RMAF 2011 Part 5

 

FUNK

 

New Funk Firm Saffire (sapphire bearing) turntable fitted with the Funk Firm FXR-II tonearm - $5,000

 

MUSIC CULTURE

 

   

 

 

 

 

MC is not a new company, it was started several years ago by the former designer at MBL.

They've had problems taking off for some reason and have gone through some leadership changes.

We have requested reviews in the past but got nowhere. Maybe that's why...

 

POP QUIZ!

 

 

Here's a quick little test to see if you've been paying attention.

 

QUESTION:

 Which of the two products pictured above was present in almost every room and which was almost non-existent?

Easy answer. The reason we took the picture of the CD's is that we were surprised to see them in a room. It's almost useless to even take a demo CD with you these days because everyone is using some sort of music streamer or a Mac laptop driving a DAC. This year we took a USB thumbdrive that was much more useful than a CD.

But Itunes, the predominate music player, is not good enough these days. Almost every MAC was running Amarra, a computer program that greatly improves the sound coming out of your MAC or going to your DAC.

This was also a common sight. Remote controls are becoming obsolete, too. Now people are using iPads or phones to control their stereos and program music. And why not since you can sit in your listening spot and pull up CD tracks or complete albums or hi-res files from your entire collection instantly. Burning mix CD's is no longer necessary since you can just drag any track from any album into a play list while the others are playing. We often have 4 hour listening sessions without ever having to leave the chair. No more getting up and down and searching through shelves of CDs or LPs, it's all at your fingertips. Heck, you don't even need those shelves anymore. The biggest advancement in audio in a generation.

In addition, how many new CD players do you see in this report? They are not being produced very much any more. Why? Just go into any Barnes & Noble or Walmart or any other place you used to see aisles and aisles of CDs and see how many CDs are there now. Floorspace is being replaced by DVDs or washing machines. CD sales have plummeted and are tanking more and more. We predicted this 4 years ago. With places like Itunes and Emusic selling billions of mp3's and others like MOG where you can stream CD quality music from "the cloud" or other cloud entities like Apple and Amazon where you can load your own CD's to play from anywhere, why would anyone want the inconvenience of physical disks?

Stereomojo is the first to announce that we will not being reviewing any further dedicated CD players. We get many requests every week to review certain products; amps, speakers, DACs, turntables etc. We cannot remember the last time anyone asked us to review a dedicated CD player - dedicated meaning it only plays CDs and nothing else. We may also be the first to assign a Senior Editor for Computer Audio which we did last year with Dr.. John Richardson.

And here's another prediction: MP3, FLAC, Apple lossless and the like will also fade away as the prevailing format will be DSD.

ANGEL CITY AUDIO/MELODY

 

Angel City, California distributor of mainly Melody amps and Onix products, had one of the most attractive displays,

especially since the lights were kept very low in the room.

 

Hugh Nguyen, owner of Angel City, was playing a pair of Melody M845 monoblocks (pictured above), a preproduction sample of the ACA Balance Power Supply, and some fine sounding prototype cables. Hugh was one of the small group that actually had a CD player, the Onix we reviewed last year. The Melody monoblocks, gorgeous in their stealthy high-polished black finish, are 21 wpc SET using a big, lovely sounding 845 tube. The preamp was the Melody Pure Black 101 preamplifier. Tube of course.

Huhg also showed his ultra-bargain integrated amp that he was giving away...um....selling for $1,549 at the show.

Regularly $1,929. It has 4 KT88s, 4 6SJ7's and two 6AK5's with remote producing 32 wpc. Sweet.

Hugh Nguyen has also designed his own speakers, the Trinity LCR. 2-way with a Vifa XT concentric ring radiator and two custom 7" woofers. Freq. response, 40Hz - 37kHz. At 90 db sensitivity, it was easy to drive them with the 21 watt monoblocks. The Trinity is only $1699/pr as an introductory price. Next year they will be $2699.

 

 

ODYSSEY AUDIO

Klaus Bunge is one of our favorite people in all of the high-end. He's hilarious as you can see.

 

 

And he and his partner Alex Gonzalez are also two of the most brilliant guys in all of audio, too.

It's a lot easier to make products that sound great and cost many thousands of bucks than to make them that sound great and cost pennies compared to those others. We know his products sound great because we've just finished listening to a complete system with tube preamp, TWO 100 watt mono blocks amps, a pair of floorstanding speakers and even some high quality German cables to connect everything. Total price for the whole system is a little over $5,000!  And it's all available in your choice of colors.

The review will be published soon, but we can tell you that the Odyssey system is one of the best values we've heard.

And guess what. It's all made in Indianapolis, Indiana USA...

...as witnessed by this sign that appears in their room. Yes, they took some heat for being so politically incorrect, but hey, so are we!

This year they were playing their most expensive, top-line components  like the 150W Kismet hybrid Integrated Amplifier (with two separate pieces) at a remarkable $3,500. Klaus told me that it basically combines two Khartago 110 watt power amps (the ones we had) and a new, very high-end tube preamp in a more dressed up chassis with chrome towers at the corners. Unbelievably at this price, there are two full-sized chassis that contain the outboard power supplies with separate transformers for the power amps and preamp. If you know of ANY integrated anywhere near this price with two separate chassis and 110 watts per side that is NOT Class D, please let us know.

And yes, we will be reviewing it asap!

Klaus and Alex also introduced a new speaker, the Kismet Reference Monitor at only $3,500/pr WITH the custom stands included. A simple two-way, they use the high-end ScanSpeak Revelator 4531 for the low end and the new Beryllium tweeter by ScanSpeak.

Just before coming into the Odyssey room, we were in another room where another stand mount speaker was playing, this time driven by around $250,000 of electronics, not a $3,500 integrated.

 

COMPARISON and a little EDITORIALISING
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Here it 'tis. What do you think? Maybe looks a little more finished than the Odyssey above. But we thought the Odyssey sounded a lot more natural with more soul. This speaker sounded rather sterile and cold compared to the Odyssey. In fact we thought this speaker sounded less realistic than a lot of small speakers like the LSA, the Evolution .5 coming next or several others we've profiled in this report.

Now what if we show you this:

Uh huh. The new Magico Q1. Can you guess how much this pair costs?

Try $25,000. And they have been raved about all over the place. I don't know. We don't get it.

We were able to hear our Stereomojo Ultimate Evaluation Disk on these speakers thanks to Mr. Wolf, and we just were not impressed. And we were not alone in our opinion. Magicos might make great studio speakers, but even there they might sound too mechanical and analytical.

By the way, we're not talking behind anyone's back here. Mr. Darby told Magico's Irv Gross this at the show.

The best way to describe the Magico sound, as well as the YG (more later on them) and other such types, is that listening to them is like

looking at an Xray of a beautiful girl instead of the beautiful girl herself.

Which do you prefer?

Listen, we're not picking on Magico. There are other smallish speakers that cost as much as more. And there are $20,000+ we've reviewed that we think are worth every penny like the  Legacy Whisper XD and the Nola Baby Grands. It's not the dollar amount. It's just what you get for it.

So we're not saying people that spend $25,000 on a pair of Magico Q1's are nuts.

Wait....

Yes we are.

 

EVOLUTION AUDIO

 

Okay. Case in point. Here's a small, stand mount speaker that is rave worthy; The Evolution Audio MMMicroOne.

We think it not only sounds better, but looks better than the little Magico, and this one is all of $2,500 including matching stands.

The sound of these speakers is staggering. It was being driven by the DartZeel integrated amp. In fact, it was the exact amp that had been at the Darby's a couple weeks before. They have the Evolution MMini Two's at the moment. At $22,000 or so, they cost about the same as the...nevermind.

Jonathan Tinn, another great guy by the way and Maestro of Blue Light Audio, promised us we'd get the first pair of these

when they are ready. And he never lies. We can't wait.

 

Jonathan has also come up with their own computer playback system called Emotion.

Pretty cool and we're anxious to learn more.

A priceless rebuilt and upgraded Studer tape machine, one of Jonathan's many amazing sources.

 

BEYOND FRONTIERS

 

We recently did the world's first review of this company's new Tulip Integrated amp/DAC. You can see it in silver on the floor.

It's had a slight upgrade, if you can call adding two more complete amps to it "slight". That's right. Wanna bi-amp your speakers?

No problemo with the new Tulip since it has four discreet amps inside. And they didn't increase the price. Crazy.

 

They also gave us a private preview before the show opened of their new DAC.

Absolutely killer. Look for our review when's it's finalized.

 

Holy crap!

So much info, and you guys are kinda funny, too

Is there more?

 

OF COURSE! This is Stereomojo!

Go to part 6

 

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