2016 AXPONA  CHICAGO AUDIO SHOW

SHOW REPORT

Part 2

 

 

 

Thiel has moved to Nashville and revamped their line. Showed TT1 speakers (in white) $6,000 pr. Thiel TM3 monitors speakers $4,000 pr. Stands $750 pr.

Interestingly, the room was completely empty the whole time we were there, probably twenty minutes.

Seems Thiel needs to do some work on their marketing. Or their products.

Even driven by a Levinson integrated, the sound was not remarkable.

From what we heard, you can do much better for the money as you will see

later in this report.

 

Their Smart Sub has wireless control and auto room correction.

For $5,300, it goes down to 16 Hz.

 

 

 

In another Stereomojo exclusive, Rebecca Abrahams, Thiel CBO,

revealed that the company will soon be coming out with a new 40th anniversary flagship speaker

yet to be named, probably over $10,000. We can't reveal any more details yet,

but it sounds like it might be a winner.

 

 

We've known Rick Schultz for over 12 years when he headed Virtual Dynamics.

I still have a set of his Nite series cables that featured strong magnets at the end

to facilitate electron flow.

 

 

Interconnects - 1 meter $1,600

 

Now, his High Fidelity Cable Company, not a very original name, but his

new "non-cables" certainly are. See, they aren't really cables.

Instead of magnets at the end of the cables, these employ Magnetic conduction, a new and unique technology which preserves signal quality by utilizing a magnetic as well as electrically conductive pathway for signal transfer. In basic terms, magnetic conduction consists of creating magnetic fields with the precise strength, orientation, and dimensions as to concentrate electron flow inside the conductor. The magnetic fields guide the electrons through the conductor in a more efficient manner than standard electrical conduction, offering less distortion and interference.

 

 

Power Cable - 1 meter $2,000

 

No music was playing, but Rick is going to send us some

for review.

 

 

You can get a taste of his tech with these

adapters for only $299. "Simply fit the directional adapters onto your current cables and hear the benefits of magnetic conduction", he said.

 

 

Goldman showed the Logos Towers, $20,000/pr., are made from extruded aluminum and can be wireless with their dongle.

 

The sound was a bit polite, but overall there are much better speakers

for less money, wireless or not. Compared to the Legacy Aeris for $18,000 which are strikingly gorgeous, they also have built-in

DSP to mate to your room perfectly, and we know that the room effects sound more than anything else.

 

 

Talk about buzzes, the new $4,000 Technics Grand Class SL-1200GAE limited addition table sold out in Japan in less than an hour.

 

What's new?

 

Twin-Rotor Surface-Facing Direct Drive Motor
Direct Drive Motor Controller
High Sensitive Tonearm
Brass-Top Turntable PlatterInsulator

They will now sell the G model for the same price, $4,000. What's the difference between the Grand Class 1200GAE and the plain 'ole G?

See the little black label on the front right side? That's the difference.

 

I was much more interested in the rest of the Technics line.

 

 

Look at this gorgeous stereo integrated amp/DAC, model SU-C700.

 

FEATURES

 

JENO Engine - (Jitter Elimination and Noise-shaping Optimization)
Load Adaptive Phase Calibration
High-speed Silent Linear power supply
Battery Driven Clock Generator
High Rigidity Metal Double Chassis
High Rigidity aluminium cabinet
White LED illuminated large level meter
Symmetric structure

 

Output power
45 W + 45 W (1 kHz, T.H.D. 0.3%, 8 Ω, 20 kHz LPF)
70 W + 70 W (1 kHz, T.H.D. 0.5%, 4 Ω, 20 kHz LPF)

 

Now, for the paltry sum of $1,500, that's a pretty good deal, right?

BUT, it also has a DAC the does these formats:

 

DSD (2.8224 MHz, 5.6448 MHz)
PCM (32, 44.1, 48, 88.2, 96, 176.4, 192 kHz / 16, 24, 32 bit)

 

A good DSD DAC alone might go for $1,500.

 

 

 

 

 

Network Audio Amplifier SU-G30 - $4,000

 

Includes MM Phono section

1 Analogue line input

2 coax, 1 optical, 3 USB with IOS support

DAC supports WAVE, FLAC, AIFF, ALAC, AAC, WMA, MP3

Up to 24/192

 

PLUS DSD 2.8224 MHz, 5.6448 MHz

 

 

Network Audio Player ST-C700 $1,100

 

Like the SU-G30 without the amp

 

 

 

But what might have been the most impressive were these SB-C700 speakers.

They use a flat coaxial two-way woofer/tweeter single point source. $1,600/pr.

Definite challengers to the KEF LS-50

 

 

 

 

We listened to Miles' Kind of Blue via vinyl and digital.

A rather sophisticated total system with turntable, digital music server with DSD and speakers

for about $15,000.


 

Their $1,200 EAH-T700 headphones? Our comments say,

“Nice sound stage, air, width, height, not fatiguing, little tight and a little heavy. Almost superior soundstage. Closed back isolation.”

Thanks to Bill Voss for the excellent products demo.

 

 

 

One of the most overlooked speaker companies is Gershman Acoustics.

We have reviewed two of their speaker models and found them both to be excellent values

The new $5,900 Inspiration model sounded exceptional. A bit on the romantic, comfortable, inviting listening side

(that's a good thing) with vocals, both male and female, their strongest suit. They still reproduce top-notch detail, outstanding sound stage and now, low bass down to 16 Hz!

 

Notes include, " “Sound stage enormous. Singer life size. Voice coming from 3 feet above the cabinets.”

The cabinet is not just a fiber-filled box, but rather an intricate labyrinth the gives the bass waves a longer way to travel to reproduce those ultra-low 16 Hz frequencies. there's a double chamber silk-dome tweeter, carbon fiber mid and 10" custom-built woofer. They invite you to listen for hours and hours without fatigue. If your wife hates your speakers, try these. And a goblet or two of a nice Merlot. Women dig these.

 

Three "Inspirations" - Ofra Gershman, Linda Darby and the new speaker.

 

 

 

 

Magico S5 Mk II $38,000

 

The updated Magicos are three-way with two 10" woofers, one 6" midrange, and one 1" beryllium tweeter

 

This was actually one of the better sounding Magico demos we've heard,

but certainly not one of the better $30,000 speakers we've heard.

The $18k Legacy Aeris and the $19,800 Nola Studio Grand Reference Gold

(we listened to both here) are where the real "Magic-oh!" happens, just to name two.

 

The S5 has some heart at last, but still no soul.

This is a good $10,000 speaker. But don't take any of your own music to the demo, they only play a scant few of their own choices.

 

Last year an apparent lackey had the audacity to play something I requested.

Alon Wolf, Mr. Magico, came storming into the room, breaking off a conversation he was having in the hallway

screaming about why "that" was playing. He quickly changed the song.

Everyone was staring at him. It was quite a scene.

 

Hmmmm....

 

 

 

 

 

 

Speaking of the Nolas...

 

Carl Marchisotto is the undisputed world champion when it comes to open baffle speakers

and great open baffle speakers are world class and hard to better.

 

WHY OPEN BAFFLE?

 

Speaker boxes are expensive to make. The main reason Magicos are so expensive

is the heavy advertising and reviewer "incentives" they do, as well as the expensive aluminum

framework they make to reduce box resonances.

But what if you eliminate the box and all the resonances, phase distortions and other

artifacts they induce? Why you'd have a less expensive, better sounding speaker, right?

They might even have

gorgeous, hand lacquered rosewood finishes and a live-sounding sound stage presentations that no enclosed speaker can match.

 

Then you would have a Nola.

 

 

 

The NOLA Studio Grand Reference Gold is a floor standing loudspeaker of compact proportions. They include the same Alnico magnesium woofers, Alnico dipole open baffle mid-range and our new true ribbon tweeter as the bigger more expensive models. This three-way, three-driver system is designed to provide edge of the art performance in smaller rooms, even though they sounded amazing in the large penthouse-size room at the show. Utilizing the same one square foot of floor space as the Metro Grand Reference Gold, its performance is also very user friendly. The system is supplied with a piano black finished base and four heavy-duty spikes. An optional ball bearing isolation platform is also available.

 


The 160 mm gold phase plug Alnico magnet bass driver provides deep bass with a clarity that is unusual at any price. It mates perfectly with the 120 mm Alnico open baffle mid-range. The latest version of the true ribbon tweeter incorporates components that NOLA is now manufacturing for even better performance. The NOLA Studio Grand Reference Gold is truly a smaller, but same ultimate quality implementation of the $33,000/pair Metro Grand Reference Gold at the most attractive price ever offered for a Gold Collection product. The reproduction of a good deal of the "atmosphere of the recording venue" that the Metro Grand is famous for, combined with the grain-free instantaneous response of the new ribbon tweeter, make its presentation unique in this size and price point.

 

If you appreciate the sound of live music, these even make studio recordings sound live-in-concert and take authentic live recordings to a much higher level.

 

Easily one of the best sounding demos in Chicago.

 

 

 

The new Wilson Alexx speakers. $109,000/pr.

 

Speaking of expensive, heavy advertising...

 

 

There were hundreds of signs like this all OVER the place.

This one stared back at you every time you got in one of the 5 elevators.

Such advertising, and paying at least $70,000 to get your speaker on the cover of a magazine

is factored into every Wilson speaker. As are other well known brands, of course.

 

 

Of course, another $100,000+ of electronics were driving them.

 

Nevertheless, these Alexx speakers are the best sounding Wilsons we've heard at a show.

Yes, they are still on the academic, cool, sterile side of things, but the detail and dynamics were impressive.

But for $110,000? Please...

 

 

 

 

While we are visiting expensive stuff,

this, dear readers, is a $20,000 phone cartridge.

It is the DS Audio Master 1. It uses light to modulate

the waves picked up by the stylus. It does come with

a large interface box though..

 

It was attached to an AMG Viella table - $17,000

playing through Aesthetix Mono Eclipse amps - $25,000/pr

Aesthetix Janus Eclipse preamp - $13,000

 

and...

 

 Sonus Faber Lillium speakers - $70,000/pr.

 

Total system plus cables = ~ $150,000

and you'd better like vinyl because there's no digital players included.

But emporium extraordinaire Garth Leerer of Musical Surroundings will throw in an

Aurender N100H digital music server for a paltry $2,700.

 

More on Aurender later.

 

This was an excellent sounding system.

 

 

 

 

Garth was also showing the Sonus Faber ll Cremonese speakers, $45,000 pr.

This also sounded very good.

 

Along with the new Audio Research Reference 6 line stage - $14,000

and GS159 stereo amp - $20,000

 

 

 

 

Garth can also sell you the brand new debuting

Clearaudio Performance DC Wood table for a little less - $5,000.

It comes standard fitted with Clearaudio’s magnetic bearing Verify Carbon Fiber tonearm.

 

We've got more...and more after that

including our Best of Show Awards.

Go to Part 3

 

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