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2008 RMAF Coverage 16

Oracle/Usher/KEF/Musical Fidelity/TAD/bel canto/Scaena/dCS/VTL

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This portion of Dagogo’s 2008 RMAF Coverage by Constantine Soo

Oracle / Usher

▲(outer pair) Usher Audio Dancer Be-719 Reference Monitors

The Oracle/Usher Exhibit featured Oracle’s Delphi MK V Turntable with Turbo Power Supply ($4,750), Oracle SME 345 Tonearm ($2,200), Oracle Thalia cartridge, Oracle PH 1000 Temple phono stage ($7,500), Oracle CD 1500 MKII ($5,800) and Oracle SI 1000 integrated amplifier ($9,250, see Dagogo Review). Cabling was via the JPS Labs Superconductor 3 series of phono cable, interconnects and speaker cables, plus an Aluminata series interconnect and AC cables, a Kaptivator AC cable, Digital AC and AC Plus cables.

Three rows of seats, and no one would get up. It’s ok; I had the privilege of experiencing the SI 1000 in my system weeks before the show. It’s ok, it’s ok.

▼The Oracle Delphi MK V, and an iPod right next to it. The sign of times. Sigh.

KEF / Musical Fidelity

▲KEF Muon ($145,000/pair): 6mm super-formed aluminum body, plus internal bracing, one 6.5-inch Uni-Q driver array incorporating a 1-inch high frequency unit, one 10-inch lower neodymium midrange drive unit with response tailoring and chromed phase plug, four 10-inch neodymium bass units, two 10-inch rear mounted bass units for low frequency directivity control. 90dB/4Ω, 25~60kHz, 23.6″ W x 78.8″ H x 15″ D, 253lb each.

There are loudspeakers, then there is the $145,000/pair KEF Muon. According to KEF representative Jason, the KEF 207/5, the next step-down from the Muon, is derived from the same tweeter/midrange from the Muon; the 207/5 even adopted the same lower driver arrangement.

It was hard to try to close my eyes when listening to the Muon; but the Muon completely disappeared once I did. The behavior of the concentric tweeter/midrange was the most well-engineered I’ve heard at the show. The Muon’s greatest assets, was, of course, the all-aluminum enclosure, developed to make for a box-less sound, and KEF achieved the goal beautifully. The KEF Exhibit with its simple layout was one of the cleanest-looking at the show.

▼Muon speaker terminals
Musical Fidelity A1008 CD, A1008 integrated, 750K Super Charger▼

Doug Schroeder auditioning the speakers▲

TAD / bel canto
Andrew Jones of TAD▼

▼TAD CR-1 Compact Reference monitor

The $30,000 pair of TAD’s latest CR-1 Compact Reference monitors was set at 8 feet apart, in a room approximately 15 feet wide, with the listening position at around 6 to 7 feet away. It produced incredibly well-formed bottom-end amidst complex orchestral arrangement. It was able to extract a considerably discreet portrayal of the bass drum and double bass, in ways more definitive than many, many full-range speakers. It seems more appropriate to integrate the TAD Compact Reference into a medium-size room than a rather compact surrounding.

In the acoustically well-treated TAD Exhibit, the lateral spread of the soundstage was particularly impressive. Even more memorable was the TAD’s handling of individual spectrums in a fully percussive rendition of Pachebel’s Canon in D Major. Explicit details of individual instrument’s tonal characteristics were meticulously differentiated in the most well-balanced manner, casting a stark contrast to the often-erratic behavior of more common designs.

TAD CR-1 features & specifications:

CST Coincident Source Technology MF/HF driver:
165mm Beryllium cone midrange
30mm Beryllium dome/cone high-frequency
HF/MF matching horn
Neodymium magnet
Copper shorting ring
Point source radiator
Tri-laminate Bass Driver:
200mm Woven aramid fiber/foamed acrylic/woven aramid fiber composite cone
Optimized field-geometry magnet structure
Neodymium magnet
High-excursion multi roll surround
Ultra-linear suspension
Copper shorting ring
Structurally Inert Laminated Enclosure:
Laminated panels of 3mm ply MDF extensive plywood cross-bracing
Woofer drivers rigidly mounted via internal clamp rings
ISO-Drive: Isolates the CST driver from the enclosure
Integral port and cross bracing
Translucent high gloss piano finish on Sapele veneer

Frequency Range:
Crossover Frequency:
Amplifier Requirements:
Maximum Output:
Nominal Impedance:
250Hz & 2.2kHz
4Ω (minimum 3.2Ω)
23.2″ H x 12.5″ W x 16.7″ D

▼(left to right, top to bottom) bel canto CD-2, DAC3, Ref 500 monoblocks. Stand: Harmonic Resolution SXR, M3 base.

Argento Serenity series cable system:▲
Interconnect “Special Edition”, 1m pair, RCA $1,850, XLR $1,950, $350 additional 0.5m
Digital SE, 1m, RCA $925, XLR $975, $175 additional 0.5m
Speaker Cable, 1m pair, $2,775, $600 additional 0.5m

Scaena Iso-Linear Array / dCS / VTL

▲Scaena Model 3.2, two towers with quartz base and 4 machined aluminum retractable spiking footers. 12 midrange per channel, plus 9 ribbon tweeters, 2 woofers with 2 aluminum woofer bases. Complete with woofer amplifier and electronic crossover.$54k/pair.

Scaena Iso-Linear Array’s Alan Dishenbaum pointed out the parabolic nature of the room’s concave ceiling. His solution was the installation of an absorptive panel above the listening position.

Despite disadvantages imposed by the room, the Scaena syste displayed impressive resolving power in a showcase of upsampled PCM to DSD of my CD tracks via dCS digital front-end. The Scaena conjured up Pipedreams array-like spatial immensity, and the revolutionary cylindrical, front-firing woofers offered some of the most articulate bottom-end transients I’ve heard. The room was still more or less intrusive after the acoustic treatments, for I thought definition of instrument groups in an orchestra was not as well-delineated as could be, and the sparkle of the ribbon tweeters was occasionally offset during louder passages.

▼VTL S400 amplification

▼dCS Scarlatti Digital System plus Purcell upsampler

Principals of Scaena (left to right), George Bischoff, Alan Dishenbaum▼

This portion of Dagogo’s 2008 RMAF Coverage
by Constantine Soo

Coming soon:
2008 RMAF Coverage XVII

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©Dagogo 2008

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