High End 2018g
Jörn Janczak, whom I like to call the Long Man, is the chief designer behind TIDAL loudspeakers and electronics of Cologne, Germany. I met him many years back and am not surprised by the success the company has acheived since it arrived via the virtues of Janczak’s constant quest for sonic excellence. His products are synonymous for their remarkable build quality, implementation of diamond driver technology and just plain sounding like the real thing. Unfortunately, this has always come at price, that is until now.
Sven Boenicke of Boenicke Audio came out and another impressive showing this year. His W13SE loudspeakers have always been a highlight of the show for me, however, this year they provided an even greater disappearing act. Smooth, detailed, remarkably musical and inviting, the W13SE’s were driven by Sven’s own Boenicke Integrated as well (starting at $7,500). Sources were Computer Audio Design of Great Britain, CAD 1543 MKII DAC (£9000 GBP), and CAD Transport/Streamer (£8500 GBP). Our own Greg Voth wrote a sterling review on the company’s uniquely built GC1 Ground Control device (reviewed here ). Also, for the first time at the show was Boenicke’s own speaker cables and interconnects and AC Power Conditioner (prototype, price to be determined), in addition to his matching all-wood isolation racks. Wonder if the aforementioned smoothness and detail is a direct result of Sven’s own cable designs? Lastly, Sven, always a big fan of Jack Bybee and his tweaks (photo right), had a few iQSE’s on the adjoining walls of his room to offset room colorations. Yep, the Bybee iQSE’s are very capable tweaks and it’s gratifying to find an accomplished Swiss manufacturer who believes is these products as much as wel do (read about the iQSE here). Bravo!
One of the outdoor eating and designated smoking areas located inside the MOC.
Bill Leebens, director of PS Audio marketing (left) and Rick Brown, owner of Hifi One audio salon (located in southern CA.)
AVM’s Peder Bäckman was busy discussing the company’s new line of Evolution and Inspiration series turntables with showgoers.
Jeff Rowland and Lucien Pichetter of Rowland Audio Designs.
Holger Stein of Stein Music and Sven Boenicke of Boenicke loudspeakers.
Lansche Audio’s new model 7.1 ($110k) proved to be quite the crowd pleaser. A tall and very well composed 3-way, (89dB) design, the model 7.1 employs a Corona plasma tweeter – quite possibly the best these ears have heard in a high-frequency driver – sandwiched between dual 10″ bass and 6″ midrange drivers. An attractive design even in this black matte finish, I found the sound clean, somewhat light in the bass, but overall non-intrusive and very easy to like when driven with EMM Labs electronics.
Cessaro Horn Acoustics introduced some very interesting products each year and this year’s High End show proved exceptional once again. First of all, I’ve never heard drum licks so dynamically alive as they were coming off this old vinyl record (can’t recall the jazz artist). But all this from Cessaro’s very own 50 watt Air Two monoblocks and preamp (Kondo lookalikes) built behind a minimalist two-gain stage design. This system is usually breathtaking and this year was no exception. Incredible lifelike images popped from a very nicely lit sound-stage. I sensed from the git-go that this dynamic juggernaut (over 105 dB efficient!) is what gave the music its realism. However, it was the eletronics that kept the harmonics and overtones together in a very rare and intoxicating way. Beautiful.
It was nice running into Alex Paychev of APL HiFi showing his new DSD Master Reference DAC alongside Wilson Benesch. Info on the company’s website claim “The DSD MR as a top-line Digital to Analog converter, specifically made for the most enthusiastic audiophiles who prefer true analog sound, comparable to state of the art vinyl. It is an all-hand-made boutique, designed and built with the best possible audio quality in mind, cost-no-object. Inspired by reference vinyl sound quality, the DSD-MR pleases with a very natural sonic character that is truly unique. From the quadruple DSD processing rate, to the differential Class-A tube output stage, the DSD-MR proves technology and refinement of the highest level. The DSD-MR is based on a modular design, allowing a cost-effective future upgradability of any internal stage.” Unfortunately, I didn’t get a chance to listen long enough to form an opinion on the sound. However, I’ve always been a long fan of APL HiFi products and think Paychev’s one heck of a designer especially when it comes to high-rez digital.
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