Publisher Profile

2009 RMAF Coverage 11

Sanders, Technics Reel-To-Reel, Vandersteen/Audio Research, Electrocompaniet, Ypsilon, Best of show

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Sanders

I have always been taken with the Sanders speakers and electronics. This year the system had excellent speed and leading edge definition, and excellent extension at the frequency extremes. Resolution and imaging were also strong points. It could have been a bit warmer through the midrange but overall was one of the better systems at the show. Electronics were provided by Sanders and had no difficulty driving the speakers to high volumes without distortion or break-up.

Technics Reel-to-Reel

I included this not for the sound but to illustrate the continued interest by audiophiles in reel-to-reel tape. This was one of a number of rooms featuring reel-to-reel machines. Many were playing software provided by the Tape Project.

Vandersteen/Audio Research

This was my second opportunity to hear Vandersteen’s latest thinking on speaker design. The system was consisted of the Vandersteen Model 7, Linn Sondek LP12 with the latest DC motor and power supply, Audio Research CD 8 Reference, Reference 5 preamp and amp, Shunyata cables, and a Gran Prix Monaco equipment stand. The sound of the system was quite nice with an extended, airy top-end, good impact and leading edge. Piano and cymbals sounded very natural. Bass fiddle was also very realistic. There was a lack of dimensionality coupled with room related problems below 200 Hz. It also crossed my mind that the speakers never opened up the way they had last year, perhaps due to inadequate power. These strike me as very power hungry speakers.

Electrcompaniet

This was one of the few rooms that used only equipment manufactured by one company (except the equipment rack). Often this can be a recipe for disaster. Expertise in one product area does not guarantee success in an unrelated product area. Fortunately this was not the case with Electrocompaniet. Electronics included EC4.8 High Performance Balanced Preamplifier, AW400 balanced monoblock power amps, EC 1UP 24-bit upsampling reference CD player and Nordic Tone Reference speaker. The speakers are a new product and technologically represent an assault on state-of-the-art. The main structural material for the cabinet is sand cast aluminum, formed in thin curved surfaces that are extremely stiff. Internally the walls are covered with vibration damping layers. The cabinet sections are coupled together with visco-elastic adhesive and then pre-stressed with rods loaded to 2500N. The result is a cabinet that does not color the music. The crossover uses Mundorf silver/gold capacitors. Drivers are by SEAS and Scan Speak. The end result is a system that has inherently low coloration, excellent leading edge and an outstanding level of detail. For my tastes the system was tonally a bit thin but still extremely listenable as there was no hardness or brittleness.

Ypsilon

This was another room sponsored by Aaudio Imports. Equipment consisted of electronics provided by Ypsilon including their state-of-the-art VPS100 Valve Phonostage, PST 100 peamp, CDT 100 Transport and DAC 100, and their latest DHT Monoblock Valve Power Amps connected with Stage III cables and power cords. This show provided the introduction into the US for two product lines: 1) the Tidal speakers (Contriva Diacera SE, $70k, diamond and ceramic drivers in an inert, extremely heavy cabinet), and 2) Bergmann Sindre Turntable/Air Bearing Tonearm. I would very much have liked to hear this system in the much larger Larkspur Suite. The importer had planned to use a smaller pair of Tidal speakers in this room but due to last minute problems with shipment, was forced to use the larger Contriva’s. Like most of the smaller rooms at RMAF, room related anomalies required a great deal of effort to overcome. The good news is that by Sunday, the system was doing some very nice things. The degree of success is perhaps best illustrated by the fact that the importer sold 4 pairs at the show, not an easy thing in this economy. Given that I had heard virtually the same electronics at CES last January, I can say with great certainty that the Ypsilon direct-heated triode monoblocks are something very special, ditto for their phonostage. I was also quite taken with the Bergmann turntable whose design is reminiscent in some ways of the Rockport Capella. Bergmann had mounted a Lyra Titan I which I use at home and the sound was excellent, fast, detailed and dynamic with good tonal balance.

Best at Show

Best in a show context is probably somewhat of a misnomer. If nothing else, it is strongly influenced by the listener’s particular set of biases and the types of music they prefer. With respect to my particular tastes, there were three systems that pushed my particular buttons. Listed in the order of their cost, from least expensive to most expensive, they were: EAR/Martin, Einstein/AcapellaandAudio Note (U.K.).

On a somewhat different note, the equipment which I would most like to hear in my home system was: Bergmann Sindre TT, Audio Note M9 phono preamp and Gakuon amps, EMM Labs XDS1 CD/SACD player,andYpsilon VPS100 Valve Phonostage and DHT Monoblock Valve Power Amps. (Noted. –Ed.)

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