It’s nearly midnight and I’m finally back in my room going over my notes and photos form the first official day of the show here in Newport (actually Irvine). The show was seriously packed with people today. The line to get into the show wrapped around the lobby and the line to get into some of the seminars was nearly as long. it was great to see all these people despite the inconvenience of waiting in line.
I started the show this morning with a visit to Auralic to see and hear the new Aries Mini in addition to version 2 of the Lightning DS iOS application. The demonstration was very impressive. [PRBREAK][/PRBREAK]I listened to the analog output of the Aries Mini compared to the digital output of the Aries sent into the Vega DAC. I was surprised at how close the two sounded given the considerable cost and design differences. I’m looking forward to getting the Mini into my system in the not-to-distant future. The updated Lightning DS application was also impressive. One of my favorite features is the ability to sort albums by the import date. I’ve always wanted this feature so I can see the albums I recently purchased. More frequently than I care to admit, I purchase something from a download site and the album gets lost in my collection and forgotten until I stumble upon it accidentally.
After visiting Auralic I headed to the ELAC room to view Andrew Jone’s new $229 loudspeakers. Andrew Jones was THE guy at TAD Labs for 17 years before leaving the company to join ELAC about three months ago. Andrew’s first project for ELAC is this new very inexpensive speaker. Paired with inexpensive cabling and an all in one integrated form Bel Canto, the new ELAC speaker sound wonderful. In fact this may have been my favorite demo of the show thus far. Mastering Engineer Paul Stubblebine was sitting behind me during the demo and noticed a few things the speakers were struggling with, but overall he enjoyed them very much as well. Andrew acknowledged the little issues Paul heard during playback and assured us that the speaker is still in the prototype stage. Without the ears of a Mastering Engineer, listening to familiar recordings he may have worked on, I doubt most consumers would ever notice the tradeoffs this inexpensive speaker has compared to one many times the cost. This is a must hear demonstration for all show goers. Plus, Andrew may be the nicest guy in high end audio, or at least tied for first, so stopping to say hi won’t hurt one bit.
I spent some time listening to a very nice Mbl system this afternoon. One of the most revealing recordings I’ve heard in a long time was payed through this systems. Mbl engineer Juergen Reis recorded pianist Martin Vatter in high resolution a few years ago. Playing through this Mbl system the track was very nice and as revealing as I’ve ever heard it. The Mbl components are certainly not inexpensive, but they are exquisite. Another demonstration that sucked me in was put on by Shelley’s Stereo. They paired Simaudio components with Magnepan .7 loudspeakers and JL Audio subwoofers (crossed over at 80 Hz). After the demo conclude I wasn’t ready to leave. There were no big bass humps in the sound, like so many other rooms, and the Maggies delivered terrific speed and clarity. After the demo the subwoofers were turned off for a brief period of time and I was surprised at how much bass the .7s put out. It seems counterintuitive that a smallish inexpensive panel speaker could have any bass let alone a good amount. Again, this was a really nice demonstration.
I also walked through the headphone section of the show this afternoon. I spotted the exact combination I was looking for, the new HiFi Man HE1000 paired with a Schiit Audio Ragnarok amp and the new Yggdrasil multiunit ladder DAC. Wow was I disappointed! Not with the sound of the system, but because the ambient noise in the headphone area was so loud I couldn’t listen to anything seriously. I’ve been in contact with Schiit about getting a review sample of the Yggdrasil DAC, but so far the company is still trying to fill backorders before shipping out review units. I hoped for a little glimpse of the DAC today, but it wasn’t meant to be.
Note: CA readers please check out the panel I will participate in Saturday. Please bring some good questions :~)
11:30 AM Meet the Editors
Popularly known as the “Reviewer Roast,” Meet the Editors is your opportunity to ask your favorite magazine writers anything about hi-fi, the industry, the reviewing process, or the latest technologies. This interactive Q&A session is not to be missed!
Robert Harley, The Absolute Sound, Moderator Producer: Roger Skoff, VP at Large LA/OC Audio Society
Michael Fremer, analogplanet.com, Editor-in-Chief; Stereophile, senior contributing editor
David Robinson, Positive Feedback Online
Chris Connaker, Computer Audiophile
John Darko, DigitalAudioReview.net
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