Rocky Mountain Audio Fest 2009 Show Report
Another Chinese tube specialist showed new amps - this time in three colors.
These are the FX10 Integrated tube amps from Joilda. They make about 12 wpc at 8 ohms through 2 self biasing matched pairs of EL84's and 2 12AX7's.
They even have a remote control. They cost an amazingly low $450 - so low our Clark Hertz, Senior Editor for Canada, bought one on the spot to take home with him.
"I was looking for something good and inexpensive for the bedroom system", he reports.
Looks like he found it and those tubes will help in the Canadian winters, right Clark?
Jolida JD3000B preamp & JD502BRC integrated
Brian Warford of LSA consistently has one of the best sounding systems at every audio show
and this year was no different. They showed a new CD player prototype running into a John Tucker
modified DAC and their phenomenal Monitor One "Statement" speakers. Power came from a highly regarded and Stereomojo Maximum Mojo Award winner
LSA Standard Integrated amp.The 77 pound monster is the best of both amp worlds with a a tubed preamp section powering a good solid state power amp all in one chassis.
We could have stayed in here all day.
"Nonintrusive" is the word the they used to describe this wafer thin floorstander from Swiss company Audiomanufacture. We can verify the high Wife Acceptance Factor both from Mrs. Darby and another woman who was there listening to the speaker with us. They like. They are $15,000/pr including a digital crossover.
There's more to these twigs than meets the eye though, inside they look like this.
Solid American Black Walnut, carved out using CNC.
1 x 18-cm bass-midrange driver with 6 times C-37 lacquered
Double 18-cm subwoofer drivers, either configured passively with built-in crossover or for an active setup
with external, fully adjustable digital crossover, feeding a power amp of your choice.
Double 8-cm titanium cone tweeters, covering a very wide frequency band and
offering a breathtaking detail resolution.
The sound was clean and quick with no trace of "music coming from a box". We like.
The Nottingham Turntable company has a droll sense of humor. This model is not new, we were told they were "re-introducing" it.
Do you get the joke? The model name is the "ana-log". See the log? Get it?
Sascha Obad, Kig of the Kingrex world in North America, got an award from us at the Montreal Show. The John Blue speakers we reviewed
last year were well spoken of. The new pre and power amps from Kinrex have gone decidedly uptown with very cool looking cases, knobs and even a transparent acrylic front on the new Quintessence power amp with a 7.5A high current toroidal transformer backed up by a pair of Nichicon Gold Tune capacitors totaling at 9,400 uF. 50 wpc @ 8 Ohms for $799.
The PREference preamp is a two piece design with an isolated power supply and even an optional phono section with MM and MC circuits.
“Tikandi” is an indigenous Australian word meaning “live”, said Larry Owens. These new speakers from Legend Acoustics were very impressive and very sophisticated.
The full Tikandi system comprises:
1. A stereo pair of newly-designed Legend 3-way loudspeakers in which each driver has been chosen from the world's best.
2. Each high quality driver is individually connected to its own amplifier leading to greater control and speed of response.
3. DEQX's patented new generation of HDP-3 preamp/correction processor that precisely calculates the compensation required for each loudspeaker driver as well as correcting for non-linearities in your room’s response.
Each loudspeaker consists of two modules to reduce their interaction. The modules are a truncated pyramid with non-parallel walls to diminish standing waves within the cabinets.
The lower base module has two 10-inch bass drivers which have almost 1-inch of excursion capability providing bass down to a low 20 Hz. The drivers are located in opposing faces of the cabinet in a bipolar configuration. This arrangement essentially cancels cabinet vibration.
The top module houses the midrange and tweeter drivers. The midrange cone is made from an anodized Al/Mg alloy diaphragm that is extraordinarily light yet exceptionally strong. The tweeter's ultra-strong ceramic and aluminium substrate composite dome achieves equally low distortion.
Connection to these drivers allows for a number of flexible options for the amplification required for DEQX-HD's active implementation:
a. Use the superb Marantz MM8003 8-channel amp to provide 125W amplification to each driver.
b. Use two DEQX HDA-3.4 four-channel amplifiers to provide 150 watts amplification to each Tikandi driver.
c. Each base module can be supplied with class D amplifier modules to drive its bass drivers in parallel; while a DEQX HDP3-300 with its 4 built-in Hypex amp modules is used to drive the top modules.
d. You may supply your own amplification to each driver.
e. Mixing and matching any of the above options.
As we said at the top of this report, one of the fastest growing trends in the high end is the use of digital crossovers and DSP (digital signal processing). We know that many purists cringe when the "D" word is used, much less part of a product's features. We used to be in that camp because digital in its earliest days was pretty crdue. But processing power and cleaner more pristine circuits have improved so much that they are virually transparent and allow much more flexibility in room acoustics matching that analog just can't match. Digital crossovers have been used in the recording industry for many years. Some of your favorite recordings have probably been mixed and mastered on such systems. Digital still has a way to go, but even today we think you should at least give it a chance and not turn your nose up when considering a new speaker system.
James & Linda almost walked right past this room, but their aching feet and those overstuffed leather chairs were just too tempting.
What we have here is audiophile, near filed listening system built into an electrically adjustable lounge chair. There is also a surround sound version, but they were most impressed by the two channel model.
The speakers are small proprietary monitors mounted right on the chair via Kimber Cable. A subwoofer is under the bottom cushion where it can be both heard and felt - if desired.
There are three Class D amps built in for power. Knobs for adjusting volume and bass & treble are built in the right arm along with an Ipod dock. There's even a wireless receiver. Two other buttons placed conveniently at your fingertips adjust the footrest and reclining.
You may think having the speakers right "in your face" would be awful, but nearfield listening is anything but that. The speakers completely disappear and the sound seems to come from way across the room or right inside your head, depending on how the music was recorded. When we say "inside your head", to James it sounded "like the best pair of headphones he's ever heard" on a very intimate Nora Jones cut. Orchestral music however was spread out seemingly 15 feet out in front of the chair. "I wouldn't throw away my reference system in favor of this, but....", he smiled. We hear he did ask how much it would cost to ship one of these to Florida, to which Linda chirped, "Only one?"
Take a guess as to the retail price of this amazing device. We were surprised to hear that the whole deal costs $3,995.
Oh yes, there's a headphone jack too, in case you need privacy. And it even has...cupholders!
From small monitors in chair to speaker that are big, bigger and...
Stereomojo asks for and gets email from all over the world requesting reviews from our loyal readers. When we say all over the world, that is a fact. Webstats show us that 57% of our average of 2,500 unique visitors each day come from overseas! One of the most requested speaker lines we get from readers is this one: Legacy. A lot of people want to know what we think of them, so we put them at the top of our list of "Must hear" products in Denver. We walked into the very large room at 5:30 and left at almost 7:00. The show closes at 6, so we want to thank Bill Dudleston yet again for sticking with us after a very long day.
The top picture focuses on the Whisper HD on the outside in cherry and the Focus SE in the Black Pearl.
Whisper retails at $16,500 in cherry and the Focus SE goes for $8,850. Cabinetry on both models, all three for that matter, were finest furniture grade.
The other system pictured is their flagship Helix at $46,000 that includes the 8-channel 24 bit digital processor.
We listened to several demo tracks Bill played for us on the Focus SE pair, then we listened to almost the entire Stereomojo Ultimate Evaluation CD on the 235 pound (each) Whispers.
James said, "When I first looked at all those drivers, I wondered how they could be even a little bit cohesive and linear", but they were surprisingly good in both areas. Like big Wilson's, the Whispers especially moved a lot of air, producing a huge soundstage with good detail and trasparency. Where they really excelled was in their wide dynamic range and overall impact through the 10 driver, 4-way system.
"Very authoritative", he remarked. Four differential 15" woofers assured solid bass that was not boomy or uncontrolled. The 4.5" ribbon midrange looked tiny among all the big cones. "I feel like I'm back in a recording studio listening to the big in-wall monitors", Darby observed. What the Whispers and the Focus lacked was that last ounce of micro detail and texture that the finest speakers such as electrostats and other conventional speakers, usually at very high prices, provide. But then there are always tradeoffs, and what sound you get from these over 5 feet-tall speakers for $16,000 is very impressive.
Then we moved to the huge Helix models and the first 30 seconds of the Stereomojo disk revealed the presence of the micro detail and texture we missed in the other two. The Helix stands at 75" tall and weighs more than Ophra Winfrey when she goes off her diet - 300 pounds! Now we know why our readers wanted us to hear these and review them. A pair of the Whispers will be on their way to us in about 6 weeks, they told us.
Stereomojo was honored to be the very first to review a Teres turntable - any Teres turntable - and we liked it a lot.
This is Chris Brady's latest, the Certus 440 with the new Illius arm. Like several tables at the show, it was running the new Soundsmith Sussuro cart. Figures since the table was shown in the Soundsmith room.
The arm is priced at $4850 and the table, a direct drive model, starts at $14,500.
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