STEREOMOJO SPECIAL REPORT
CES & T.H.E SHOW 2008
Dan Herrington's Proclaim Audio speakers have won many awards around the world for their innovative design and exquisite sound. We've heard them at several shows in 2007. but this time they were teamed up with Cary Audio tube amps and that took them to another level. Each of the top two drivers are on mounted on fully articulating arms that allow you to tune the speakers to your room like no other speaker in existence. A tuneable crossover gives you the last inth of custom installation and tuning. These babys completely disappear into one of the most detailed and huge soundstages ever. When Dennis Had of Caryheard these spekaers with his amps, he did a last minute switch and asked Dan to use the Proclaims in the Cary demo room. Great choice. The sound and synergy was unbelievable. Easily among the best sound at show at any price. The Proclaims sell for $25,000 and come in just about any color you want.
We were first to announce the existence of this new integrated from Pass Labs way back in 2007 though it just went into production recently. We got a lot of email about it.
Nelson Pass told me he didn't really want to produce this because he thought it wouldn't sell. I told him I thought it would sell like a $5.00 prime rib dinner. Well, the report now is that the Western Europeans are grabbing them up as fast as they can be made. We've been promised one for review as soon as they can make one that's not already sold.
Here's another new amp from a big name designer. This time it's John Curl and his new JC 2 preamp (bottom).The Halo JC 2 has a total of six line-level inputs, with two of those switchable for balanced or unbalanced connections. The main output jacks have both balanced XLR connectors and unbalanced RCA connectors. When used with power amplifiers that invert polarity the user can maintain absolute polarity, either by using the rear-panel inverted output jacks or by using the main output jacks and the polarity invert button on the included IR remote control. There are also fixed-level RCA record output jacks for connecting audio recording devices.
The infrared remote control has buttons for on/off, DC trigger activation, polarity normal/invert, volume, mute, and source selection. There are also tuning buttons for the Parasound Halo T 3 FM/AM tuner.
The Parasound Halo JC 2 is now available from select Parasound dealers. It has a suggested retail price of $4,000.
Our Joe DeChamp uses Curl's JC1 monoblocks as his reference. A perfect setup for a review of the new pre. How about it, Mr. Curl?
Hard to resist entering a room that has a stunning redhead outside inviting people in, but we're glad we did. The sound in the coincident room was wonderfully musical, no edge or glare - pure. The speakers are the no-compromise Pure Reference at only $22,000/pr. Pretty cheap for a top of the line big box. The Pure References can be easily driven to concert hall levels by low powered tube amplifiers (3 watts or more) because they possess the 5 requirements which make this possible:
1. High sensitivity (94 db @1m-1 w)
2. Uniform high impedance modulus (flat 8 ohms)
3. Total absence of any hard phase angles (meaning they are absolutely phase coherent electrically)
4. Very tight bass tuning (which makes it easier for low damping factor- high output impedance amplifiers like SETs to control the woofers).
5. Simple first order crossovers which do not rob amplifier power or reduce speaker sensitivity.
The Coincident M300B Frankenstein MK II mono amplifiers were playing. We didn't even know Coindident made amps. Israel Blume told us he's been making speakers for 15 years and amps now for about year. "I can't make the amps fast enough. They are continually back ordered."
The finest 6N copper output and power transformers
All polyproylene power supply
3 tube configuration (6EM7 input driver, 300B output, 5U4 rectifier)
Input and rectifier tubes are the best NOS American. Electro Harmonic 300B Gold Grids are standard. Others available at special discount pricing.
Triangular chassis shape to ensure rigidity
Output Power - 8 watts
Frequency Response - 20hz - 20khz
Input Sensitivity - 1V for full power output
Input Impedance - 100Kohms
S/N Ratio - 90 db
Negative Feedback - 0
Load Impedance - 8 ohms, 16 ohms
AC Voltage - User switchable - 115V or 230V
Dimensions - 12"D x 15" W x 6" H
Weight - 32 lbs. ea.
$5599 Cdn /pr - includes freight
Israel also makes the Dragon (we love these dramatic names) 211PP monoblocks. They feature a 6EM7 super tube for input, 300B Driver Tube (no pentode tubes used in this DHT design), Dual 211 output tubes in a push pull configuration to produce 80 wpc. "They sound more like 150 wpc because of the huge power reserves of the 211's", says Mr. Blume. He also uses Alps volume pots so they can be used sans preamp. $8999 Cdn/pr. includes freight. He was running the $13,000 Audio Aero SACD player direct.
Oh yeah. The speakers were the Pure Reference with 94dB sensitivity and a price of $22,000 - Israel's statement speaker.Like we said at the beginning of this report, it is impossible to critically evaluate a system under show conditions, but we can say this; this system was one of the most memorable of all we heard. First, the big speakers completely disappeared in the rather small room with no apparent, special room treatment. What remained was exactly what the speaker moniker describes - it was pure, and it was reference quality. Israel told us he puts much emphasis on soundstage and imaging in his designs and that is exactly what we heard.The sound was immersive and enveloping. It drew us in and held us captive. Mesmerizing. Captivating. Full range and full scale and linear. At around $30k, this system was far from the most expensive - other systems we heard were north of $250,000, but none was significantly better than this for us.I got to spend some time talking to Mr. Blume and I came away knowing this guy "gets it" and knows his stuff. He also has a consuming passion for music and audio. In short, he made some new fans. Thanks, Israel.
Speaking of memorable, this is an encounter I won't soon forget. The moment I walked into the Magico room, Mr. Magico, Alon Wolf, announces to the crowded room, "Ahh...James Darby of Stereomojo - the guy who didn't like my speakers in New York."
Yikes! Immediately many things flashed in my mind. First, I needed to assess his demeanor. Was his statement a good-natured rib, or was this to be a "Let's all humiliate the publisher guy" session. He was smiling. A good smile - not a smirk. He didn't look angry. OK....go with that. Then, what speaker was he referring to in New York (at the New York Show) and what had I said about it? Next, what, if anything, should I say in return? Or, should I just turn around and quietly exit?
decided to just quietly take a seat in back, but he motioned me to take a seat front and center. Great. My head was swimming with facts, specs, model numbers, prices and sonic impressions from THIS show that I was trying to remember and quantify for this report, so my thoughts about the NY show way back in May were not exactly at the forefront. Miraculously, thank you God, I remembered it was the Mini we had mentioned and I recalled the gist of what I said. This account of what happened next is from memory - I didn't take exact notes or quotes, but this is pretty close to exact.
I could feel every eye in the room on me as if he had just accused me of molesting his daughter. I quietly said, "Alon, I don't think I said I didn't like them, I think I said that for the price and the limited low bass response, I just didn't like it as much as everyone else at the show".
He grinned very engagingly and said, "That's true, but did you know the Mini goes lower than the Wilson Watt Puppy? I'm going to see if i can convert you!" He laughed. So did everyone else. So did I. This was not a "Let's humiliate the publisher" gig. Whew!
"No, I laughed, "I didn't know that. I just remember that in New York, there just didn't seem to be much low end there."
"Yes, well, we had technical issues with the speaker in New York. It wasn't performing up to par."
"Ahh..", I replied, grinning right back as good-naturedly as I could, "Then what you're saying is that I was right!"
"You have good ears. I want to hear what you think of my V3's". Sigh of relief. Changing the subject and moving on. Tension in the room gone.
Alon proceeded to go through what must have been his standard stump speech, describing all the high tech innovations in his V3's. Nano-Tec drivers and the world first "Elliptical Symmetry Crossover" , drivers mounted from the back of the aluminum faceplate so as not to obstruct the curvature of the front plate and cause diffractions. As directly to metal; no veneer or paint, solid wood cabinets beautifully finished.
He also told me about the special playback rig he had built for the show that would play back very high rez audio. I listened carefully and as critically as I could. I was deteremined not to be pressured into saying something I didn't mean. After a quite a long listening session, he asked for my verdict. I was as honest as could be. "Wonderful", I said. And they were. Very impressive. And at $22,800, not substatially overpriced, if at all. They are rated to go down to 33Hz, at least. Bass was solid and dynamic. I liked them better than the Mini's. They did not sound warm and lush - romantic, at all, but they were detailed and threw a great soundstage. Nothing etched or glaring. Nothing strident or unmusical. Very engaging. I'd like to hear them through some Cary tubes.
I did not ask Alon for a review pair, but how about it, big guy? If you want to fully win me over, I'll have to hear 'em at my place! And Alon, thanks for being a class guy. I like your products, but I now have even more respect for you as a person. Thanks.
For the record, there were FOUR Stereomojo staffers that listened to the Mini's at the NY show. Here's what we said:
Andrew: Magico Mini’s in the Goodman’s room. Met again with sales guy Al, who is just terrific- exactly what Goodman’s advertises: An enthusiast sales person who is passionate about his product, personable and low pressure (I had met him earlier this year at the store and auditioned the ML Summits). Playing analog tape through the gorgeous top line VAC electronics at medium volume.
Joe: The new Mini’s cost $27k for the pair (I think that includes the stands) and sound better than the $22k Magico floorstanders Goodmans was playing on Friday. Lowest bass notes are missing in action, but the speakers were commendably flat to around 50Hz. In addition to the quiet classical tape, we played Fanfare for the Common Man (RR CD). This is how I found out the lowest octave was missing. Above that, good slam and timbre. Still, I didn’t see the magic in these speakers, which sounded very good, but did not make me think they’re worth the money. There are plenty of players at this price point now, and most offer better dynamics, slam and extension. Alan Wolff from Magico was on hand to oversee the demo.
Linda: Very attractive speakers. Beautiful wood and finish. Nice sound, but bass is missing. Warm, inviting tube sound.
James: Terrific sound, aided by yet another reel-to-reel machine. Maybe I shouldn’t have sold my Revox B77. Several reviewers have raved about the “Magic Mini’s”, but for $27 large I can think of other speakers I’d own first. Several others – that actually have a low end.
Continue to PART 4
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