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2011 CAS Coverage, Part VI

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The Loggie Audio room was making some fine sounds with the ever-compelling Acapella High-Violoncello II speakers, fed by Ypsilon hybrid monoblocks, Ypsilon valve preamplifier and phono stage, Bergmann Magne Turntable, Lyra Titan I cartridge, and cabled throughout using the superb Stage III line of cables.

This system was big, bold, dynamic, and engaging as I listened to an old vinyl favorite, Pink Floyd’s “Wish You Were Here”. The $80,000 High Violoncello II continues to affirm my view that is the best implementation of the gas plasma driver I have heard.

In static display were the German-made BMC solid-state electronics, and the tube-based Einstein electronics.

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Hugh Nguyen of Angel City Audio was demonstrating their Trinity Monitor Series speakers. In a room that clearly had acoustical challenges, they were demonstrated along the long wall and yielded almost a nearfield listening position. Despite these challenges, typical of these shows, the system as a whole acquitted itself remarkably well with a warm, inviting sound. Electronics were the Australian-built, Melody Hi Fi M845, 21-watt Class A monoblocks and the gorgeous 1688 Signature Vacuum Tube Preamplifier. The CD player was supplied by Ayon Audio.

On a subsequent visit, the amplifiers were changed out to the 16-watt-per-channel Class A integrated Melody AN 211 amplifier. While not quite as engaging as the previous configuration, this second system still produced a lush, inviting sound.

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On static display in the MIT / MAGICO exhibit were the line of MIT cables, a “naked” aluminum frame structure that is the backbone of how the Magico speakers are constructed, and a perspex-topped Spectral CD player.

In the adjoining room, Magico was debuting their Q1- Mini. These circa $25k speakers lived up to their Magico nameplate and certainly were anything but “Mini” in terms of sound. They threw a mammoth, detailed soundfield and had remarkable bass despite the room acoustic challenges. Amplification and digital front-end were all supplied by Spectral, cabling by MIT as well: Oracle Matrix HD 120 Speaker Interfaces, Oracle MA-X2 Interconnects, Oracle ZIII Power Cords, MIT Z Powerbar Power Conditioner.

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The folks at Sony really know how to put on a show. The SSAR-1 speakers were sounding absolutely exquisite. I’m sure that much of this room’s set-up and final signature are due to the talents of their in-house “Senior Acoustic Evangelist”, Mr. Motoyuki Suguira. The sound can be best described as full-range, effortless, and tonally rich. Supporting the SSAR-1’s were the Pass Labs X600.5 monoblocks, Pass Labs XP20 linestage, (yet another superb sounding room that happened to be equipped with Pass Labs electronics!), EMMlabs CDSA-Se, and cables by Kimber.

This wraps up my show coverage. I must say that this time around to my ears, there was no clear “Best in Show”. Each room had challenges to overcome, but clearly the one system that coped with those challenges the best was the Sony-Pass room.

That said, the two other very noteworthy rooms were the Da Vinci DAC – Pass Labs room (the same system I covered in this year’s AXPONA, and still the best sound I have ever heard from a pair of Wilson speakers!), and the Eficion Room, producing an emotionally compelling sound.

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