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Impressions of the California Audio Show (CAS4)

After a week of travel, I arrived at the show early Sunday morning. Last day – maybe everything is tuned and locked in. For the most part, it was.

Given lack of time and energy, I decided to dispense with my normal “play these 3 tracks so I can evaluate” rigor, and just listen and enjoy.

Here’s what I encountered:

  • The new venue is much improved. Bigger rooms, more luxury, and I heard no complaints about power or noise. Well done.stwit2
  • The star of the show for me was the Enigma “Sopranino” supertweeter (link). Wow. I didn’t need test tracks to hear the remarkable sonic improvement that it afforded the Magico host. And not just air on top. Richer harmonic structure, more dynamic contrast, and greater integration of the soundstage. I could have sworn that a better DAC was inserted! $3600. I must try these with my Quad’s.
  • Piraeus Audio’s (link) Athena active loudspeakers rocked, both literally (his music collection was 98% rock) and figuratively. I could find little to fault in the sound and I love the concept – digital-in to the speaker. Of course, this architecture renders the system niche (except maybe in a studio), and the 24/96 limitation doesn’t help either. $18K I think.
  • At the low(er) end, the LRE Audio (link) Fourier speakers demonstrated quite credible sound for less than $2K/pair. Unique enclosure design can be wall-loaded. Oddly, they are meant to be driven by an AV receiver. Probably also niche, esp given the industrial (at best) standard finish. Still, I admire the innovation and low price point.
  • I really enjoyed the time that I spent with Steven Lester, a local AV consultant (link) who specializes in 2-channel plus video. Steven’s absolute passion for this listening mode was only exceeded by the tremendous wealth of audio-related video content that he has on his 30 TB of hard drives. I literally had tingles while watching the vid that he had chronicling the recording of a Bernstein show tune from West Side Story. (Leonard B ended up in tears too describing it.) Magical.

So this was for me a show whose stars were at the fringes of our hobby. This made it exciting instead of merely enjoyable. The improved environment didn’t hurt either.

I also saw a fair number of younger listeners, perhaps drawn by the headphone exhibits.

A very enjoyable Sunday.


Edit: The reason for the Yamaha receiver was that the LRE speakers require EQ (“room correction”). No wonder Jason and I thought that their frequency response was so well-balanced.

Tuesday, August 13th, 2013 Audiophile, Events

4 Comments to Impressions of the California Audio Show (CAS4)

  1. Hey Bob, thanks for being bold enough to mention the LRE speakers. At a “low-end” price I didn’t think anyone would have the balls to comment on them. I too thought (especially for the price) that they sounded impressively accurate and would be more than appropriate for anyone looking for something special in that price range.

  2. jhorn on August 13th, 2013
  3. Sure thing. The LRE’s were also very dynamic. The owner wants to do an event. We shall see…

  4. Bob on August 13th, 2013
  5. I’d love to attend an event.
    When I listened, I wanted more volume. I thought they sounded better as the volume went up (okay, many do) but didn’t spend enough time hearing enough out of them.
    I loved the Legacy Aeris speakers too- Same price range, but only enough built in amplification for the Sub woofers.

  6. anomaly7 on August 13th, 2013
  7. Bob,
    I also enjoyed the LRE speakears. Talking to Jim Suhre, he told me these are build by himself, in his house – hence the low-end finish. Most of the work, I believe, is done on modifying the drivers – they are open in the back, or minimally loaded, and the top of the speaker cabinet is open. To run the drivers like that, he had to select drivers with a larger Q.

    On other rooms, I liked the Acoustic Zen Crescendos being driven by Triode Corp. monoblocks – very musical sound, clear and enjoyable.

    I also enjoyded the AudioNote room on the third floor – Ongaku amp, and the most expensive speakers from AudioNote -good for rock, bass, drums – not sure about classical though.

    Also, the Vivid Giya speakers (incredibly ugly for some), driven by a VTL integrated, and an assortment of VTL and DCS gear, and a Brinkman Bardo turntable (not sure which cartridge), was delivering one of the best sounds in the show, particularly with vinyl. Someone brought a pressing of Illinois Jacquet’s “Swing’s the Thing” , which was a revelation in that system.

    I also went to two of Cookie’s live recording sessions.

  8. antenor on August 16th, 2013