Day 1 -- The New York Audio is back in Manhattan, Yeah! The venue is the very classy and classic Park Lane Hotel, right across from Central Park on Central Park South.
Who would have thought? Two years ago they moved out of Manhattan to the borough of Brooklyn, then last year even further away north to Westchester County, NY, not even in New York City; I assumed it might next be in Albany.
But no, back they came to where they belong, the center of NYC: the Big Apple. Admittedly, they (poorly) chose the weekend of the New York City Marathon event with about 30,000+ runners to compete with, causing difficulties for both vendors and attendees (Hotels available anyone?).
No matter, though, as the show was very well attended. Standing room only in many rooms. I guess the Manhattan audiophiles were happy to have a show back on the island.
If the organizers choose a better date next time, this could really blossom into something special.
I arrived at about 11:30AM welcomed by Christine Yuin and a host of other kind and friendly personnel who welcomed us in high spirits.
One of the first rooms I ventured into turned out to be a real treat from the Nordic Countries of Finland and Norway: Simplify Audio from Finland was premiering their new flagship Anti-Mode X4 ($3,490), represented by the amiable Tim G. Ryan, which is a top-notch speaker calibration unit (like DEQX, converts input to digital and does magic, before sending out along as analog yet again).
It is so user friendly and does not requite a laptop to use it: It automatically can do all including handling mains and 2 subwoofers. It includes a professional quality microphone that once set up initially in the `sweet spot’ of your system does it all.
They matched up with Norway’s EC Living, which was represented right at hand wth knowledgeable CEO Mikal Dreggevik, who in addition to showing their tri-amped active SCM40A loudspeakers ($13,000 per pair), that were using the Anti-Mode X4, were showcasing some remarkable small nice-looking wireless TANA speakers fitted with Class A-B amplification that includes a steamer (pair with an internal streamer at $1,280). Streaming is compatible with Tidal, among others. Very impressive sound stage/imaging and dynamic range considering; should be a winner.
On the 7th Floor, I ran into friendly and down-to-earth Mark Schneider of Linear Tube Audio. I had been checking out a microZOTL2 (all-tube) headphone amp/Preamp at home very recently, and was impressed with its natural sound for headphones. So, what a nice sight in the Linear Tube Audio Room 711: A pair of elegant looking bi-amped Sadurni Acoustics `Miracle’ horn speakers (If 'elegant’ can possibly be said about horn speakers!), driven by 2 microZOTL2S ($1845 each). This new `S’ model of microZOTL is their top-of-the-line one, with upgraded components and tubes (review forthcoming), and powered by a new external power supply (very sleek looking). On hand for perusal was also the ZOTL40 power amplifier ($5800) Designed by David Berning. Schneider played for me a recording of Bach Cello Suite No. 1 by Janos Starker; very detailed and natural sound. Unusual for me (horn speakers) was that the sweet spot was not robust, you must keep precisely within it to get the fullquality. Overall, a fine looking and sounding set up; included a Wolf Audio Systems Red Wolf Server ($8,000), a Veracity Audio Chrysalis DAC ($7100), Audience cabling and power conditioner, supported bya 4 shelf rack in Sapele ($4130).
In the small headphones room on the 2nd floor, New York based Master & Dynamic were displaying their ware; and newsworthy was their debut of the new MW50 Wireless (over ear, closed) headphones, 30% lighter and smaller than their already superb MW60 model. It should be available for listening by Saturday; I will surely be there to check it out.
In Salon A, very kind `Ship’s Captain’ Bob Carver, known for his vacuum tube amplifiers, was showing off his `Amazing Line Source’ loudspeakers ($18,500 a pair including Subrossa Subwoofer), and amazing looking they were, very thin in width, at 135 pounds and 7.5 feet tall, they sounded whipping fast with an enormous sound stage.
They contain 13 forward firing ribbon drivers, 18 lateral firing high excursion drivers, and 1 spatial ribbon driver. I had a chance to chat with Carver on the outside deck of the room too. A gentleman, he will be giving a Seminar on Saturday. Supporting equipment included a pair of Silver Seven 900 Monoblock amps ($32,000 a pair), and a pair of 350 Monoblocks ($9,500 per pair).
In Room 904, Alta Audio was world-premiering their new powerful `Titanium’ loudspeakers ($27,000 a pair), a D’Appolito and dipole design with 5 drivers.
Driven by 2 Krell Solo 375 Class A Monoblock amps ($17,500 a pair), with a Krell Illusion II Preamplifier ($7,000) and supported by Anticables highest level of cabling (interconnects, power, speaker) this was my favorite sounding room.
The soundstage was huge and focused (nothing amorphous) with pinpoint accuracy of imaging, voices had the singer way up high smack in the center andthere was amazing bass and detailed tonal accuracy.
Vinyl was playing on a VPI Avenger, and digital via a Solution 541 SACD Player ($40,000) and a Vanguard Universal DAC ($4,500). I heard the lovely LP `The Well’, by Jennifer Warnes, and lots of Jazz digital.
From the UK, Prism Sound, originally known/famous for professional studio products but now intocommercial audio, was showcasing their very nicely priced reference Callia DAC/Preamp/ with a headphone jack ($2,750) in Room 811.
The speakers too were from the UK; the Acoustic Engineers SCM40A ($13,000), which were 3-way active tri-amped (amps inside the speakers), resulting in simplicity and fine sound (speakers, Callia, and cables).
Friendly and knowledgeable Mark Evans from Prism Sound was on hand and let me hold and examine a Callia; modern looking, small and light. Audiophilia colleague Martin Appel gave the system a fine workout with one of his reference CDs.
I finally got to meet the President NY based of Mytek, Michael Jurewicz; what a friendly and wonderful guy. He was showing off the new Manhattan II DAC ($6,000) and doing so in Manhattan. It contains not only a DAC and headphone amp, but a fine analog preamp too. It can handle not only PCM up to 32/384, and quad rate DSD, but also contains an MQA high-resolution decoder. Jurewicz kindly allowed me an excellent listening session in which Muddy Waters `Folk Singer' was playing 3 ways at once for comparison (by the flip of a switch): vinyl, PCM (24/192), and MQA. Several different pairs of high-end headphones were at hand to use at my disposal, such as Audeze LCD-XC ($1,800), HIFIMAN HE1000 ($3,000), and Mr Speakers Aplha Prime ($1,000). Fascinating; all sounded superb, but different; I have not made up my mind, each has advantages and disadvantages.
A VPI Scout was used for a turntable.
The Wes Bender Studio room was well attended, tasteful and sounded great.
The speakers, GamuT RS3i in Ruby ($20,990) I have heard in many different spaces and always sound dynamic, tight and clear, with a nice soundstage, and did so here too. I listened to the LP `Witches' Brew', a 1958 recording with the New Symphony Orchestra of London. It showed off the dynamic range and finesse of the speakers beautifully. Both Wes Bender, and Michael Vamos (Gamut) were on hand as kind and welcoming hosts. Other GamuT supporting equipment included all cabling ($10,000 +), CD3 CD player ($7990), D200i dual mono stereo amplifier ($13,990), and D3i dual mono line stage preamplifier ($8,380). The vinyl rig: Pear Audio Blue/Kid Thomas turntable w/Cornet 2 tonearm ($7,995), Pear Audio Blue Classic phonostage ($1,995),
Pear Audio external power supply ($1,995), and an Ortofon Cadenza black cartridge ($2,729).
Another interesting and nice sounding room on the 7th Floor; German company AVM Audio. They were introducing a complete Ovation Line 6.2 to the USA Market, including preamps with wifi streaming capabilities, and using several kinds of PMC loud speakers. Peder Baeckman (AVM) proudly showed me his CD 6.2 Preamp with streaming and DAC ($8,995).
The 2016 New York Audio Show, back now in Manhattan, has real potential to grow and become one of the best in the country. Although there were fewer vendors than in the past, the majority of them were of very fine quality and the crowds were unusually large, lively and enthusiastic. I greatly enjoyed this show; I hope they do it again in the same venue: While the show only used up parts of Floors 2, 7,8,9, the Park Lane has 46 floors-- come one, come all!