STEREOMOJO SPECIAL REPORT
T.H.E SHOW 2009
Carl and Marilyn Marchisotto were showing the recent Nola Baby Grand Reference that received our
Speaker of the Year in the over $25,000 category which was presented at the show. Congratulations! Our world's first review was recently published.
Interestingly, I later asked a competing speaker maker if he had heard anything at the show that impressed him, other than his own speakers. He replied, "The big Nola's were pretty good...". That's the highest praise one can expect from a competitor. We agree. The Baby Grand's were Best of Show at Rocky Mountain for us and several other publications. It's very difficult to pull it off twice in two completely different rooms at two different shows. Hmmm. These MUST be "pretty good!"
Apparently the Baby Grand Reference has spawned an offspring in the form of their new stand-mount Micro Grand Reference Nola debuted at the show. Amazingly, the $12,000 Micro's have much the same quality as their bigger brothers but on a smaller scale. Though they only have three small drivers, the bass was tuneful, musical, low and enormous. "Everyone asks where the subwoofer is", Carl grinned. We wondered, too, but there was none. Looks (and sounds) like Nola has another winner.
Valentina Ross shows the Italian Nightingale statement GALA two-chassis SET power amp, show here for the first time in a richly stunning black finish. Like the Nola's above, the Concentus speakers are open baffle and produced a huge, very musical sound stage, even in the rather tight room.
Nightingale also showed a mockup of their new power conditioner
Speaking of Italian, wanna buy a Ferrari for $20,000? Here it is. This David Weiner product is a stereo speaker in one tower that, other than a power cable, is completely wireless. It is designed specifically to enhance playback of lossy MP3 tunes. "That's what most people are listening to", the rep told us, "so we want to make them sound better." The technology they use is not new and has been around the recording industry for decades. Since 1975 I think. The Aphex Aural Exciter and Big Bottom. Kinda sounds like something they'd be showing at the porn convention, huh? Initially in box, the programs are now software based. In the studio, the Exciter generates and restores high frequencies that are lost are limited in the mixing process. It's artificial but intelligent. In this case, the Exciter is programmed to restore high frequencies and detail lost to MP3 compression. The "Big Bottom" does the same thing down low. It comes with a cool remote with the on switch labeled "Start Engine", just like in a Ferrari. The car company doesn't design the speaker, they just licence the name. It is not a high-end product. Kind of reminds us of something Bose might do. But the fact that it is compact and wireless is cool. They also make a unit where an Ipod plugs in the top and you'd use the little Apple remote instead. See below.
Not Italian, but definitely hot are the Stereomojo 2008 Product of the Year winners from Israel Blume at Coincident. Our of the thousands of products at CES, we presented only FIVE Products of the Year Awards. Pictured here are the Total Victory IV models which are the next model up from the Super Victory's we reviewed and on which we bestowed our "Best Speaker Value" award for speakers over $5,000. If you combine them with the 300B Frankenstein monoblocks pictured on the shelf top (our world's first review is coming soon), you have one of the most musically rewarding systems at any price. The Coincident's are extremely efficient and may be one of the most tube friendly speakers on the planet. We drove them with 5 watts very easily. We may have to come up with a new award for that combo - Best Speaker/Amp Combo from the Same Company. But then the same pair of Total Victory's you see here is coming to us directly from Vegas, so we may have to withhold judgment.
A word about "Awards". If you read Stereomojo much, you know we often reveal "Dirty Little Secrets" in the audio industry as well as the audio press. You know that advertising and reviews go hand in hand in many publications - don't let anyone tell you is doesn't. But so do awards. It works like this: You know that some publications - print and net based - give out multiple awards each year. There's a reason for that. The more awards you give, the more those awards appear in advertising all over the world, always with the publication's name and usually with a quote from a reviewer. So the more awards given, the more free publicity the publication gets and the more important the reviewer becomes. Simple, yet effective. Our awards are based on merit. In the long run, we think that makes them more meaningful.
Sorry, no beautiful women here, but Brian Warford and John Tucker of LSA make some of the most beautifully musical speakers and integrated amps on the planet.
That's why you see a "Best Integrated Amp - 2008" award for the LSA Statement Integrated Amplifier. It is truly a remarkable masterpiece of engineering and sound reproduction.
Also pictured is a prototype of LSA's coming new CD player designed by John Tucker who also helms Exemplar Audio. There's no model number yet we can reveal some of the goodies inside, but saying it's designed by John Tucker will say enough to anyone who knows his engineering talents. The finished product will match the style of the LSA amps. We begged to be first on the list to get one.
These are speakers by YG Acoustics. As you see, they are said to be "The Best Loud speakers on Earth - Period". According to YG Acoustics.
They aren't. They are excellent speakers, but there is no such thing as the "best speaker on earth". Any speaker may sound smashing in one room and awful in another. Any speaker may sound terrific with one amp and unlisteneable with another. One speaker may sound perfect to my ears and sound like garbage to yours. There is no "best on the planet speaker". The were the only speaker with rope in front of them, however.
This was one of the more impressive demos at the show. Can you spot the amplifier in the picture?
It's the tiny Virtue One from Virtue Audio driving those big floorstanders. At $250 and available in several colors, the Tripath based integrated amp was pretty sensational. Of course, we already knew that because we've had a couple of them for months. Our review will be published this weekend.
Sam Laufer and Dr. Peter Sansone of Laufer Teknik display our award for "Most Innovative Speaker" given to the new Podium .5 planar speaker pictured below.
They also told us that the famous Memory Player seen here has been updated with a much better user interface and other goodies such as a new solid state memory. We should have the new model in a week or two for a first review of the updates.
The Podium is not an electrostat, ribbon or magnetic. It's a brand new technology that reproduces music in such a way as to make us all rethink what music really should sound like in our homes. Is this the most realistic sounding speaker ever? Read our review and decide for yourself. Congrats to Dr. Shelly Katz and Laufer Teknik.
This is Jozefina Krahulcova. She's not a supermodel, tennis star or olympic ice skater, she is CEO of Euro Audio Team or EAT.
She makes vacuum tubes in the old Tesla factory in Prague. EAT does not sell re-badged tubes nor do they sell their wares to other companies to be re-badged. "Everything is made in our own factory to our specifications", she said. They also make various accessories. The EAT 300B tube was part of our 300B shootout of about a dozen different brands. Our review will be published soon, but we can say that the EAT 300B was one of the top finishers. EAT is distributed in the US by Music Hall.
Speaking of tubes, we have it from two reliable sources that KR Audio, maker of very fine tubes in the Czech Republic, is now "not interested" in selling tubes to the American market - maybe not any market. Instead, they want to only sell their tubes in their own brand of tube amplifiers. Go figure.
Jozefina also excitedly told us about the new turntable she has developed.
As you can see, it's a real beauty with dual motors. "I wanted to use a dual motor design to eliminate noise in the motor and cogging. By using two relatively weak but silent motors, we achieve perfect torque", she beamed. There's a circuit to provide clean AC to the motor as well.
The platter is oversized to accommodate the new 12" arm and provide a rock solid base for the LP. The 44 lb platter floats on neodymium magnets to completely decouple it. The chassis of the table is mass loaded with metal filled sand. The vinyl mat is made from recycled records (hope they were Jane Fonda workouts). The feet are also magnetic and act as a subchassis to support the table and reduce vibration. That's a lot of technology in an $8,000 table, not including arm. Jozefina said she'd be glad to send us one when it's available in the US.
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