2016 AXPONA  CHICAGO AUDIO SHOW

SHOW REPORT

Part 3

 

 

 

Pear Audio Blue turntables have a fascinating history. After reading it, it's no wonder they sound....special.

I'd like to let you in on it.

 

"Peter Mezek is a passionate music lover, who’s been professionally involved with music, hi-fi equipment and turntables for nearly 40 years. Analogue turntables were always his passion, whether it was the famous Linn Lp 12, which Peter distributed until the late 80s, or Well Tempered turntables, which he also distributed for many years.

In 1985, Peter developed his own first product, Rational Audio TT, designed by Jiri Janda, with a parallel tracking tonearm, which received a lot of attention and got very enthusiastic reviews. The turntable was build in Czechoslovakia exclusively for Peter’s company and featured many interesting and innovative technical solutions.

Since the 80s, Peter Mezek has handled literally thousands of turntables from top manufacturers, discovering the secrets behind the designs and hearing how minute improvements, or tiny tweaks, might improve the performance of a turntable.

However, it was Tom Fletcher and his approach to turntable design that most influenced Peter. On Tom Fletcher's turntables, Peter discovered previously unheard layers in the music, which no other deck could reveal, and with such amazing musicality and realism.

When Well Tempered was sold to new owners and spare parts became unavailable, Tom Fletcher stepped in to help Peter. Tom Fletcher designed and built a turntable for Peter, and thus Pear Audio Blue was born. At that time, it was still produced at the old Nottingham Analogue factory. Working closely together for many years, Tom Fletcher shared his design secrets and technology with Peter. Before Tom died, he passed the torch to Peter so that Tom Fletcher’s design ideas and ideology would continue.

The latest generation of Pear Audio Blue, designed by Tom Fletcher, is the triumphant culmination of Tom’s continuing development of turntables and tonearms. Each model is hand-built, one-by-one, by Peter Mezek in Slovenia and undergoes extensive quality control before leaving his artisan shop."

 

 

Pear Audio tables start as low as $2,999 with arm and cartridge.

 We have a review scheduled soon.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

it is an amazing coincidence that Bill Duddleston's Legacy Speakers were sharing space

and being fed by Metronome Technologie DACs. We are just completing a joint review

of a trio of Meteronome digital components; a CD transport, DSD DAC and a separate power supply. John Frtiz, and ardent ANALOG Stereomojo

reviewer and I both had the privilege of spending several weeks with the system so you will get two different takes.

I can tell you one thing right now: the lowly CD can sound incredibly good when played back on such

world class gear like Meteronome, handmade in France, and Legacy speakers, handmade in Illinois.

 

We had an exclusive interview with Jean Marie Clauzel (pictured) who heads Meteronome.

His insights will be part of our review.

 

 

Pictured also are the Legacy Aeris, our reference speakers.

Stereomojo was the first to review them and they quickly became our Product of the Year.

Here's something else I can tell you: I did not hear ANY speakers at the show

that me want to pony up more money to upgrade to anything else. Linda and have been

enjoying 3 to 4 hour listening sessions with them two nights a week for nearly two years.

Experiencing them with the Metronome Technologie digital system just made us appreciate even MORE

how outstanding they really are.

 

 

Bill's bright and beautiful daughter Victoria with Aeris.

(She really runs the place...)

 

 

 

 

World's best transport - Metronome Technologie Calypso

 

 

 

The happy coincidence continues with the Raven line of tube amplifiers - our Best Tube Amplifier line for 2014 - that were

supplying power to the Metronomes and Legacies. Raven maven Dave Thomson told us he voices his amps using

Legacy Audio speakers.

 

Did I mention I own Legacy Aeris?

What I can honestly say is that the Aeris have never sounded as good

at ANY show as they did driven by Raven amps in Chicago.

 

Raven has more than TWENTY tube amp models in their line!

Designed and made in TEXAS!

 

Of particular interest were the

Raven Nighthawk MK 2 $2,595,   Blackhawk Limited Edition selling now $3,495 and Osprey 30 watt $4,495

 

 

 

The $2,595 entry level Nighthawk MK 2 is an integrated amp with these features:

Output: 20wpc
Frequency response: 20Hz ~ 20kHz
Speaker terminals: 4 and 8 ohm
Inputs: 6 single-ended RCA
Recommended speaker sensitivity: 87dB - 96dB
Dimensions: W 15.5" x D 14" x H 6.5"
Weight: 35lbs

 

Tube Complement

2 x 12AT7 - Preamplifier stage
2 x 12AT7 - Power amplifier first stage
2 x 12AU7 - Phase inverter/driver
4 x 6L6GC - Power tubes
Self-biasing

 

 

 

$3,495 Blackhawk Limited Edition

 

 

 

  In a special pearl metallic white, or metallic pearl Jade (Raven uses genuine Mercedes paint), the $4,495 Osprey is on a whole new level of beautiful.

At 30 watts, it features even deeper bass promoted by a brand new Raven Audio proprietary power supply that keeps all of the tubes within an amazingly accurate 1% voltage drift. This will make the preamp/driver tubes last even longer than designed.

 

 

In July or August expect a new model called the Eagle, a top line amp

followed by the Golden Eagle with even more output.

 

It appears that Raven is flipping the bird to the rest of the tube amp industry!

 

 

 

 

 

 

GTT Audio

 

Kronos Limited Edition Turntable - $38,000

Black Beauty 12" arm - $9,125

Airtight Opus 1 Cartridge - $15,000

running through about $90,000 of Audionet gear

 

 

 

Emotive XMC1 - 7 ch AV Processor

Price: $2,499

 

Auto Setup/Room EQ: Dirac Live
Video Processing: Analog Devices (HDMI switching only)
Dimensions (W x H x D, Inches): 17 x 5.75 x 15.5
Weight (Pounds): 21
Video Inputs: HDMI 2.0 (8)
Audio Inputs: Coaxial digital (3), optical digital (3), AES/EBU digital XLR (1), stereo analog RCA (4), stereo balanced analog XLR (1), 7.1- channel input RCA (1)
Additional: USB B digital audio (1)
Video Outputs: HDMI 1.4a (2)
Audio Outputs: Stereo analog (3), 7.2-channel preout RCA (1), 7.2-channel pre-out balanced XLR (1), ¼-inch headphone (1)
Additional: USB A firmware updates (2), Ethernet (1), FM antenna (1), AM antenna (1), 12-volt trigger (4), IR in (1), IR out (1)

 

 

 

George Klissarov of Exasound makes some exciting, high value DACs,

including one of the first DSD DACs commercially available.

 

He had the good sense and good ears to use Magnepan 1.7i ($2,095) speakers for his demo

along with a Parasound Halo p7 pre  ($2,000) into a Halo A51 amp ($4,500)

 

Of special interest was his new PlayPoint Network Audio Player - only $1,999

PlayPoint is exaSound’s answer to the proliferation of network music protocols and standards.

A network audio endpoint that supports all high end standards and streaming providers,

PlayPoint embraces AirPlay, HQ Player, MPD, UPnP plus TIDAL and Qobuz.

 

It also has a USB 3 input for external storage. (not many have USB 3)

 

Word has it that it will also have MQA built-in soon.

 

 

 

 

ZeroJitter™ asynchronous bitperfect streaming
GalvanicInfinity™ USB isolation with e20, e12, e22, e28
ZeroResolutionLoss™ volume control with all-time 0dB full-scale streaming
4-way volume synchronization, volume trimming for individual channels
Zero-configuration touch screen user interface
Remote support, remote upgrade
ENclusiv™ Comprehensive Sampling Rate support in stereo and multi-channel:
Native DSD64, DSD128, DSD256 up to 12.28MHz
DXD 352.8kHz /True 32bit
PCM 44.1 to 384kHz /True 32bit
Native DSD256 works best with NAA, JRiver, MPD, MinimServer, Twonky and Asset UPnP
Multi-channel playback requires Gigabit Ethernet connection
Wireless Wi-Fi 801.11ac connections supports stereo DSD256 and stereo PCM 384/32bit

 

But - it is now ROON ready!

Being RoonReady means that exaSound network players transparently discover and connect to Roon,

with no network configuration, with bitperfect delivery of audio to your DAC.

 

Roon is a music server interface that is one of the best

(many think it IS the best) available. And it's free!

 

Built especially to use with EXASOUND DACS.

 

 

 

 

The new $14,000 Focal Sopra No2

seemed to be a bargain compared to the many overpriced speakers at the show.

Excellent dynamics stood out here and a very BIG sound.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

BRYSTON was showing their new CUBED SERIES 7B³ 600 watt mono amplifiers  - $5,700 EACH

 

 Also their new BDA-3 – possibly the most flexible DAC available with its HDMI, USB, and traditional digital inputs and dual balanced DACs.

The BDA-3 delivers re-sampling and re-clocking of the digital input signal. With the exception of user-selectable up-sampling, the BDA-3 doesn't convert anything to another format or re-sample at a non-native rate. The most notable difference between the BDA-2 and BDA-3, in addition to PCM playback capable of 384kHz/32 bit resolution, is that the BDA-3 is fully DSD enabled. The BDA-3 can decode up to DSD-256, through asynchronous USB inputs, and accepts SACD input via HDMI. The BDA-3 incorporates 10 separate inputs which include four 2-channel HDMI, asynchronous USB, AES/EBU, TOSLINK, and digital coax. Additionally, the network module which facilitates control via TCP/IP and RS-232 makes the BDA-3 a must for modern home automation.

Inputs: 4x HDMI, 2x USB 2.0 Type B, 2x S/PDIF (1x BNC, 1x RCA), 1x Optical (TOSLINK), 1x AES/EBU
Outputs: HDMI, RCA, XLR
Control: TCP/IP, IR, DC, RS-232

Features:
Dual 32Bit AKM DAC IC's
Discrete Class A analog output stage
Independent analog and digital signal paths
Independent power supplies
Massive support for different PCM and DSD resolutions
HDMI video pass-through with audio out (4K video pass-through)

That's a lot of DAC for $3,500

 

 

 

Go to Part 4

High Value Systems

 

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