The New York Audio & AV Show 2012
NYC has not had a major audio show in approximately five years. As such, this year’s show, organized by The Chester Group International and TH.E. Show USA and held at the Waldorf Astoria Friday through Sunday, April 13-15, 2012, was met with a mixture of excitement and cautious optimism. I am pleased to report that it was, at least in my opinion, a success.
First a word on the venue itself. The Waldorf Astoria is one of NYC’s few remaining grand hotels from the “golden age.” Located in midtown on Park Avenue, the Art Deco building dates back to 1931, and has an incredibly rich history. In addition to its physical grandeur, it has hosted an incredible number of celebrities and dignitaries, as evidenced by the photographs displayed throughout the building.
The show took place on the 15th and 18th floors, though neither floor in its entirety. There were a considerable number of exhibitors, approximately 70, I am told, and a good though not great attendance, with opening day seeming to be the most crowded. I rarely encountered an empty room and, on the flip side, even the most popular rooms required no more than a few minutes wait to enter and find a seat. The halls were easy to navigate, yet there was enough traffic to make it feel active and alive. There were a variety of different size-and shape rooms. As is typical for shows, room acoustics were far from perfect, though some presenters faired better than others. I visited nearly if not all the rooms, many of them multiple times. What follows is a brief description of most of the exhibits, with apologies for any rooms I inadvertently omit, in no particular order.
GTT Audio brought the YG Acoustics Anat 3 Signature speakers. This large speaker comprises an M-T-M module on top of powered woofer cabinet below, with yet another powered woofer cabinet below that. The cabinets and drivers are each made from aluminum. Amplification was from Soulution (model 501 amplifiers, $55,000; phonostage, $25,000; linestage, $45,000, and CD player, $32,500). Analogue was via two Brinkman turntables, the more expensive Balanced ($37,000 with arm), and the smaller Bardo ($13,500 with arm). Cartridges were the Airtight PC1 Supreme ($9,000), and the Shelter Harmony, respectively. Cabling was entirely from Kubala Sosna. To my ears, this system represents the state of the art in stereo reproduction. It has vanishingly low distortion, incredible balance from the highest to the lowest octaves, incredible detail yet (unlike earlier YG models using different drivers) without sounding harsh or analytical. The soundstage was beautifully layered, and the speakers disappeared remarkably well given their considerable size and mass.
(Left to right: Cyrill Hammer of Soulution, Bill of GTT, Yoav Geva of YG Acoustics)
A few years ago, at Rocky Mountain Audio Fest, I first heard the very impressive Kaiser Kawero speaker. At this year’s show, the Kawero’s smaller sibling, the Kaiser Akustik Vivace ($49,500) was partnered with electronics from Lessloss. The Vivaces are in a Panzerholz cabinet, and comprise a Mundorf AMT tweeter, and ScanSpeak paper/carbon sandwich mid/woofer. The system seemed to have considerable potential, but I didn’t spend as much time listening as I should have.
In conjunction with NYC dealer Innovative Audio, Luke Manley and Peter McGrath showed a pairing of VTL paired the 450 monoblocks, preamp and phonostage with the Wilson Sasha speakers, and a Spiral Groove turntable. Set up on the long wall of a smallish room, the system had incredibly tight bass, excellent dynamics and very good tonal balance. Kudos to the participants for such an excellent showing under less than ideal conditions.
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