California Audio Show - July 27-29th - Oakland, CA

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Comments

  • msgmsg Posts: 5,045
    Nice coverage Drew!!! I like all the info you provided, and then your notes on the space, gear, sound, and funny anecdotes.

    That's a lot of work pulling this info together, and then writing the overviews. You've got good writing skills. I heard @John Megadeth is hiring

    Once you've had some time to get settled, I'll be interested to hear the highlights of what you've learned and whether any of this experience has influenced your own system goals. I have to wonder whether it would me, or whether it would be more an exercise in humility and lead me to the realization that I've reached "good enough" with my systems.

    Still though, the exposure, research, and acquisition here and there makes this hobby fun. Took me a while to come to the realization that it was no longer just about listening to music, which is kind of weird.
    I disabled signatures.
  • joecoulsonjoecoulson Posts: 3,701
    Did you get to hear the Zu’s in action? Thought if so?
    Auralic Vega G1/Rega TT/Denon SACD - Parasound P6 - PS Audio M700x2 - Elac Adante AF-61 - AQ Niagara 5000 - SVS SB16u
  • mhardy6647mhardy6647 Posts: 23,563
    edited July 2018
    Hermitism wrote: »
    Did you bring along a tape measure and measure the room size? What was the ambient temperature of each room? Come on man!

    Barometric pressure is also key. Don't forget that the speed of sound depends upon air density (thus barometric pressure, as well as temperature) -- since a change in the speed of sound will change the wavelength of every frequency, any system tuned for optimal performance at STP (standard temperature and pressure, defined as zero degrees Celsius at a pressure of 760 mm Hg) will sound like complete and total [email protected] at other temperatures and pressures. Every audiophile knows this*

    B)

    ______________
    * and if anyone reading this hasn't heard it for him or herself, well, it goes without saying that your system isn't sufficiently revealing.

    PS This is satire :)
  • ClipdatClipdat Posts: 7,279
    Check page 2, I posted bout the Zu Audio speakers.
    joecoulson wrote: »
    Did you get to hear the Zu’s in action? Thought if so?

    "Electronic music is human sound adapting to indulge technology, and for some, it feels like the signature sound of energy. New and abstract sounds over hypnotic rhythms can conjure vast soundscapes for escape, pleasure, and transcendence."
  • ClipdatClipdat Posts: 7,279
    Unisinger

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    Unisinger UIA-2 Platinum Speaker ($28,880/pair)

    Check out these funky looking speakers! I got to listen to the "Platinum" version at just under 30k/pair. I always wonder how they come up with these prices.

    I didn't spend a ton of time in this room, but I will say that the bass response was great, and the high frequency information seemed to be originating out of thin air. It did not sound like it was coming from the speaker. It was a cool sensation. Must have something to do with the tweeter being suspended like that.

    I didn't really find anything remarkable about the "tone" of the speakers, but even with my limited audition I could hear that they would be great for electronic music.

    I meant to get back to this room on Sunday but unfortunately ran out of time since the show only ran until 4pm on Sunday vs. 6pm like the other two days.

    Still, it was cool to see some unconventional speaker designs at the show!
    "Electronic music is human sound adapting to indulge technology, and for some, it feels like the signature sound of energy. New and abstract sounds over hypnotic rhythms can conjure vast soundscapes for escape, pleasure, and transcendence."
  • joecoulsonjoecoulson Posts: 3,701
    Clipdat wrote: »
    Check page 2, I posted bout the Zu Audio speakers.
    joecoulson wrote: »
    Did you get to hear the Zu’s in action? Thought if so?
    I’m sorry. The pics of the KEF’s threw me.
    Thank You very much. Always loved their style. Good to hear they sound as good as they look.

    Auralic Vega G1/Rega TT/Denon SACD - Parasound P6 - PS Audio M700x2 - Elac Adante AF-61 - AQ Niagara 5000 - SVS SB16u
  • ClipdatClipdat Posts: 7,279
    TriangleArt / Angel City Audio

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    Angel City Audio Seraphim Prime speakers ($25,000/pair)
    TriangleArt Apollo moving-coil cartridge ($8,000)
    TriangleArt Maestro turntable ($7,500)
    TriangleArt Master Reference turntable system ($39,999)
    TriangleArt Osiris II tonearm ($6,800)
    TriangleArt Reference Tube Phono stage ($12,999)
    TriangleArt Reference Tube preamp ($18,999)
    TriangleArt Rhea Reference cable system ($?)
    TriangleArt Ultimate TA-350M tube monobloks (160wpc!) ($59,900/pair)
    TriangleArt TA-200M solid-state monoblocks ($73,000/pair)

    Total cost of gear in the room excluding cables: $252,197

    I really wanted to like this room. The gear was stunningly beautiful. The speakers had a gorgeous deep finish. The fit and finish of everything was above and beyond.

    However, I just didn't care for the sound. Part of it may have been due to the louder volumes that everything was being played it. This was easily the loudest room at the show. There were certain times on Saturday where I was going to walk in for a listen, but as I entered the doorway I could tell it was way too loud for me, and had to immediately just turn around and leave.

    Perhaps these particular speakers weren't the best choice for the room, maybe a larger tower would've been better. When these were cranked up, the tweeters sounded shouty and painful, and the woofers seemed like they were struggling to output the bass frequencies that were being asked of them.

    I will say that I enjoyed chatting with Tom Vu, president of TurntableArt. He was super relaxed and approachable, and patiently answered all of the questions I asked about his turntables. He also graciously played the record I brought with which I sincerely appreciate. I'm a big fan of the design of his turntables. I like how it's so striking and gorgeous that it becomes the centerpiece of a room. Like a high end art piece. Very cool.
    "Electronic music is human sound adapting to indulge technology, and for some, it feels like the signature sound of energy. New and abstract sounds over hypnotic rhythms can conjure vast soundscapes for escape, pleasure, and transcendence."
  • ClipdatClipdat Posts: 7,279
    edited July 2018
    Hey Joe. The Zu speakers were some of my favorite speakers at the show! They're FAST! Music sounds quite quick and zippy, and they sound great with vocals. I also think they had great stereo imaging!

    I will say that I strongly believe you would need to audition them first before buying, they might not be for everyone. I liked them, and my wife hated them! She literally couldn't stand them and left after one track. So I just mean that they may not appeal to everyone's tastes.
    joecoulson wrote: »
    I’m sorry. The pics of the KEF’s threw me.
    Thank You very much. Always loved their style. Good to hear they sound as good as they look.

    "Electronic music is human sound adapting to indulge technology, and for some, it feels like the signature sound of energy. New and abstract sounds over hypnotic rhythms can conjure vast soundscapes for escape, pleasure, and transcendence."
  • ClipdatClipdat Posts: 7,279
    edited July 2018
    Schiit Audio

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    Lyr 3 - http://www.schiit.com/products/lyr-3
    & All of their other headphone amps too! They had at least 7 different listening stations setup.

    I almost didn't stop at the headphone area. I'm not huge on headphone listening even though I own several pairs and an Asgard 2 amp. However, I wanted to tell whoever was there from Schiit how much I enjoy their Saga preamp! I wish they also had a 2 channel room at the show in addition to their headphone setups!

    The gentleman from Schiit was very laid back and cool! Younger guy probably around my age. I think he appreciated me taking the time to share my praise about the Saga. I wasn't planning to take a listen to their gear, but I mentioned Beyerdynamic headphones and he motioned to a pair right in front of me. I'm not a big fan of buying used headphones, using other people's headphones, etc. Grosses me out.

    However, I did take a quick listen. And of course, now I need a pair of Beyerdynamics in my life. Ugh. They just sounded good top to bottom. They sounded even better when I cranked up the volume knob on the Lyr 3. Wow. I closed my eyes and enjoyed.

    Unfortunately I'm not certain on the exact model Beyers I listened to. All I know is that they are silver and I think they were a high OHM model. I've reached out to Schiit to see if they can provide me with the model number!
    "Electronic music is human sound adapting to indulge technology, and for some, it feels like the signature sound of energy. New and abstract sounds over hypnotic rhythms can conjure vast soundscapes for escape, pleasure, and transcendence."
  • ClipdatClipdat Posts: 7,279
    PureAudioProject / Pass Laboratories / Exogal

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    PureAudioProject Quintet10 Stellar and Quintet10 Voxativ, Modular Wall of Sound Open Baffle Speakers ($9,000)
    Pass Laboratories INT-60 integrated solid-state amplifier ($9,000)
    Exogal Comet DAC ($3,000)

    Total setup cost excluding cables: $21k

    This was the first room we visited on Sunday and despite our ears being fresh, it didn't "draw us in" or keep our interest whatsoever.

    It might have had something to do with the lower volume the speakers were being played at. At first I thought that it may just have been a new track starting, and that they would soon adjust the volume accordingly. But no, it stayed at this lower volume. I could see maybe demoing at this volume at the end/after a show, but their room was full of 9 or so people. They really needed a little more current to shine, especially with the amount of bodies in the room.

    Visually, they're pretty cool looking! This was the first pair of open baffle speakers I've heard.
    "Electronic music is human sound adapting to indulge technology, and for some, it feels like the signature sound of energy. New and abstract sounds over hypnotic rhythms can conjure vast soundscapes for escape, pleasure, and transcendence."
  • ClipdatClipdat Posts: 7,279
    PureAudioProject / Whammerdyne Heavy Industries

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    PureAudioProject Trio15 Horn1 and Trio15 Voxativ Field Coil Modular Open Baffle Speakers ($8,000)
    Whammerdyne 2A3 SE model DAA3+ RAM ($6,900)
    Exogal Comet DAC ($3,000)
    Wyred 4 Sound modified Sonos Connect ($900)
    MSB Technologies “Analog” DAC ($6,000)
    Whammerdyne “Whammer Wyre” cabling (provided with purchase of DAA3+ RAM and Truth models)

    Total: $24,800

    These were the second pair of open baffle speakers I've ever heard! Look how great they look! So pretty!

    The sound these were putting out drew us in almost immediately and I think we both kindof knew that were going to have to stay for a song or two. They were being driven by 4wpc. They had a pleasing presentation and stunning clarity. Talk about a black background, wow! An interesting thing about the amp, if you look you can see that the output transformers are separate from the main chassis. Interesting design decision and clearly it does a great job at lowering the noise floor.

    As we took a listen to the classical piece that was being played, thought to myself how real the instruments sounded. It was drawing me in and before I knew it, I was having a strong emotional reaction to the gorgeous strings of the orchestra I was listening to. It was a moody piece and I felt my eyes watering up. So, I'd say if you value a system that can pull emotions out of you like that, then this would be a strong contender.

    As we walked out, I told the reps that this was the most realistic I've ever heard a classical music recording sound. It literally sounded like I was in the auditorium with the performers!
    "Electronic music is human sound adapting to indulge technology, and for some, it feels like the signature sound of energy. New and abstract sounds over hypnotic rhythms can conjure vast soundscapes for escape, pleasure, and transcendence."
  • KennethSwaugerKennethSwauger Moderator Posts: 6,848
    Atmospheric pressure definitely changes the way large planar speakers sound. Electrostatic speakers sound different in Denver than they do in New Orleans.
    "They thought we were too loud, but shoot, I had four army blankets folded over my amp, and the volume level was on 2. I'm used to playin' on 10!" S.R.V.
  • ClipdatClipdat Posts: 7,279
    edited July 2018
    Eigen Audio

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    Von Schweikert Audio E3 MkII ($8,000/pair)
    MasterBuilt Audio Reference Line cables system ($?)
    Critical Mass Systems MAXXUM rack and Center Stage footers ($? If you have to ask, you can't afford it)
    Aurender N10 Caching Music Server ($8,000)
    EMM Labs DAC2X V2 ($18k)
    Ypsilon PST-100 MkII combo valve/transformer preamp ($37,000)
    Ypsilon Aelius II push-pull hybrid monoblocks ($39,000/pair)

    Total excluding cables and rack: $110k

    I didn't know the make/model of the speakers I was listening to at the time, but now seeing that they were Von Schweikert, I can understand why @halo liked the pair that he had.

    I was told that they use a "double ring" radiator tweeter. I did notice some similarities between them and my 703s in the way they presented high frequency information.

    The rep running the room honored my request for some Steely Dan by playing Hey Nineteen! That was some slightly awkward lyrical content, considering that there was also a female rep there. :lol:

    Anyway, these sounded very musical and I spent a decent amount of time in this room. Like the other room that was running Ypsilon electronics, the sound was a little bright/forward for my tastes, but it didn't take away from the musical enjoyment.
    "Electronic music is human sound adapting to indulge technology, and for some, it feels like the signature sound of energy. New and abstract sounds over hypnotic rhythms can conjure vast soundscapes for escape, pleasure, and transcendence."
  • ClipdatClipdat Posts: 7,279
    MIT Cables / Tweak Studio / T+A

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    T+A Pulsar ST20 loudspeakers ($4,400)
    T+A PA 3100 HV integrated amplifier ($13,900)
    T+A MP2500 R multiple source SACD player ($13,000)
    [Subwoofer]? ($?)
    MIT Cables 2C3D Level 3 Bi-wired 10″ Speaker Cables ($6,749)
    MIT Cables 2C3D Level 3 XLR 1.0m ($4,949)
    MIT Cables Predator 3 Noise Devouring power cord 2m ($599)

    Total excluding subwoofer: $43,587

    It seemed a little like an audio show faux paux to have a subwoofer in a room, when every other room with tower speakers didn't have one. I didn't like seeing it, and maybe that influenced my judgement of this room.

    Basically the speakers sounded too small for the room, and they sounded cheap. They weren't throwing anything close to an impressive soundstage. And although the tweeter/high frequency information sounded "good", it just sounded like any run of the mill silk dome tweeter. I looked up the specs just now and read that it's an aluminum dome. Shrug.

    When we first walked in this room, a vocalist was getting to hear her own recording being played back on the system. Her husband/agent excitedly filming it on his phone while making obnoxious loud commentary about where we were and what room we were in. She seemed to liked the way it sounded, FWIW!

    "Electronic music is human sound adapting to indulge technology, and for some, it feels like the signature sound of energy. New and abstract sounds over hypnotic rhythms can conjure vast soundscapes for escape, pleasure, and transcendence."
  • ClipdatClipdat Posts: 7,279
    Eficion

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    Eficion F200 Air-Motion Transformer speakers ($3,400)
    Marantz TT-15S1 ($1,500)
    Line Magnetic LM-502CA DAC ($1,800)
    Exemplar Audio eXception SE Linestage preamp ($4,250)
    Plinius SA103 power amplifier ($7,830)
    VTi garbage rack: (Not worth your time)

    Total excluding cables and cartridge: $18,780

    I generally like an AMT tweeter performance, so I wasn't surprised that my ears seemed to like these as well. They had a nice soundstage, and they kicked out an impressive amount of bass for their size. They look pretty good too! Are they worth the asking price? I don't think so.

    The guy running this room was pretty cool and had a lot of vinyl out and on display for people to play on the setup. He asked me if I brought any vinyl to play and was eager to play one that I had with me, so that was cool.

    I noticed when he played my track that one particular vocal sample that is supposed to come out of the left speaker, came out of the right speaker instead. So I think he had something reversed in the system. I didn't inform him of it though, didn't want to rock the boat or imply that something was "wrong" with his system.
    "Electronic music is human sound adapting to indulge technology, and for some, it feels like the signature sound of energy. New and abstract sounds over hypnotic rhythms can conjure vast soundscapes for escape, pleasure, and transcendence."
  • Tony MTony M Posts: 8,366
    I found humidity affected the sound in my cottage years ago when it was clean and open. It could've been the barometric pressure from a storm band too. Or the pressure on my own eardrums too.

    But I remember clearly, on clear, low humidity nights, the Motown sound and Classic Rock was glorious!

    Great reviews Drew!! Thanks!
    Most people just listen to music and watch movies. I EXPERIENCE them.
  • halohalo Posts: 5,279
    Great reviews Drew :smile:

    Yes, I miss the Von Schweikert VR2's that I sold to my brother (he still has them). They have a silk dome tweeter IIRC. Honestly, one of the best speakers I've ever owned.

    I saw the VS room in 2016 with some very expen$ive speakers (VR-55 AKTIVE @ $60,000) driven (only the tweeters & midrange drivers mind you) by VAC gear. Those speakers featured self contained, powered, subwoofers driven by CIAudio (Channel Islands Audio) amplifiers.
  • HermitismHermitism Posts: 2,596
    Nice job, Drew! I really enjoy seeing all the pictures. You really got close in some of those pictures. Do the people managing the rooms let everyone get within touching distance?
    2.0 - Marantz: PM8005, NA8005 | Polk LSiM703 | PS Audio: Duet, Power Port Classic, PerfectWave AC5 x3 PC | Wireworld Equinox 7 IC | AudioPrism Quietline MkIII x7 | Sanus UF30 | Acoustic Panels, GIK Soffit Traps

    3.1 - Polk: LSiM703, LSiM706c, PSW125 | PS Audio Quintet | VooDoo-Hubbell IG 8300 | Acoustic Panels, Acoustimac Bass Traps

    6.1 - Pioneer Elite SC-05 | Pio BDP-51FD | Polk: RTi8, CSi5, F/Xi3, CSi3 | HSU Research VTF-2 MK4 | PS Audio: Quintet, Power Port Classic | DCF124BW x3 SC | Pangea: AC-9SE x2, 14SE, 14 PC | AQ Chocolate x2 HDMI | M850SW | Acoustic Panels, GIK Soffit Traps
  • ClipdatClipdat Posts: 7,279
    MarkAudio-SOTA

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    MarkAudio-SOTA Viotti 1 speakers (black speakers with gold cones) ($2,495)
    PS Audio Stellar Gain DAC preamp ($1,699)
    PS Audio S300 power amp ($1,499)
    AR HiFi Hi-Res music player AR-M2 ($1,000)

    Total excluding cables: $6,693

    Unlike most rooms that had music playing at a listenable level upon walking in, this room had very quiet music playing. Shortly after we took a seat, the rep started his informational/sales pitch (the speakers use a dual full range driver design) and then a minute later he asked us what we'd like to hear.

    I'm not sure if it was the fact that he had his setup laid out width wise in the room vs length wise like all the other rooms, but this was one of the most unimpressive sounding rooms at the entire show. My entry level Polk TSi100 speakers sound WAY better than these did.

    The sound just had a "ceramic" unnatural sound, and no bass performance to speak of. Nothing good or impressive about the sound. Also I understand the desire to have multiple pairs of your speakers on display, but in my opinion he should've just stuck to one pair, set the room up differently, and been letting them speak for themselves instead of giving a sales pitch.
    "Electronic music is human sound adapting to indulge technology, and for some, it feels like the signature sound of energy. New and abstract sounds over hypnotic rhythms can conjure vast soundscapes for escape, pleasure, and transcendence."
  • ClipdatClipdat Posts: 7,279
    edited July 2018
    The guys running the rooms didn't seem to care at all if you wanted to get up close or behind the speakers. I did see one guy looking intently at something behind one of the speakers, and while doing so actually leaning on the top of the speaker with his left hand.

    I was cringing and thinking to myself "Party foul bro! Don't touch the equipment!", but the room rep said nothing.
    Hermitism wrote: »
    Nice job, Drew! I really enjoy seeing all the pictures. You really got close in some of those pictures. Do the people managing the rooms let everyone get within touching distance?

    Post edited by Clipdat on
    "Electronic music is human sound adapting to indulge technology, and for some, it feels like the signature sound of energy. New and abstract sounds over hypnotic rhythms can conjure vast soundscapes for escape, pleasure, and transcendence."
  • ClipdatClipdat Posts: 7,279
    MartinLogan / Parasound / MIT Cables

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    MartinLogan Expression ESL 13A ($15k)
    Parasound JC5 stereo amplifier ($6k)
    Aurender A10 caching network player ($5,500)
    MIT Cables EVO One speaker interface
    MIT Cables EVO One interconnects
    MIT Cables Predator 3 power cables
    (unsure on cable lengths, so no prices)

    Total excluding cables: $26,500

    This was only my second time hearing electrostatic speakers, the first time being a pair of Martin Logans at Magnolia inside Best Buy. It was nice to be able to reaffirm what I experienced at Magnolia, since that had only given me a very small idea of their sound.

    It didn't take long for me to understand the style of the MLs. The difference in sound reproduction between them and traditional speakers is not subtle. In my opinion once you hear them, you'll know quickly if you like them or not.

    They sound like the sound is coming at you in one big sheet or wave of music. There's a naturalness in the way they sound that is admirable. They are fast and dynamic. I kept wondering how they would sound for electronic music.

    My wife says that there was no directionality in terms of where the sound was originating from. "Normally when you walk into a room, you know immediately where the sound is coming from. But when you walked into this room, it felt like the sound was a mist that was hanging in the air. This mist had it's own texture, temperature (a cool presentation) and no known source.", she said.

    I think she really liked the physics and design standpoint of the MLs. She got a kick out of how you could walk behind them and still hear them making the same sound that you heard in front. On top of that, she really enjoyed the Dire Straits music they were using to demo.

    She was taking photos and videos, and talking to one of the reps while I talked to the other. She even made suggestive comments indicating that we should get a pair, and took a business card for a recommended local shop. Geez. I think she likes the Martin Logan sound! If only we had anything close to the space they require to do them justice.
    "Electronic music is human sound adapting to indulge technology, and for some, it feels like the signature sound of energy. New and abstract sounds over hypnotic rhythms can conjure vast soundscapes for escape, pleasure, and transcendence."
  • ClipdatClipdat Posts: 7,279
    edited July 2018
    A.R.T. / Pass Labs / Dynaudio

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    Dynaudio Contour 60 loudspeakers ($10,000)
    Pass Labs INT-250 integrated amplifier ($12,000)
    Acurus CD-60 CDP (special order, $?)
    A.R.T. Analyst SE Speaker Cable ($16,000/3M pair)
    A.R.T. Analyst SE Interconnect XLR ($9,000/1.5M pair)
    A.R.T. Analyst SE Power Cable ($7,300/1.5M pair)
    A.R.T. Super SE Digital Cable ($2,800/1.5M)
    A.R.T. Super SE Power Cable ($2,950/1.5M)
    A.R.T. Low Frequency Effect A-100s XLR ($9,955)
    A.R.T. Power Distributor ($2,800)
    A.R.T. AC-102 Double Outlet with Clamp ($160)
    A.R.T. Mid-high Frequency Metal Tuning Cones ($2,050/set)
    A.R.T. Low-mid Frequency Wood Tuning Cones ($600/set)
    A.R.T. Low Frequency Wood Tuning Cones ($600/set)
    A.R.T. Q-Damper CD Mat Stabilizer ($250)
    A.R.T. Q-Damper Base Stands ($390/set of 4)
    A.R.T. Q-Damper Big Foot ($1,600/set of 4)
    A.R.T. Synapsis III Audio Stand ($3,900)

    Total excluding CD player: $82,355

    Speaking of temperature and humidity, this room was refreshingly cool and felt great upon walking in!

    This was my first time ever hearing a Dynaudio speaker. If what I heard is representative of their house sound, then I am definitely a fan! It's hard to know for sure though, maybe it was the seriously awesome looking Pass Labs integrated? Or the endless amounts of tweaks (like those three spikes sitting in front of each speaker) and cables being showcased? Hard to say!

    I was asked if I had CD I wanted to play, and I did! It was great to be able to hear a song that I'm familiar with, as well as a big fan of. Mangataot - The Sin And The Fear.

    The sound had a lush and thick (without being syrupy) characteristic to it. It was vivid and palpable. The bass was physically pleasurable to listen to. As the sound washed over me, it was almost intoxicating in nature. I was spellbound and completely lost in what I was hearing. I did not experience this sensation in any of the other rooms at the show.

    Each element of the music was coexisting with the other in perfect harmony. Coherency and soundstage depth for days!

    Toward the end of my song, the rep explained that his company actually makes cables and tweaks and that's what he was showcasing at the show. He rewound my song and played the first 40 seconds or so until the vocalist came in. Then he abruptly stopped it, and said OK, now listen to this. He ejected the CD and took off a mat that he had placed on top of it when he took it from me earlier to play. I did not see him put the mat on earlier, so I had no idea it was in use.

    Then he played my track again without the mat and we again listened to the first 40 seconds or so that we just heard. Before the vocalist even came in, it was obvious to me that the bass didn't sound the same, and that the sound stage width had shrunk. It still sounded pretty good, but it didn't have that same body and coherent quality. Most noticeable to me was the way the bass sounded. It didn't sound as good and give me that same physical pleasure as before.

    Then he stopped the CD again, and put the mat back on top. Then we listened again and all those qualities I noticed at first were back, especially that very unique bass! He let the song play out, and I was loving how I could effortlessly pick and choose to listen to different elements within the song as I saw fit, and how clear and precise each individual element in the song sounded.

    I normally don't subscribe to "tweaks" like this, but it was easy to hear the difference that this mat made to the sound. Of course, it's up to you whether or not that difference is "better"!

    He said it cost $250 but that they're running a 25% off special right now because of the show, so $187.50 plus tax and shipping I'm guessing. By no means an "insta-buy" price, but still something potentially worth considering. I asked about compatibility with different CD players and got some vague responses. I said it would certainly be nice if they had a list of known compatible CD players listed on their website. He did mention that if it didn't work in your player it could be returned for a full refund. However, it still would make me somewhat nervous to try it out for the first time. Additionally, how do you know that a product like this that adds mass to the rotational assembly won't cause undue wear on the CD drive's motor or other components? I don't think there's any way to know that for sure.

    Anyway, this is another one of the rooms that I keep thinking about, due to some unmistakable and unique sensations I experienced during my time in it. What an experience!
    "Electronic music is human sound adapting to indulge technology, and for some, it feels like the signature sound of energy. New and abstract sounds over hypnotic rhythms can conjure vast soundscapes for escape, pleasure, and transcendence."
  • ClipdatClipdat Posts: 7,279
    Joseph Audio

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    Joseph Audio Pulsar speakers ($7,700/pair)
    Bel Canto Design Black EX Integrated amplifier ($15,000)
    Cardas Audio Beyond XL power cables ($?)
    Cardas Audio Clear Beyond speaker cables ($?)
    Cardas Audio Clear Network cables ($)?

    Total excluding cables and speaker stands: $22,700

    This is a room that I was really excited to hear before the show. I really like the design of these Pulsar bookies!

    Ultimately, the sound did not win me over in any way. I think I understand what they were going for in regards to the voicing of these speakers, but as much as I tried to like them, I couldn't. I visited the room on Friday as well as Saturday. Perhaps it was the strange way that they were setup in the room, or a synergy issue with what they were being driven with? Tubes might have been a better option, imo.

    The sound was full bodied and had a nice midrange presence, but the tweeter was a little bright and shouty for my taste. The sound just wasn't pleasant and enjoyable to listen to.

    It's very possible that an inhome demonstration of these would have different results, but from what I heard at the show, not a fan.
    "Electronic music is human sound adapting to indulge technology, and for some, it feels like the signature sound of energy. New and abstract sounds over hypnotic rhythms can conjure vast soundscapes for escape, pleasure, and transcendence."
  • ClipdatClipdat Posts: 7,279
    Zesto Audio

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    Marten Django L speakers ($10,000/pair)
    Zesto Audio Andros Tessera Vacuum Tube Phono Stage ($12,000)
    Zesto Audio Allasso Step Up Transformer ($2,995)
    Zesto Audio Leto 1.5 Vacuum Tube Preamp ($7,500)
    Zesto Audio Eros 300 monoblock Class A power amplifiers ($19,900/pair)
    Merrill Williams Audio REAL 101.2 Turntable ($7,200)
    Tri-Planar U2 (classic 10″) tonearm (two, $7,200 each)
    Benz Micro Gullwing SLR mc cartridge ($3,600)
    Ortofon Cadenza Mono mc cartridge ($1,280)
    Stillpoints ESS42-26-4 Rack ($10,000)
    Stillpoints Ultra 6 Feet (under power amps) ($899 each)
    Cardas Audio Speaker Cables – Clear Beyond ($4,085/2-meter pair)
    Cardas Audio Interconnects – Clear Beyond ($1,875/1-meter pair)
    Cardas Audio Interconnects – Clear Beyond ($2,675/2-meter pair)
    Cardas Audio Power Cords – Clear Beyond ($522/1.5-meter)
    Cardas Audio Phono cable – Clear Beyond ($573/1-meter)

    Rough total: $92,300

    This room definitely didn't sound like $100k, that's for sure! For as many tubes as they had in the mix, it sounded quite solid state to my ears. Meaning that if there was a curtain up and I was asked to guess if I was listening to tubes or solid state, I would've guessed SS!

    There were some things about this room that I liked, specifically the way the inverted ceramic tweeters on the tower speakers were sounding. They were really throwing out a nice soundstage. I also liked the way the inverted domes were presenting on the Margules speakers I wrote about earlier. Looks like I'll need to get my ears on some Focal inverted domes at some point in order to confirm if it's the inverted aspect that I'm liking.

    On the way to the show on Sunday, my wife and I were discussing the Paul Simon - Graceland album. When we walked into this room, that's what was spinning on the turntable! Nice coincidence.

    Anyway, it sounded "good", but certainly not $100k/great. Also, the midrange seemed to be lacking. And if a setup is lacking midrange, then it's hard to enjoy.
    "Electronic music is human sound adapting to indulge technology, and for some, it feels like the signature sound of energy. New and abstract sounds over hypnotic rhythms can conjure vast soundscapes for escape, pleasure, and transcendence."
  • marvda1marvda1 Posts: 3,695
    Amplifiers: MasterSound Compact 845, Ayre v6xe, Consonance Cyber 800,Kinki Studio EX-M1
    Preamp: deHavilland Ultraverve 3
    Transport/Dac: L.K.S MH-DA004, North Star Design USB dac32, Cayin Venus cd-100i,
    Musical Paradise mp-d2 mkI
    Speakers: Rosso Fiorentino Volterra
    Speaker Cables: Organic Audio Organic 2, Analysis Plus Black Mesh Oval 9,
    Cerious Technologies Graphene Extreme
    Interconnects: Analysis Plus Solo Crystal Oval, Analysis Plus Copper Oval-In Micro,
    Cerious Technologies Graphene Extreme
    Power Cables by: Cullen Cables, 6sons Audio, Swiss Cables
  • ClipdatClipdat Posts: 7,279
    edited July 2018
    That concludes the reviews, so it's time for some general commentary and closing thoughts.

    First of all, I had an extremely enjoyable time at this show, it was completely beyond my expectations and overall was an experience that I will never forget.

    My wife also had a great time, here's some commentary she wrote about her experience in the Destination Audio room:

    "My audiophile husband and I spent the day at the California Audio Show, in darkened hotel rooms full of strangers listening to high-end audio setups with vulgar price tags. I didn’t expect to enjoy this whole thing nearly as much as I did. We listened to Stevie Ray Vaughan’s version of “Little Wing” on a $40K turntable and $95K Destination Audio horn speakers. I’ve never heard anything quite so exquisite in my life. I tried to hide the tears rolling down my cheeks because no one else in the room seemed remotely as moved. But DAMN, if I closed my eyes, it was almost like Stevie was right there."

    I have to concur with her assessment of that room. When you played back a well recorded record on those speakers, they really shined. The guitar really did sound 100% real. It was a great experience and a nice way to close out the show. Great choice to bring that vinyl @arthurs!

    With 23 rooms to cover (plus the headphone room), I wish I would have taken a full day off work on Friday. There were a number of rooms that I wanted to get back to and spend more time at on Sunday but wasn't able to, because the show ended at 4pm instead of 6pm like the previous two days. Oh well, now I know for next year.

    The modest $20 ticket price and $18 parking fee for three days, was a small amount of money to pay for this incredible experience. I highly encourage anyone who's into music to go to an audio show at some point. Who cares if a lot of the gear is beyond what you can afford? It's still fun to experience it. And, you get a valuable reference point to help you figure out where your own system is at. Hint: It's probably performing on a much higher level than you think it is. Hearing different setups is going to help you find out about your own likes, dislikes, and overall tastes in speakers and gear.

    It was interesting to me how each room must've thought that their gear/setup sounded the best. Unless they just hit some roadblock during their setup process and couldn't get the room sounding how they'd like it, I suppose.

    Some of the people behind the rooms are worth mentioning as well. There were certain individuals that made the whole experience that much better like Art Smuck @arthurs at Destination Audio. Art has an infectiously positive attitude and was great to talk to!

    Also special recognition goes to Sean Casey at Zu Audio and his impressive assortment of vinyl, and the father and son team running the Margules Group room.

    Now the moment you've all been waiting for, best room/best of show!

    Hands down, my wife and I both agreed, it goes to the Margules Group room.

    37358544_2136155376596685_4420166533276237824_n.jpg

    As good as the Destination Audio horns sounded, the Margules room still sounded better to us. Specifically, the room provided an unmistakable aural sensation unlike any of the other rooms. Their speakers presented a seamless wall of sound that seemed to pressurize the room.

    At the same time, the sound did not appear to be coming from the speakers at all. You've read it in reviews all the time to the point that it sounds cliche, but the speakers literally disappeared. It sounded amazing anywhere in front of the speakers, but when you sat down in the best seat in the room... holy cow. The sound just hit you, and you knew: This was the best sounding room at the show.

    I also asked a buddy I met at the show, as well as a few groups of random people in the elevator what their favorite boardroom was, and everyone said Margules. It'll be interesting to see if they officially win best room once the votes are counted.

    My wife also had some commentary about the Margules room that we'll close with:

    "But, far and away, the best sounding setup came from a family run operation out of Mexico City. Margules Group absolutely blew me away. The quality of sound they were able to achieve was astounding, and I wish I had the words to describe how sitting in their room made me feel. I spoke to the owner and he told me that his goal is to produce products that make you forget about the gear because the sound takes your breath away. Mission accomplished, sir."
    "Electronic music is human sound adapting to indulge technology, and for some, it feels like the signature sound of energy. New and abstract sounds over hypnotic rhythms can conjure vast soundscapes for escape, pleasure, and transcendence."
  • ManticoreManticore Posts: 405
    Thanks Drew, a well thought out and informative insight to the stuff most of us cant afford. Glad you both had a fun time.
    Denon AVR X4200W
    Parasound A23 amplifier
    Parasound A23 amplifier
    LG 65" Ultra HD4k
    LG 4kBR - UP970
    Denon DVM 4800
    Denon DP 3000 turntable
    Saec 308sx tonearm w/
    Dynavector 10x5 cart
    Vincent PHO 701 Phono Preamp
    MIT Avt3 Speaker c's
    Audio Quest Big Sur ic's
    Polk SDA 1C's modded
    Polk LSim 707
    Polk LSiM706c
    Polk RTiA 3's
    Polk 80F/X-RT
    Polk DSW PRO 440wi sub
    Infinity bu2 sub
    "The early Klingon gets the Gagh"
  • HermitismHermitism Posts: 2,596
    Clipdat wrote: »
    As good as the Destination Audio horns sounded, the Margules room still sounded better to us. Specifically, the room provided an unmistakable aural sensation unlike any of the other rooms. Their speakers presented a seamless wall of sound that seemed to pressurize the room.
    I noticed the last pic is of a much larger room. Do you think room size played a part in the Margules room sounding the best? I noticed a lot of room treatments in the pics, but did the smaller rooms sound the worst?
    2.0 - Marantz: PM8005, NA8005 | Polk LSiM703 | PS Audio: Duet, Power Port Classic, PerfectWave AC5 x3 PC | Wireworld Equinox 7 IC | AudioPrism Quietline MkIII x7 | Sanus UF30 | Acoustic Panels, GIK Soffit Traps

    3.1 - Polk: LSiM703, LSiM706c, PSW125 | PS Audio Quintet | VooDoo-Hubbell IG 8300 | Acoustic Panels, Acoustimac Bass Traps

    6.1 - Pioneer Elite SC-05 | Pio BDP-51FD | Polk: RTi8, CSi5, F/Xi3, CSi3 | HSU Research VTF-2 MK4 | PS Audio: Quintet, Power Port Classic | DCF124BW x3 SC | Pangea: AC-9SE x2, 14SE, 14 PC | AQ Chocolate x2 HDMI | M850SW | Acoustic Panels, GIK Soffit Traps
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