Capital Audio Fest Page 2

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RETHM SPEAKERS / AMPSandSOUND Electronics

Greeted warmly by Jacob George, speaker designer – this is a most interesting-looking speaker and one that I’ve seen photos of yet not had an opportunity to listen to previously during audio shows. Interestingly, the exhibitor was forced to resort to getting a loaner pair from a local customer for this particular show. This was due to issues with customs (India) holding up the latest version being shipped to this show. Instead, a customer in the local metro area loaned his pair of these speakers helping to avoid a significant issue for the exhibitor by possibly not having a pair of speakers for this exhibit. According to the designer, this speaker’s new updated version will be the same price as the model used for his exhibit.

Anyway – what I heard was an excellent sound from the Rethm Maarga model ($11,500), including a range of music from rhythmic R&B (i.e., Maxwell) and dynamic jazz (Ahmad Jamal) to hard-kicking heavy metal. These unique speakers have no crossover, are 97dB efficient, and include two isobaric 6×9“ powered bass woofers. The electronics driving these speakers were AMPSANDSOUND, 300B SETs ($18,000) producing 8 watts per channel. The preamp was solid state from the same company ($5,000). Digital processing was handled competently by an Auralic Altair G2.1 streamer/DAC ($6,100).

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AUDIO COMPANY – VON SCHHWEIKERT speakers / small room

A very nice surprise occurred in this exhibit with the World Debut of the newly launched Von Schweikert Endeavor Reference Edition speaker system ($19,999). These nicely finished (wood grain) were coupled with some serious electronics resulting in a sound far exceeding expectations. I also learned that these speakers could be ordered with a custom finish for an upcharge of $6,000. Considering the accessible price point of the speakers, along with their attractive appearance, I was very much encouraged. The general reaction in the room was similar. Paired up with these newly released speakers were VAC tube electronics, including their Master Preamplifier with phono ($44,000) and Signature 450s IQ amplifier ($63,000). Digital processing was via Aurender N10 streamer/renderer ($8,500) and Lampizator Golden Gate DAC ($17,250). Additionally, Masterbuilt cables and Artesania racks were used as well.

In terms of the sound – there was very deep, full high-quality bass and nothing boomy. Vocals were clear, open, and organic and had excellent tonal balance for instruments. This was a relatively small intimate room setting, and this system produced the musical goods. Listening to some favorite Miles Davis (So What), it was an excellent rendition with Coltrane’s sax sweet and authentic. I could have easily stayed in this room for an extended period. Again – very impressive speakers and an excellent exhibit overall.

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AUDIO HUNTERS & VINYL REVIVERS 

This exhibit had some challenges due to shipping issues and the late arrival of system components. 

This exhibit room could have been more comfortable in its overall configuration and dimension. Despite this – the exhibitor managed to pull things together for what I considered an excellent-sounding system. The room was relatively large and with literally no wall treatment. Overall the sound produced was very musical and featured a pair of KEF Blade 2 speakers ($25,000), powered by a Rega Elicit integrated amp, Hegel V10 phonostage ($1,650), Rega Planar 6 turntable with Anaia Pro cartridge ($2,895)for analog playback (vinyl) or Rega Appollo CD player ($1,325). Considering the very reasonable costs of this particular system, including very reasonable pricing levels of the various components, this produced high value in terms of price-to-performance ratio. The KEF speakers had a classic warm, smooth, detailed sound that is fairly recognizable.

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YG ACOUSTICS – GTT AUDIO 

Display of the new and long-awaited Peak series loudspeakers from YG Acoustics in the GTT Audio exhibit room, featuring the new 2-way Tor monitor speaker ($10,500 retail). Speakers have a machined front baffle and plinth with the crossover located in the plinth. Cabinets are constructed of high-density resin. After many emails between me Dick Diamond – YG sales leader, and Gary Mulder, North America Sales Manager for YG, I was most anxious to check out these new speakers. As I entered the room almost immediately, I was greeted by a pristine, clear, and very open sound.

Additionally, I noticed that the system was very quiet between passages, and the sound seemed to emerge from a completely black background. Not a bad start, and there was more to come. In typical fashion, Bill Parrish, GTT Audio President, shifted to music quite familiar to me, including the fabulous male jazz vocalists Kurt Elling and Tony Bennett. Both singers have a warm, fully textured, pure, and expressive tonal character to their voices and are accompanied by a superb piano background and various other acoustic instruments. The sound from the speakers was captivating in the very sense of the word. Also, even though not yet available, the YG Descent active subwoofer ($7,800) currently under development is an ideal mate for these superb speakers and provides an additional foundation to the lower frequencies.

In terms of the associated audio components helping to make these speakers sound so good included the Audionet Watt integrated ($18,800), Nola Nola Tambaqui DAC ($13,500), Aurilic Streamer ($5,700), and Kubala Sosna Elations cables (pricing not available). During my somewhat brief conversation with Mulder – I learned that part of the success of YG is the company’s use of computer modeling for the purpose of sound analysis to address different room acoustics. Bottom line – lots of sound from this newly released speaker, and looking forward to the other models in the Peak series being released over the following months and throughout 2023.

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ALMA MUSIC & AUDIO

Featured in this exhibit were the Qln Signature speakers in a beautiful Piano Burl Walnut finish ($24,000 plus $2,000 stands). Excellent sound, good organic texture/body. Very natural musical sound with excellent tonality. Played Miles Davis (4 X DSD) with Coltrane – absolutely wonderful sonics with superb hall ambiance and got my juices flowing! Associated equipment included the following components:

  • Nagra Classic Amp (Stereo/Mono, $19,500 each);
  • Nagra Classic Preamp (tune, $19,500);
  • Nagra Class power supply ($16,900);
  • Nagra VFS speaker stands ($2,750 each);
  • MSB Premier streaming DAC ($29,500);
  • Innuos Statement Next-Gen music server ($21,700, 1 terra bite)
  • Gigawatt PC-4 power conditioner ($14,500);
  • Kubala Sosna cables (prices vary);
  • Nemesis acoustic panels ($600 ea).

 

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