As is the case for my audio trips, I met early Friday morning in Dallas with an audio buddy, this time John Semrad, to eat breakfast. Breakfast at Mama’s Daughter’s is a tour de force of old fashioned Southern style breakfast. Eggs, biscuits, bacon, sausage, ham steak, and even chicken fried steak, are mainstays on the menu and all are great. I can’t remember what I had, except it was fantastic (at 6AM, I have a hard time remembering how I even got there). If you are in the Dallas area, stop by one of the local institutions. If you’ve never had a chicken fried steak, be sure to give it a shot—the national steak of Texas. Great food and great service is guaranteed.
Mama’s Daughters’ Diner
2014 Irving Blvd, Dallas, TX
Tel: (214) 742-8646
I hate traveling, and this was no exception. DFW International Airport is one of the worst in the country, and a polar opposite of the nicely operated Denver International, one of the best I’ve seen. This was my first trip to RMAF, and the first day was spent getting lost on the seemingly omnipresent Denver Tech Center Blvd (it seems to be in ten places at once, like some kind of MC Escher nightmare), dropping off friends who flew in with me, and getting acclimated to the altitude. The air in Texas is thick as the stereotypical London fog; come to think of it, we have fog in the summer, so we might have London beat. Getting used to the thin air took a few hours. I wasn’t winded or tired, but did seem to be “out of sorts
My coverage of this year’s RMAF wouldn’t be as complete as I had wanted. I had other goals: an interview with Haniwa Audio’s president, Dr Tetsuo Kubo; a trip to Aaudio Imports home base (Brian Ackerman’s house); visiting with Koetsu USA’s Hiram Toro; and dropping by to visit Klaus Bunge of Odyssey Audio.
The first rooms I entered were good ones, playing good music, and with good sound. High Water Sound from NYC, in rooms 1116 and 1118, were displaying two new TW Acustic turntables: the entry level Raven .5 and the top-of-the-line TW Acustic Black Knight. The beautiful Tron Telstar 211 reference power amp and Tron’s Discovery SE 300B Reference provided smooth and accurate amplification for the high efficiency speakers on display. The Hørning Eufrodite speaker from Horning Hybrid loudspeakers, were paired with the Telstar 211 Reference, and TW Acustic Black Knight. Thomas Woschnick, the owner and creator of TW Acustic was running the room with the Eufrodite.
(Jeffrey playing DJ)
Raven .5 table with Pole Star tonearm and Dynavector XV1-S
Raven One table with TriPlanar arm and Miyabi Standard
Raven AC table with Graham Phantom II arm with Ortofon A90, and Dynavector 507 MKII arm with Dynavector XV1-S Mono cartridge.
TW-Acustic Phono Stage was used on the Raven One/Miyabi
Tron Seven Reference Line Stage
Tron Seven Reference Stereo Phono Stage
Tron Seven Reference Mono Phono Stage
Tron Discovery SE 300B Reference Amplifier
Horning Hybrid Systems Aristotle Zigma Ultimate
Silent Running Audio Craz Rack and Ohio XL Base/Discovery
WSS Platinum Cables
Eden Sound TerraStone footers and Slabs
(Thomas Woschnick playing DJ)
TW-Acustic Black Knight w. Graham Phantom II / Dynavector XV1-T
Tron Syren Reference Pre/Phono
Tron Telstar 211 SE Reference Amplifier
Horning Hybrid Systems Eufrodite Rev.III
Pure Sound A-8000 CD Player
Silent Running Audio Craz Rack and Ohio XL/Telstar
WSS Platinum Cables
TriPoint Audio Grounding System
The sound in both rooms had warmth, richness and inner beauty. A special nod to Jeffrey Catalano for excellent musical selections. Chet Atkins followed by old school Moog is something you wouldn’t hear in the zombie rooms (the ones that play the same four uninspired female vocalists over, and over, and over….). In my judgment, the big stars were the Tron amps, and the gorgeous looking and sounding Hørning Eufrodite. High Water Sound imports Aspara Acoustics, Hørning Hybrid, Wss Kabel, Odeon, Pure Sound, Thöress Systems, Tron Electric, TW-Acustic and Pole Star.
I jumped a round after that, deciding to go back to the ground floor to look through records and find a couple of friends.
Dave Slagle of Intact Audio, Jeffrey Jackson of Experience Music, Inc, and John Chapman, of Bent Audio, had adjacent tables just outside the music vendors area. Since they had the highest traffic area of RMAF, and were constantly talking to show attendees, it was hard to ask questions. I contacted Dave Slagle and he helped sort things out.
Dave and Jeffrey have launched Emia which is an acronym from: Experience Music Intact Audio. The idea of the project is to offer design/build services instead of finished products. If you like something Dave and Jeffrey have done, but would like it modified for your needs, this is your chance for a bespoke audio experience.
Bent Audio was showing remote controlled volume and source selection, some units being resistive and some using Slagle’s transformer attenuation units. Dave Slagle had just finished a prototype field coil driver based on a Lowther cone (everything else was custom). It was very sexy. He also had step-up transformers and chokes. I picked up some 7.3K chokes for a DIY LCR project. These guys are operating on different wavelengths from the stereotypical audiophile. A little mad scientist. A little “free spirit”. A little Edison and Bell too.
I hope to present a DIY article based around Slagle’s LCR chokes, authored by myself and experienced DIY’ers John Semrad and Ka Yeung. Most, if not all, LCR stages are using low impedance chokes (600 ohms), driven by high transconductance tubes (6dj8, e810f, et cetera). Is this low impedance part of the LCR magic of fewer windings, less wire, less noise from resistance, et cetera? Will the lower distortion of loading these tubes with a more comfortable 7.3K offset the added wire and noise? I hope to find out soon, and will report my findings.
The big vendor room with the vinyl pulls me in like a candle draws a moth. I picked up some new and some used vinyl, including Harmonia Mundi HM10061 John Ogdon and Paavo Berglund, EMI/Melodiya Shostakovitch 8th Moscow Phil under Kiril Kondrashin (underrated conductor in my opinion), Image hifi LP-003 (the test record), Opus 3 (several), a nice color-back Mercury Living Presence SR90263 Fall River Legend/Spirituals (one of best recordings of American music), and a British Columbia pressing of the Poulenc Gloria/Organ Concerto SAX2445. All the prices were competitive and if you spent a lot, you could get a decent discount.
Just down the hall from the Vendor area were some of the big rooms. There is something about the Classic Audio Reproductions room (and John Wolff’s speakers) that satiates a part of my musical appetite that seems left empty by traditional dynamic speakers, panels, and the like. These big horns can do what classic horns do, but without the harshness of classic horns. The room featured Tri Mai’s Tri-Planar tonearms, Ralph Karsten’s Atma-Sphere MP-1 preamp and M-60 mono amps and the turntable was the Kuzma Reference TT with an AirTight PC-1 Supreme mounted on the Tri-Planar.
The speakers were the Classic Audio Reproductions T-1.3 reference all Field-Coil system. This system had good tone, excellent dynamics, good imaging and good extension. The dynamics, both small a large scale, gave music jump and life. Obviously, the wonderful front-end and class-A OTL electronics is an important part of getting a big horn like this to sound so refined.
The Aaudio Imports room had speakers from Acapella, Einstein electronics, and Isoclean power treatments. Overtones were in abundance and the soundstage was large and deep. I’m not a huge fan of plasma tweeters, but this system was doing a good job of using the strengths of the plasma to its advantage. If something upstream of the plasma tweeter (and everything IS upstream) is amiss, it will let you know. In this regard, it would be a great reviewing/setup tool for cartridges, cables, etc.. The ultra high overtones were well integrated with the fundamentals.
Something else about this system was that it was playing a Beethoven Symphony (No. 5? No. 7?) and the flow of the music seemed organic/non-mechanical, much like analog tape. Indeed, I think the Einstein CD player is a strong performer, and was key to this room’s sound.
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