4 tape deck with the proprietary tape head, Vitus Audio electronics and Synergistic Research cabling. The system delivered atmospheric information from the track “The Carnival is Over” from Dead can Dance’s “Into the Labyrinth” encompassing the room. The sound was rich and vivid with standout imaging.
High Fidelity Cables:
Playing “Robots” from Kraftwerk is always exciting, but listening to it on the High Fidelity Cables system at the Florida Audio Expo 2020 was extraordinary. The system delivered phenomenal imaging with major impact. Holographic, atmospheric and nothing less than mind-blowing.
House of Stereo:
Joe Parvey, proprietor of House of Stereo and Wolf Audio Systems, joins forces with John McGurk of Audioshield introducing stellar new audio equipment to AVShowrooms’ viewers and show attendees.
Most impressive was the new Wolf Audio Systems new server, the Alpha 3SX. Joe gives us a full description of how the server works and its extensive technology. Another great discovery was the Credo 3-way loudspeaker from Switzerland. We streamed Anette Askvik’s track “Liberty” and the sound delivered was atmospheric, dead quiet without any digital artifacts, and with brilliant tone. The best I’ve heard this recording, anywhere, ever. A great sounding room; one to be coveted. Included in the room were the EMMLabs electronics, VPI turntable with a van den Hul cartridge and van den Hul cabling.
Bill Dudleston, proprietor of Legacy Audio, talks all about his latest technology in the new i.V7 amplifier and explains the advantages of the Wavelet processor. We played the track “Robots” from the Kraftwerk CD on the Aeris loudspeakers and were treated to perfect bass impact and incredible imaging and spatiality.
Spatial Audio, Linear Tube Audio:
Hands down, one of the best sounding exhibit rooms at the Florida Audio Expo 2020. Clayton Shaw introduces his new 2 ½ way, open baffle loudspeaker, the M3 Sapphire. The Loudspeakers were driven by LTA’s (Linear Tube Audio) new Z10 integrated tube amplifier. What a great combination. The track we played was “Ain’t No Sunshine” by Tracy Chapman and Buddy Guy and the sound was explosive, detailed yet warm with lots of punch. Overall, musical believably as if in the best seat at a concert. Associated equipment included Lampizator and Anticables, cabling.
Ted Denney, Proprietor, struts his stuff with another successful A/B test. This time with his new MiG SX footers for beneath your audio components employing UEF technology and more as you’ll see on the AVShowrooms’ video. We played the track “Song of the Stars” from Dead Can Dance. There was no doubt that with footers in place the sound stage opened up, imaging and layering were quite apparent and the detail and musicality were in full bloom. And, viewers, check out the new UEF record weight.
VAC/Von Schweikert – The Audio Company:
What a treat to listen in this room to Michel Jonasz on CD. The system delivered mind-blowing dynamics and pinpoint, holographic imaging. Included in the room were the Von Schweikert Ultra-11 loudspeakers, Valve Amplification Company’s (VAC) 452 iQ monoblocks, the Critical Mass top-of-the-line Olympus V-12 rack and Maxxum stand, Masterbuilt Ultra cables, Kronos turntable with the Black Beauty tonearm and Aurender and Esoteric electronics. The sound was concert-like with amazing dynamic range and impact.
Playing a track from Bruce Springsteen’s “Western Stars” album in the Acora Acoustics room gave us a deep, three-dimensional sound. The palpable grittiness and growl of Bruce’s voice was encapsulating as the solid granite Acora SRC1 loudspeakers pressurized the room. The bass was effortlessly natural with a deep soundstage. Bruce’s voice was articulate without sacrificing any of the warmth. Associated equipment were the Esoteric and Audio Research electronics.
Backert Labs, Soundstage Audio:
Andy Tebbe of Backert Labs waxes so enthusiastically when describing products in his exhibit room, I couldn’t wait to take a listen. Well, listen we did to David Bowie’s LP track, “Lazarus” and the sound was realistic and full of information in a non-fatiguing way. Truly, one of the very best sounding rooms at The Capital Audiofest 2020. Andy also talks in the AVshowrooms’ video about his room’s improvement thanks to Rick Shultz’s High Fidelity Cables’ loom and power strip. Andy also describes in the video his very own Backert Labs’ preamplifier with Teflon capacitors in the power supply and more. The speakers were from Rosso Fiorentino, the turntable was Acoustic Signature and the power amplifier, also from High Fidelity Cables, was the M1. Platforms and stands from Soundstage Audio.
Black Ice Audio by Jolida:
One of the biggest surprises at Capital Audiofest 2019 was the Black Ice headphone amplifier incorporating Jim Fosgate’s technology. You could adjust everything from the surround sound to the EQ; the bass and sub-bass. Peter B. listened to a track from Kraftwerk, and by his expression alone, I could tell he was extremely impressed. He said that he was getting concert level sound that he had never experienced before with a pair of headphones.
ESD Acoustics with United Home Audio:
David Dai of ESD Acoustics and Greg Beron of United Home Audio give a detailed walk-through touching on each component in the room. The ESD “Crane” carbon fiber, horn loudspeakers were driven by Aesthetix electronics and the front end was the United Home Audio Ultima 4 tape deck with the outboard power supply. We played a beautiful recording by Ed Pong featuring violin and piano and the sound was natural, effortless, detailed and, most importantly, emotionally involving. As good as it gets. The cables were Synergistic Research and Greg explains in the AVShowrooms’ video why he favors SR.
GT Audioworks/Sound Insight:
GT Audioworks continues to get some of the best sound, year after year. This year at Capital Audiofest 2019, we opted to spin the Dead Can Dance lp Spiritchaser; specifically, the track “Song of the Stars” on the Basis Audio turntable with the Basis Audio tonearm. The lateral imaging was off the charts, the sound was detailed with impact, dynamics and low-end slam. Of course, the Pass lab monoblocks driving the speakers had a lot to do with the overall presentation. Included in the room was the Mosart Cabinet, Esoteric and the Innuous server. All wiring was by Triode Wire Labs.
The Audionet Humboldt Integrated amplifier made its world premiere in Bill Parish’s GTT Audio room at the Capital Audiofest 2019. We played the track “Song of the Stars” from the LP, “Spiritchaser” with the YG Acoustics’ Carmel 2 loudspeakers delivering, in my experience of this much played track, an unprecedented amount of information with lots of spatiality, spot-on phase delivery and an enormous soundstage. Of course, every component in the room makes for an exceptional sounding room. The turntable was the Kronos Sparta with the new power supply, the DAC was the Mola Mola Tambaqui and all cables were Kubala-Sosna.
Klaus Bunge, proprietor, continues to impress with his affordable audio. However, this year at Capital Audiofest 2019, he has raised the bar to equal and exceed the sound of rooms with equipment costing 10 to 20 times more. We played “Song of the Stars” on the VPI turntable and the system delivered a layered bass, huge soundstage and brilliant image density. Cabling by Magnan Cables.
What’s old is new again. The restored Quad 57 loudspeakers driven by Butler amplifiers gave us music without any artifacts. Anne Bisson/Vincent Belanger’s “Fly Away” from the album “Conversations” never sounded this good to me and its an album I play over and over. Anne’s voice was in the middle of the room and the entire sound wrapped itself around me as if an embrace. Perfect transient response and outstanding dynamic range, Robyatt Audio was my takeaway room at the show.
Spatial Audio, Linear Tube Audio and Lampizator.
Clayton Shaw of Spatial Audio debuts the M3 Sapphire loudspeaker and talks in detail about his new product in the AVShowrooms’ video. Also, Fred Ainsley, describes the new Lampizator Amber 3 DAC that includes technology from its pricier siblings. Mark Schneider, founder of Linear Tube Audio, impresses us with the Integrated Z10 amplifier that includes a David Berning-designed preamplifier. This entire system is just under $10,000 and punches way beyond that price point and I mean way beyond. This is one of the best systems I’ve heard at a show this year. We played a track from Musica Nuda and the bass was perfectly natural and perfectly integrated with the rest of the frequency response. Lightning-fast transient response delivered a natural and emotionally engaging sound. Audience Audio supplied the power conditioner and cabling was by Anticable. Innuos was the server.
The Audio Company, VAC/VonSchweikert:
The Capital Audiofest might be just another show without the spectacle The Audio Company brings to the festival. This year, Kevin Hayes of Valve Amplification Company (VAC) debuts his Statement 452 Musicbloc amplifiers continuing on with his vertical format design. Kevin explains in detail, in the AVShowrooms’ video, his design and design philosophy. It was apparent to this listener that the overall sound in the room was elevated by a giant leap the first time I stepped into the room because of the amplification.
Another bonus in the video is Leif Swanson and Damon Von Schweikert of Von Schweikert Audio describing every aspect of the design of the Ultra 11 loudspeakers. The racks and platforms are by Critical Mass, the turntable was the Kronos Pro with the SCPS, the electronics, including a newly redeveloped transport, Esoteric and the cables were Masterbuilt. We played a live track from Michel Jonasz on Sunday and the soundstage filled the room. As always, The Audio Company delivered a holographic, realistic, detailed presentation as if we were at the concert.
Bending Wave USA:
This system was like liquid gold. We played a live Michel Jonasz track and the sound was delicate, detailed and organic with information in the lower frequencies I’ve not heard on this piece of music before. The loudspeakers were the Goebel High End “Divin Noblesse”, the electronics were by CH Precision and the source was the Kronos Pro turntable with the Super Capacitor Power Supply. Cabling also by Goebel High End.
The debut of the Phoenix USB Reclocker was a resounding success as Nuno Vitorino did an A/B test with the Phoenix connected to the Innuos Zenith Mk3, then removed. You’ll get to listen to the comparison on the upcoming AVShowrooms’ video. An organic and emotionally involving Lisa Gerrard’s “Wind that Shakes the Barley” was hauntingly beautiful without engaging the PhoenixUSB Reclocker; however, there were very noticeable sonic improvements when the reclocker was connected. The soundstage opened up, Lisa’s voice had more space and air around it with added dimension. The loudspeakers were the YG Acoustics “Vantage” with Boulder and Ayre Acoustics amplification. My take-home fantasy, for sure.
Next Level HiFi:
Tyler Mueller, proprietor of Next Level HiFi along with Lars Kristensen of Aavik/Ansuz delivered one of the best sounding exhibit rooms, I had the pleasure visiting at RMAF 2019. Debuting, was the U380 Aavik integrated amplifier that includes 2 DACS and a phonostage. The amplifier was significantly more organic sounding than the U300 without sacrificing any of the detail. The loudspeakers, the Borresen .01 standmounts, the smallest LS in the Borresen lineup was set up in the largest exhibit room at the show. This brave and aggressive experiment was a resounding success. Tyler proved that these little guys could fill a big room with concert level sound, effortlessly. We played two female vocal tracks, “All about You” and “Liberty”; the voices were hanging in space in the center of the room and the sound was enhanced by the large space.
Benno and Ronnie of Raidho Acoustics debuted the new TD2.2 loudspeaker with new, in-house made drivers. Benno’s goal to create a small floorstander with the sound of a speaker twice the size was achieved and the result far exceeded my expectation. We played the track “Human” by Vanessa Fernandez on a VPI turntable and the sound was dynamic, fast and organic with a huge soundstage. Electronics were the Sim Audio “Moon” line and cabling was by Nordost.
Chief Designer, Ted Denney, introduced several new SR products including his new UEF Cable Risers with incorporated HFT technology. In the upcoming AVShowrooms’ video Ted performs an A/B test with the cable risers in and with them out. We played and track from a Vanessa Fernandez album and clearly, when the cables were not utilized, the soundstage collapsed and the transients disappeared. The equipment in the room included the Magico M2 loudspeakers, United Home Audio Tape Deck, Gryphon electronics and an Acoustic Signature turntable.
Cream rises to the top, once again, thanks to the Tekton team. Eric Alexander introduced his new MOAB loudspeaker that delivered sound over 10 times its price point. Combined with Parasound electronics, including the new “New Classic 200” integrated talked about by Phil Jackson of Parasound, the track from “Dead Can Dance” gave us sound that was natural, detailed, non-fatiguing with outstanding bass response. Don’t miss the AVShowrooms’ video where an unsolicited third-party waxes poetically about his listening experience.
The team from Troy Audio proudly exhibited with the majestic Hellena MKII loudspeakers with their outboard crossover. Great Plains Audio makes the alnico coaxial driver and the alnico horn super tweeter. When spinning the track “I Want You” by Vanessa Fernandez from the Groove Note label, the speakers delivered deep bass, good image density and a broad soundstage. We also listened to a drum track with very good transient attack. Associated equipment was the T.G Shroeder turntable, Thrax amplification and Zonotone cables from Japan. The Hellena IIs are Peter Breuninger’s favorite high efficiency speakers.
Well Pleased A/V:
Once again, Mark Sossa, proprietor of Well Please A/V had one of the best sounding rooms at a show. No small feat as there were many very good sounding rooms in the North Tower of the Gaylord Rockies. Also, no surprise that the new Vinnie Rossi L2i-SE integrated amplifer was magical and, as usual with Vinnie’s electronics, dead quiet. Vinnie explains in the AVShowrooms’ video the cornucopia of features in his new design including Stillpoints technology.
Also, contributing to great sound were the Qln Prestige Three loudspeakers from Sweden with a drop-dead gorgeous burl walnut finish and the Innuos Statement Music Server. We played a track called “Liberty” by Anette Askvik and the sound was detailed, effortless and so emotionally involving that I lost myself, for the duration of the song, into the music. A shout-out to the associated equipment including Swisscables, GigaWatt power conditioning, and an SGR equipment rack.