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.
Audio Solutions featured its Virtuosso loudspeakers driven by Vitus Audio electronics. We both were so taken, once again, with the sound that the Audio Solutions’ speakers deliver, we played three tracks instead of the usual one. First, Kraftwerk – a great deal of impact and imaging. The second track was “Agnus Dei” from the Chasing the Dragon CD. The soprano’s voice was suspended in air between the speakers and you could hear the mechanics of the organ. Utterly captivating. And, the third was a drum track that rendered so realistic, it was as if the performance was live. Excellent on every level.
The new CEO, Stefan Schwehr, introduced the world debut of the Humboldt, integrated amplifier which contains all of the superb technology of the Heisenberg monoblock amplifiers and the Stern preamplifier. Truly a state of the art piece of machinery bringing us the music with that signature Audionet sound. Playing Kraftwerk’s “Radioactivity”, the room was filled with holographic imaging, delivered effortlessly, unravelling the layers in the track with ease. The sound was musical with excellent tone and detail. The pinnacle of solid state amplification. Loudspeakers were Dynaudio.
Borresen, Aavik, Ansuz:
Listening to the 01 Borresen loudspeaker further drives home the ability of the highly talented designer, Michael Borresen. We played Kraftwerk’s “We are the Robots” and the bass on these little speakers was deep and powerful. The sound filled the cabin with layers and textures. Electronics were Aavik and the cabling, Ansuz.
Critical Mass Systems, Soulution with Magico:
Cyril from Soulution introduced the system and Joe from Critical Mass gave us detailed product overview for the AVShowrooms’ video. The Magico loudspeakers were the M6. We played a track from a Michel Jonasz LP on the De Baer “Saphir” turntable from Switzerland and the sound was pure liquid gold. Spot-on micro detail and deep reaching bass.
Goebel High End:
Oliver showcased the Divin Noblesse loudspeakers and explains in the AVShowrooms’ video, the differences and similarities to the Divin Majestic. Again, this year, The Analogue Solution from Kronos was the front end and we played the track “I Want You” from Groove Notes’ new Vanessa Fernandez album and the room was dead quiet allowing for every bit of information to be extracted from the LP. A world class system and the best Goebel exhibit room we’ve heard at the High End. Outstanding. Amplification was Angstrom Amps, 70 watts per channel.
The exotic room within a room was on display at the Kharma exhibit complete with a credenza to house your electronics and turntable! The eye candy is full-on via the AVShowrooms’ video, but the real achievement is in the sound. We played “I Want You” from the new Vanessa Fernandez album and the singer’s voice was suspended in space between the speakers. The sound was holographic, with brilliant dynamics and pin-point imaging. The acoustical treatment transformed an exhibit space with the usual problems to a venue allowing for a live concert sound. Treatments matter, folks, and the proof was in the Kharma room at the High End 2019.
This was the European introduction of the new M2 loudspeakers, the smallest in the M series. Take a look at the AVShowrooms’ video where Alon Wolf explains the technology. We played the track “I Want You” from the Groove Note LP of the same name and the sound was layered with a big soundstage and excellent transient response along with holographic imaging that we’ve come to expect from a Magico loudspeaker. Excellent. The room’s electronics were Soulution on Critical Mass racks. The source was the Kronos Analogue Solution.
The suite of Nagra electronics paired with YG Acoustics Sonja XV Jr., four tower system and the big YG sub woofer, InVincible™, delivered a delicate and detailed presentation on the Chasing the Dragon’s “Agnus Dei” CD. The believable organ and vocal were rich with imaging, tonality, tonal quality and a natural transient attack. The soprano was in the room with us as was the organ!
Benno Meldgaard, Chief Designer, walks us through all of the improvements to the Raidho design including a new motor system for better bass control and more (see the AVShowrooms’ video for the interesting details and philosophy). The result is the new loudspeaker, the TD3.8’s delivering an organic, musical sound, with excellent bass reach, dynamics and tone. We played Vanessa Fernandez’s “I Want You” and the sound was holographic and effortless. One of the best sounding rooms at The High End 2019. Electronics from Chord; cables, Gamut Reference; source, the new Pear turntable with two arms, “The Source”.
VAC, Valve Amplification Company/Von Schweikert Audio:
Featuring the Von Schweikert Ultra 9 loudspeaker from the flagship line and the VAC 450i iQ integrated amplifier, this system delivered a not unexpected concert sound which was truly one of the best sounds we heard at the MOC this year. We played the cut “I Want You”, from Groove Note’s new Vanessa Fernandez album and the sound was holographic with brilliant tonal quality, tonality and detail. All cabling was by MasterBuilt; the analogue front end, Acoustic Signature’s Invictus Jr. turntable with an Airtight Opus cartridge. The system also included Esoteric electronics and Artensania Racks.
Hans-Ole Vitus explains to the camera his new SIA 030 integrated amplifier that so effortlessly drove a pair of Rockport loudspeakers. We played one of our reference recordings “I Want you” by Vanessa Fernandez. Beautiful, musical and detailed sound filled the room. The decay left me emotionally charged and the quiet and speed of the system was extremely impressive.
Featuring the Zellaton Reference MKII loudspeakers, Michael Schwab walks us through the system which includes the exotic and excellent YS Sound monoblock amplifiers along with Schnerzinger protectors and cables. We played “I Want You”, Ying Tan’s new Vanessa Fernandez recording on the Reed Muse 1C turntable. The speakers are truly works of superior refinement. A relaxed natural and realistic sound; layered, fast and musical these speakers give you everything.
One of the top two at hifideluxe, 2019. The Alsyvox Caravaggio four panel, 5-way ribbons driven by a new Omega Concepts integrated amplifier; 200 watts per channel with 11 powers supplies for each channel! We easily transitioned from classical music to Kraftwerk’s German beat. Huge staging, perfect imaging and dynamics with a deep bass flawlessly integrated with the mids and the highs. To my ears, perhaps one of the best of the best sounds in all of Munich, this year. If I only had the room.
A new 4-way, passive loudspeaker from Latvia, the Aretai Contra high-end, debuted with stunning sonic success. A track from Kraftwerk showed off the impressive dynamics and the deep and punchy bass. A hands-down winner for the AVShowrooms’ Gold Show Award for sound, this year, at hifideluxe. Pay attention to these guys and check out our video.
Lots of slam and space, Audio Note UK gave us everything we’d want in a system. Detailed, musical and engaging. The AN-E SEC Signature loudspeakers turned the room into a concert hall. The Kraftwerk track “Musique Non Stop” was stunning in it’s realism.
Audionet and SeaWave Acoustics:
Featuring the Plotinus horn loudspeaker with Audionet electronics, we played the CD track “Agnus Dei” from Mike Valentine’s Chasing The Dragon. The voice was suspended in space and the bass pedal was spooky-realistic. A perfect handshake between these horn speakers and Audionet amplification.
“…perhaps the perfect loudspeaker…” Peter Breuninger. The debut of the Bayz “Counterpoint” flagship loudspeakers left us nothing less than astounded. A member of the design team, Zolton Bay, inventor and patent holder from Hungary played the jazz trio track “Three Blind Mice”. The sound was natural with impeccable decay and spot-on transients along with perfectly accurate tone and top to bottom micro and macro dynamics. The AVShowrooms’ video is not to be missed.
A live version of a Michel Jonasz track filled the room with a big warm, emotionally engaging sound. Fyne Audio was playing their F700 Series loudspeakers, driven effortlessly by a Cary Audio integrated amplifier. Jonasz’ voice grabbed this listener and kept her very interested.
The little Stella loudspeakers from Kroma delivered a big performance with chest punching bass and super-fast transients due in no small part to the synergy with Bricasti electronics, the M28 monoblocks, 200 watts per channel, and the Bricasti flagship streamer The speakers include tailor-made drivers from Scan Speak and use no metal parts in their construction.
Synergistic Research: This room was the “smooth operator” of the show. The Kharma Elegance dB9s were driven by Thrax electronics. Synergistic introduced the new Galileo Powercell 12 and the new Atmosphere X Series Power Cables. The sound was detailed but oh so smooth and believable, I wanted to stay there all day.
A complete Viva system including the Allegro loudspeakers and the Aurora monoblock amplifiers gave us a sublime sonic presentation when playing Anette Askvik’s “Liberty”. The sound in the Viva room was musical and warm, and at the same time detailed and realistic. I picked up on new information on a track that I’ve heard many times at audio shows. Sophisticated and emotionally involving.
Audio Note UK:
Vincent Belanger, Audio Note, UK Ambassador walked us through one of the best Audio Note audio show exhibit rooms I’ve heard to date. The new turntable, the Audio Note TT3, was spinning and the sound in the room was effortless and natural while playing a track from the album “Pure Cello” from Audio Note Music. Loudspeakers were the AN-E/SPeHE’s.
Wow! I got slammed, musically that is. The Gryphon room featured the Trident II Loudspeakers driven by the mighty Mephisto stereo amplifier with the new Ethos CD Player/DAC. Cables were Gryphon’s own VIP line. I was spellbound by the impact this system had. The system produced extensive image layering but the real take away was the emotion impact this amazing system produced. The dynamic range was simply off the charts! It was if I was at a live Kraftwerk concert!
GT Audioworks/Sound Insight:
Bravo to Steve Rabitz of Sound Insight and Greg Takesh, loudspeaker designer, GT Audioworks along with Eric Pheils, North American Distributor for Zanden. We played a track from “Chasing the Dragon” that filled the small hotel exhibit room with deep, rich music along with perfect tonality and tonal quality in both the female vocal and the organ. The GTA 3.1r Planar Magnetic full range loudspeaker along with Sound Insight’s open baffle subwoofers delivered seamlessly integrated bass as the panels pressurized the room. The Zanden tube amplifier Model 8120 drove the loudspeakers effortlessly, something I’ve come to expect from one of the best tube amplifiers being produced today (see AVShowrooms’video review of the 8120). . With pleasure I report that this year’s exhibit in a small room proved how well the loudspeakers work within a limited space. Included in the room: all cabling from Zanden, Richard Grey isolation transformer and power conditioner, Esoteric K01XS CD Player and the Kronos Sparta turntable.
High Fidelity Cables:
At the end of the hall, at the Schaumberg Convention Center, Rick Schultz of High Fidelity Cables was presenting us with a concert. There was so much energy in this space that it seemed to completely obliterate everything else that was going on at the other exhibits.
Included were the Bafflex loudspeakers, open baffle with adjustable side panels. The LS has 4, 12” drivers with a ribbon tweeter and is 102 db efficient. Driving these giants was the MA70 amplifier complete with magnetically assisted transistors. The High Fidelity Cables magnetic based Pro Series cables and Pro Elite cables along with the Pro Elite power conditioner were part of this wonderful spectacle of a system.
We played Kraftwerk’s “Radioactivity” a very appropriate track to show off the huge dynamic range, giving us slam and multiple layering.
LSA/Emerald Physics/Core Power Tech A/V:
This year’s AVShowrooms’ Video will feature a listening session with the new LSA-20 Statement floorstanding loudspeakers. We then move on to two listening sessions with the LSA 10 Signature Monitors; one session with the room correction on and one with it off. The room correction feature is included in the preamp and DAC, the DSPeaker Anti-Mode 2.0 Dual Core driving the monitors. The floorstanders brought Kate Bush into the room with us, front and center. The LSA-20’s threw a huge soundstage with great spatiality and bass. The speakers were driven by the Emerald Physics EP200.2SE hybrid dual mono amplifiers with 200 watts per channel. The DAC/preamp was the new Pure Audio Lotus and power conditioning was the Core Power Technologies Equi=Core 1800.
Especially compelling, and others in the room agreed, was the comparison of the same track on the monitors with the room correction in and the room correction out. With the correction in, noticeably the soundstage expanded, Kate’s voice was very close to what the floorstanders produced (without any room correction), the bass and the separation of instruments was about 85% of what the floorstanders delivered. You don’t have to shell out the big bucks to get great sound.
The Nagra exhibit room at AXPONA 2019 – easily one of the best sounds at the show. The electronics, of course, were all Nagra including the world-class Nagra HD preamp and Rene Laflamme walks us through the system on the AVShowrooms’ video. Along with effortless, delicately revealing sound and brilliant tonality, we were treated to an emotionally involving track from Rene’s recording of “Audiophile Analog Collection Vol. 1” titled “Greek Tycoon Bouzouki Music”. Several cuts on the album were recorded on the 4S Nagra tape deck. Outstanding! The loudspeakers were the Kharma Elegance S7’s and the cabling was by Organic Reference from Denmark.
Next Level HiFi/Borresen 5 Loudspeakers:
Truly, the star of the show was the United States debut of the Borresen 5 flagship loudspeakers. The Next Level HiFi exhibit room was dead quiet with the blackest of black background; the information I’ve not heard before in the Norwegian vocal cut “Liberty” was astounding. Another track, a jazz instrumental put the musicians in the room with us, you could hear the sax player breathing and connecting with his instrument. Michael Borresen explains in an interview on the AVShowrooms’ video, his revolutionary driver design. Driving the Borresen’s were the Aavik monoblock Class A 300 watts per channel (Michael talks about these beauties) along with the “Danish Army Knife”, the C300 preamplifier with a DSD DAC, PCM DAC and phonostage. Cables were Ansuz.
This year at AXPONA 2019, the Odyssey Audio exhibit room, with the newly upgraded Magnan Cables, gave the listeners one of the best soundstage experiences at the show comfortably competing with systems 10X the price. The layering, detail, beautifully integrated sound with the magnificent imaging is what keeps so many reviewers from various publications visiting the Odyssey/Magnan Room at the audio shows.
Equipment included the Kismet loudspeakers; Candela preamplifier and the Khartago mono blocks.
The Magnan cables were the Magnan Signature speaker cables and the Magnan signature interconnects, the upgrade (you’ll hear about it in the AVShowrooms’s video) is about replacing the woven jacketing with cotton cloth. I think this gave the overall sound a deeper texture with more image density. Definitely an improvement. I noticed a more profound emotional connection when playing a Kate Bush track. Next track was the Eagles’ “Hotel California”. I’ve heard this track in the Odyssey Audio room at shows before and nobody denies that the recording is bright. That brightness was toned down without losing any of the punchy, big, but detailed presentation.
Raidho with Audio Skies:
The Raidho TD4.2 loudspeakers pressurized the room to deliver both a musical and accurate sound. I consider the TD4.2 LS to be a hybrid composed of the TD4.1 and the organic signature that Benno Baun Meldgaard, Raidho’s chief engineer brings to the new design, a best of both worlds. Benno explains his design philosophy in the AVShowrooms’ video along with Michael Vamos, the Raidho Sales Director for the U.S. market. Michael talks about the new ribbon tweeter; higher efficiency (tube friendly), lower distortion and increased resolution. A track from the Kraftwerk album presented a full detailed, dynamic sound with a rich and emotionally stirring midrange that harkens back to the GamuT LS designs by Benno.
Everything in the system at the Synergistic Research exhibit room was running through the Powercell 12 SE power conditioner and we played the track “Radioactivity” from the Kraftwerk album “The Mix”.
Simply, when the power conditioner was turned on the soundstage opened up, the sound was more layered and images appeared in space around the room. The room included the Magico loudspeakers; Gryphon amplification and the United Home Audio tape deck.
VAC/Von Schweikert/The Audio Company:
The Flagship Ultra 11’s with the Valve Amplification Company’s Signature 450 iq’s are the must-have uber speakers and amplifiers if you want that live concert sound. When playing the track “Radioactivity” from Kraftwerk on the LP “The Mix”, the Ultra 11’s threw a huge soundstage with multiple layering, and an almost tactile imaging with earth-shifting dynamics.
Of course, the careful attention to choosing the right associated equipment, such as the Critical Mass racks and stands and MasterBuilt Cables is essential to achieve the end result.
The analogue source was the Tech Das One; The CD player was from Esoteric; the streamer from Aurender. Other associated equipment included a mass array of Esoteric electronics and the VAC Statement phono stage and linestage.
Well Pleased A/V:
The sound delivered through the new redesign of the Rethm Maarga v2 loudpeakers left this listener absolutely sure she could live with this speaker for the rest of her days. Jacob George, the designer, has made such monumental improvements delivering more warmth in the mids without sacrificing any of the detail, and in fact, bringing the musical experience closer to me with more overall dynamics. Simply, Anne Bisson’s “Le vent soufflé encore” from the album Conversations, a track I’ve heard hundreds of times over the years, delivered new information that was astonishing. Anne’s vocal mix in the beginning was profoundly more apparent as was her daughter’s at the end of the song. In addition to being in my top three best sounding rooms at AXPONA 2019, the speakers are a value at under 10,000 U.S. dollars (no price increase) and can compete with any speaker five to ten times the price. No exaggeration. A room with this kind of sound reminds me why I do what I do.
Associated equipment in the room, brought to us by Well Pleased A/V’s proprietor, Mark Sossa, include the Qualiton A20i SE Amplifier; Aqua Formula xHD D/A, GigaWatt PC-r Power Conditioner, Swisscables Diamond/Reference Plus and the SGR HiFi Racks Symphony Model 5/3. The source was the excellent Innuos Zenith MKIII Music Server.
The Audionet Stern and Heisenberg are the finest solid state amplifiers this reviewer has ever heard. Please enjoy the review.
-DC coupled with no sound diminishing capacitors or coils, shortest signal paths.
-One separate transformer per channel for the positive and negative half wave, leading to the perfect power supply.
-Four encapsulated and decoupled 50 VA toroid transformers.
-Main power supply capacitors 22,000 µF, optimized for very low impedance and made with silk dielectric.
-Total capacitance of 176,000 µF.
-Microprocessor control with separate power supply monitor and control of all functions, informing the user on a high resolution display.
-By-Pass mode for integration into home cinema systems.
-Audionet Link outputs for the remote control of further Audionet devices.
-User definable names for each input, input levels adjustable for each input.
-User selectable function to remove DC levels from signal sources.
-Mono power amplifier for absolute channel separation.
-Magnetically and capactively optimized circuit and device design without any ferro-magnetic materials.
-Floating Pane Design for optimal resistance against microphonic effects and temperature stability.
-The floating panels of the body are resonance-optimized by pads on an aluminum frame.
-Mounting and bolted assembly of transformers made of stainless steel.
-Air Flow Design circuit boards for an optimum of cooling and stable quiescent currents.
-Galvanic separation of all analog circuits by opto couplers.
-Audionet ULA technology (Ultra Linear Amplifier) for real-time linearization of distortions.
-Rhodium Cinch jacks and Rhodium torque speaker terminals by Furutech