Mike Garner, owner and operator of the Tweek Geek (located in nearby Arvada Co), put on a fascinating demo that once again featured the three and one-half-way Vivid K-1 loudspeakers ($25k), Luxman 800 series electronics (including phono stage $4k) and Brinkmann 'table ($10k), tonearm ($4k) and Pi cartridge ($2700).  As large as this suite was, the Vivid model K-1 filled the room with an even tempered performance which is what I have come to expect from these very balanced loudspeakers. The excellent pairing with Luxman electronics of Japan insures a great sonic match that I have enjoyed for over six years right in this very same suite. Usually I see Philip O'Hanlon of On a Higher Note in this room demo'ing with unusually good CDs. He was not present during the few times I came back to this room looking for what new songs he had. Oh well, this suite nevertheless, still stands as one of the highlights of the show. 

 

Your Final System is a newcomer to the retail business (with a fancy name) that demo'd the Von Schweikert VR44s (with self-powered subs $25k). Didn't get a chance to take much photos but liked what I heard even with a brief observation. 

 

            

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I can argue the price but not the performance. Those damn TAD reference monitors ($42k) were once again making wonderful music in the Zesto Audio Wywires suite this year. And once again, I found myself stuck for much longer than I had wanted to compliments of a Zesto Audio preamp ($7500), phono stage ($4300), Merrill-Williams REAL 101 turntable ($7200) with a Triplanar arm ($5800) and Dynavector XX-2 cartridge. I was surprised to see a GamuT D200 solid-state amplifier sounding so, well, analogue (to the point I never noticed it was solid state). Wywires, once again, were the cable of choice for this room as in previous shows. The sound of the Miles Davis in Person at the Blackhawk San Francisco, through this system, was as breathtaking as was this live-date performance of Miles and his band mates. 

 

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All this single-driver technology hype has left me cold. As much as I enjoy them when they're at their sonic best, these type loudspeaker designs for me, ultimately lack the weight of real instruments playing. I cannot emphasis the importance of that one observation. I know, I know, it's about their purity quotient but if it lacks the proper weight, then it's still lacking.

Alfred Kainz of High End Electronics of Apple Valley CA, is a dedicated German audiophile. It is no coincidence that he imports a lot of products from Europe and in this case the Voxativ Ampeggio horn loaded loudspeaker of Berlin ($32,500). When I entered the room, I felt as though I was wasn't going to enjoy the sound as much as I did in previous years due to the change in loudspeakers (Kainz always used the 3-way ARTOS loudspeakers). But I admit, I was wrong and let my preconceived notions get the best of me. There is something very different about the Voxativ that gives it a sense of weight, life and dynamics that I had not heard from a widebander type device. Kainz, using his own music server ($995) was playing a lot of music I was unfamiliar with, but nevertheless, it was a full-bodied approach that he also played LOUD for extra measure. Using a system that featured the KR Audio Kronzilla amplifier ($17,500), P130 preamp and all Synergistic cabling, I can tell say that what I heard was intriguing and has me second-guessing what I actually heard. This only insures that I give this room a second visit when I see them in 'Vegas next year!

One thing I am quite familiar with and cannot live without are the PMR Premium Resonator, and in this instance, the Mk II version that debuted at this year's RMAF. This newer and improved version, to my ears, has noticeably more sparkle, harmonics and a fuller range of tonal hues than the original. I will be reporting on it in the not too distant future.

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It was really nice hearing the Italian-made Eventus Audio Nebula loudspeakers ($65k) in the KT Audio Imports suite. I am delighted to see designer Domenico Fiorentino's products - a staple at the Munich Show - showing more frequently at USA-based events. Based on the room and of course electronics, I have heard these speakers go from super fast to super slow and muddy. This setup was sweet in the highs, organic through the mids with with just a little thickness around the midbass. Also, this was the first time I heard the Nebula's driven with tubes and vinyl which gave a wonderful feel to the music. Bravo. 

Tom Vu, the man behind KT Audio Imports is also the man behind the Triangle Art turntable. This, the Reference SE version weighs a hefty 275 lbs, sports a solid aluminum platter that's hand-made by Mr. Vu himself. Lastly, the controller is designed by Walker Audio. Most impressive however is Vu's asking price: $16,500 (without tonearm)

Vu also imports the NAT Audio Magma mono blocks ($44,900 pair) from Serbia. Using the ultra-rare 450TH Eimac direct heated triode tube, NAT boasts the Magma as the most powerful SE power amp in the world.