#audiophiliacamp NYC 2009

by admin on May 31, 2009 · 4 comments

in Audiophiles and Musicians

#audiophiliacamp is a nod to the ‘hashtag’, a form of communication on Twitter. It seems that every meeting advertised on Twitter is labeled ‘#camp’. As such, we had #audiophiliacamp. Here’s what happened.

Audiophiles are a passionate bunch. Especially passionate here at Audiophilia. So it was with the greatest pleasure that I spent a week in New York City, home to three (soon to be four) of our regular contributing reviewers. Along with Rick Nickel, Audiophilia’s technical wiz, my wonderful accompanist Erika McNabb (NYC was a musical visit first, audio second), we met the NYC gang for dinner at a midtown Vietnamese restaurant.  Sadly, longtime reviewer Roy Harris was unwell and could not join us for dinner or the next evening’s listening session.

Dinner was at Saigon 48, a midtown Vietnamese restaurant that boasts an unassuming vibe, great food and an excellent cellar! A wonderfully musical discussion was interspersed by delicious appetizers, tasty pork and beef main courses, three bottles of two splendid wines (2005 Pirramimma Shiraz and 2006 Four Vines Zinfandel), followed by specialty Vietnamese coffee. Wonderful.

The next night was all about the audio. Accompanied by my son Matt and Rick Nickel, we drove to Marty Appel’s beautiful Riverside Drive apartment. Already there, tucking into wine, beer, pizza and great cheese, were Marty, Henry Wilkenson, Mike Levy (designer extraordinaire) and his beautiful wife, Maryann. We dove into the food and drink and let Marty and Mike discuss the setup and throw on some tunes. (Photo: Mike, Rick, Marty, Anthony, Henry)

Gear included an Avid Volvere turntable with a Rega arm and Shelter cartridge (I reviewed the Avid a couple of years ago. It’s a fantastic bit of kit!), PS Audio line conditioner, NuForce amplifiers, Acoustic Zen cables, Marantz’ Reference SA-7S1 CD/SACD player and the SC-7S2 Stereo Control Amplifier. I’m hoping Mike or Marty could fill in the blanks re the phono stage in a comment below. Speakers were Mike Levy’s own design, using a ribbon tweeter and 6.5 inch driver. Mike, I’d also like you to comment below on your fabulous speakers. Thanks.

Marty threw on lots of audiophile favourites, including Cantate Domino (both LP and CD in a shootout — we preferred the LP’s spatial presentation) , Gary Karr’s double bass playing  (in a recording highlighting his awful, almost painful intonation!), an old 2 eye CBS Philly recordings, and some star CDs, including Naxos’ Vaughn Williams’ 7th (so loved by hp) and a Pines of Rome shootout between the MSO/Dutoit/London and ASO/Lane/Telarc. The MSO won by a knockout.

Other than the pleasant conversations and excellent musical choices, it was the sound of Marty’s system that stole the show. It took a while for my ears to adapt (at first, I was a little concerned with the tweeter/driver integration), but after the system (or my ears) warmed up, the system sounded spectacular. The monitor speakers need four channels of amplification (the NuForces did an admirable job), and have spectacular bass, by far the best I’ve heard from a speaker this size. By far.

Mike’s speakers are being revamped and he hopes to have them to be back on the market soon. Hurry, Mike, audiophiles will be the better for your outstanding speakers. It was also nice to hear the Avid turntable sounding so good and with the entry level Rega 300 arm (my review was with an SME — not a favourite of mine) and the Shelter cart. It all sounded so good. The whole system had a synergy and was very well setup. The two most important tenets in a good system.

It was with some sadness that our evening came to a close. #audiophiliacamp is an annual event. The systems get better every year and the friendships even stronger. Thanks guys. Until next year.

{ 4 comments… read them below or add one }

Martin Appel 05.31.09 at 2:17 pm

It was great seeing everyone and sharing the listening experience. Yes, its too bad Roy had to miss it. I guess he’ll have to come by for a private session when he feels better.

The phono preamp was by AQVOX, a German company, that Mike Levy is in the process of reviewing. I will also add commentary. Currently I’m reviewing the PS Audio phonostage.

Going to CES 2010…Hope to see you all there.

admin 05.31.09 at 2:19 pm

Thanks for filling in the info, Marty. And thanks for your great hospitality.

Cheers, a

Michael Levy 06.01.09 at 3:31 pm

First I would like to say how much I enjoyed dinner, seeing everyone, meeting Erika, Rick, and Matt, and our listening experience at Marty’s house. Once again I was impressed with your dedication to the natural sound of music and instruments.

Thank you so much for your comments on the speakers. Maryann and I were glad to see you again recalling the wonderful time we had the first time we met at the CES in 2006 when I first presented these speakers under Wasatch Acoustics. A company that for reasons that had nothing to do with the acceptance of the product, never came together as an operating company. In fact, the industry response was very positive. Several magazines wrote positively about us including Audiophilia which gave us second place for best sound at the show. (You said we would have made first place but for the sound of our DVD player). The speakers were the culmination of a design project that I began in 2004. In search of our holy grail, the sound of live music, I decided to be a heretic and look into the DEQX system as the basis of a speaker design. It is a digital system that offers phase, time, and frequency response correction for both the drivers and the room. It also offers phase accurate high-level electronic crossovers and as such requires an amplifier for each driver.

Such a system is heretical to the analog lover in me as an audiophile, but the advantages the system gives a designer are an engineering dream. The weakest part of the speaker, the passive crossover, is removed, coupling the amplifier directly to the driver and removing the loss and energy storage. Phase accuracy is maintained with very little overlap in the drivers’ response. Combined with room and driver time, phase and frequency response correction the system allows a designer to concentrate on what is most important in design, the speed of the design, and thus the lowest possible distortion.

The woofer and the tweeter used in the speaker were chosen to take maximum advantage of the system. I combined them with my unique port/transmission line hybrid cabinet tuning system, and several design tricks I had developed though the years to control cabinet resonances and dispersion. The result is a response that goes cleanly down below 32Hz and out to 47KHz in a cabinet that takes up just over one cubic foot of volume. The dispersion and phase accuracy give an imaging characteristic that is amazing not only at the focal point, but anywhere in the room. What is most incredible is the lack of a digital signature in the sound. Images are round and with body. It absolutely sounds analog.

Since that show, I have been working on fine tunings of the design and demonstrating it to friends and colleges. The response has been so positive, and the interest so high that I am now looking into the cost to create the organization and manufacture an updated version. I would market it under the name Levy Acoustics, and call the speaker The Heretic. Since I will be financing the company myself, I only need to create the organization to move forward. I want to be able to offer these speakers not only as an incredible performer, but as an excellent value. As soon as I have everything sourced and my team together, I will announce the pricing and availability.

Thank you again for two wonderful evenings of friendship and music.

admin 06.01.09 at 4:46 pm

And Anthony gets the first review! :)

Ditto to all Mike’s comments. Astounding speakers.

Leave a Comment

You can use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>