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T.H.E Show Newport


harmonica2
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I went to T.H.E. Show in Newport Beach yesterday with two friends. This was my third visit, and there will definitely be a fourth.

 

If you are going today, one room I think you should definitely check out is the Salk/Shiit demonstration.

 

An affordable pair of Salk Song 3 towers are powered by a top-of-the-line Shiit Ragnarok amp and Yggdrasil DAC (a $6000 system). I sat next to Jim Salk who admitted that he was skeptical that a 60W amp (at 8 ohms) could accurately demonstrate his speakers, but the results are magical. His speakers run at 90Db, so there was headroom to spare. If I had to guess, I think most of the magic was in the DAC, which produced a velvet sound with analogue punch and warmth.

 

Jim Salk and the guys from Shiit are also friendly and (most importantly to me) passionate about their gear without being "sales-y".

 

And I say this every year, but please check out Venice Audio's Harbeth/Naim demonstration. Ask Peter to play some classical, and you'll understand why I bought a pair of Harbeths from him. Wonderful gear and wonderful taste in music.

Bluesound Node 2-->LFD LE Mk V-->HSU VTF-1 Subwoofer (via high-level inputs)-->Harbeth P3ESR

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A walkthrough with pictures.

 

 

Love this: "ELAC had two small rooms and they really need to get one much, much, much bigger room next year because this was maybe the most popular room of the show. Probably because it's the only speakers most people actually have a shot at buying."

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I didn't hear anything at the show (forgive the pun) that blew me away. However, I agree about the Schiit and Salk room. It was the biggest surprise relative to expectations.

 

As for other observations....

 

Positives

 

1. Great interaction with Dan at Modwright. Definitely a brand I would recommend based on designer and sound. Room has sounded good at every show I've attended.

 

2. Wells Audio was impressive. Again, the designer and sound were high quality, plus the prices were much more affordable. Beat rooms that were multiples of that price.

 

3. Ayon. My friend has a full Ayon and Lumen White setup like their demo. Both are very impressive. It's easy to call the stuff overpriced, but compared to how bad and expensive other options are, I'd say it's ok value.

 

4. Seminars. An expert on room treatment did a seminar which was nice. You should always try to solve room issues with acoustical treatments versus equalization. Also, as I've said for a long time and he echoed, get rid of that coffee table between you and the speakers. Still point room treatment devices seem to provide a measurable difference in the demo room.

 

5. Vanessa Fernandez album When the Levee Breaks. Must buy

 

 

Negatives

 

1. Synergistic Research demo. What a joke. This guy puts top notch speakers and electronics (magico, Berkeley, and soulution) and tries to convince you it's these stupid squares the size of 2 shoe boxes that make it sound good. Ironically, the room treatment seminar was right across the hall where actual physics were discussed, not voodoo marketing and a demo filled with NLP tactics. What's crazy is that he was supposedly doing an A/B demo, but a couple times he would swap out in the middle of the song, then say "let's just pick up where we left off" in the song versus rewinding to get a true apples-to-Apples comparison.

 

2. German Physiks. The guy was rude and a joke. He wanted to play Patricia Barber snapping her fingers and brag about his speakers. I understand some clowns who are show participants want to play something so ridiculous as a demo, but when the guy representing the speakers chooses this type of thing to specifically brag about, I lose interest. When the guy is rude on top of that, I blacklist them period.

 

3. Lots of brands weren't at the show and tube gear was MIA.

 

4. Price to performance ratio is getting worse. At this point, it's shameless what people are charging for cables, electronics, and speakers.

 

5. Vandersteen 5a room with Vermouth(?). I had the guy play a track I was very familiar and the bass was clearly gone. Either the bass terminals on the speakers were wired out of phase or he forgot to plug in the bass amps...who knows...but it was clear the bass was totally missing - not just weak. I intentionally didn't say anything, but would pop my head in a couple more times over the weekend just to see if the guy noticed. He was always in the same chair and off axis, head down, robotically playing tracks, with almost no interaction with visitors, so I think he never noticed or cared. I will point out again that this wasn't a Vandersteen guy and their speakers were fine in other rooms. I think this was the guy for the electronics running the room, which of course cost $30k for an amplifier. I guarantee he sold none based on that demo room, unless he noticed the issue at some point.

 

6. Bryston 3 channel processor. While the Maggie's did great in the demo for $600pair. The addition of a center and converting 2 channel material into a third by Bryston is just an attempt to get people to buy an extra speaker/amp. It's totally unnecessary and worse. I know this for a fact because one of my systems is a full Maggie HT combined with a two channel setup. Only DTS, Dolby, and other formats with intentional center channel info should be used with a center channel...otherwise it's worse by far.

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Wish I could have attended this year. This and RMAF are the two best.

- Mark

 

Synology DS916+ > SoTM dCBL-CAT7 > Netgear switch > SoTM dCBL-CAT7 > dCS Vivaldi Upsampler (Nordost Valhalla 2 power cord) > Nordost Valhalla 2 Dual 110 Ohm AES/EBU > dCS Vivaldi DAC (David Elrod Statement Gold power cord) > Nordost Valhalla 2 xlr > Absolare Passion preamp (Nordost Valhalla 2 power cord) > Nordost Valhalla 2 xlr > VTL MB-450 III (Shunyata King Cobra CX power cords) > Nordost Valhalla 2 speaker > Kaiser Kaewero Classic /JL Audio F110 (Wireworld Platinum power cord).

 

Power Conditioning: Entreq Olympus Tellus grounding (AC, preamp and dac) / Shunyata Hydra Triton + Typhoon (Shunyata Anaconda ZiTron umbilical/Shunyata King Cobra CX power cord) > Furutec GTX D-Rhodium AC outlet.

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I almost forgot the "best" part. The High Fidelity cables demo was the most confusing thing I ever witnessed.

 

At RMAF, he claimed XLRs are bad because no signal can be equal going through 2 different conductors. Thankfully, he changed his tune and was offering XLRs now, but when I reminded him what he said at RMAF, he couldn't remember.

 

Will he say anything to suit his narrative?

 

Well, his demo is based around showing how magnets affect light from a bulb and CRT. He implies that the exact same thing happens with audio signal, so I simply asked him "If you put that same magnet up to audio cables, will the signal distort or get redirected just like the light in the demo." We tried just that on the system in the next room, and we both agreed NOTHING happened to the audio.

 

So...how can a magnet have a positive impact in moving an audio signal where you want if it doesn't have a negative impact when directing it the wrong way?

 

Also, he was selling magnets you plug into your outlet, but they are parallel devices and don't have anything plugged into them. Thus, how does a magnet not even in series help conductivity? Shouldn't it hurt conductivity based on the design of his other cables where magnets are in series?

 

How can you have it both ways? I'm still confused and wondering how others weren't asking these same questions in the demo.

 

To me, the demo did more harm than good.

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Overheard in the ELAC room: "I've never heard of a 4 incher causing this much excitement!"

Speshal - I also heard the Synergistic Research demo and agree that the improvements were subtle at best and the placebo effect at worst.

Great writeup Master! However, I didn't think the "Eddie" sounded very good, and my friends felt the same way. This was a huge disappointment for me personally because, as a proud owner of the DDA-100, I was looking forward to speaking with the NuPrime guys who were partners in that room. I was a bit by my conversation with Jason Lim, but that probably deserves its own post once I get my thoughts together.

Bluesound Node 2-->LFD LE Mk V-->HSU VTF-1 Subwoofer (via high-level inputs)-->Harbeth P3ESR

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A walkthrough with pictures.

 

 

 

"Won't comment on the sound because the room was awful and they were playing some stupid stand up bass track. Blau-pau-bum-bum-dumdy-dum-blum-pow-pow-boom-bau-bau-bau. Seriously, if you sit at home with a scotch and a cigar and listen to some stand up bass then...congratulations, you're a white guy."

 

"This room gets the award for best arrangement of plants and cloth in between speakers."

 

"These Focals were not being played, but they look cool. Like they'd be cool if you were an up and coming stock broker on wall street and you had these in your trendy apartment that has huge windows and you walk around naked because you're in shape because you take care of yourself. You eat right, you get up at 5:00am and workout, you don't smoke, you rarely drink. You know exactly what you want and how to get it and everyone knows they'd be foolish to stand in your way because you're going to the top and you WILL make partner before 40, goddammit. This is that kind of speaker."

 

Awesome. My new favorite reviewer.

Synology DS1515+ >  PS Audio P10 > Innuos Zenith Mk II running Roon Core > IsoRegen/LPS-1 > Lyngdorf TDAI 2170 > Tekton Double Impact Speakers

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A walkthrough with pictures.

 

 

Hey guys,

 

Apologies... but I'm not the reviewer.

 

Came across the article on reddit and shared it.

 

All credit to the original reviewer.

Next to the Word of God, the noble art of music is the greatest treasure in the world - Martin Luther

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