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2010 California Audio Show Coverage: Part 2

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Constantine, congratulations you pulled it off; what a great show! I’ll be honest I didn’t think it could be done in such a short amount of time. I also have never attended a show where the vendors seemed quite so pleased. It was great that so many of Dagogo’s writers were there as well. I am sure looking forward to next year.

Dagogo Arrives. Left to right: Jack Roberts, Ray Seda, Constantine Soo, Doug Schroeder, Fred Crowder.

I love to get to audio shows on set up day and check things out and visit with people. What most people do is simply a miracle. Just think about how long it takes us to set up our listening rooms at home, and these people come into a hotel room and try to get it to sound good enough to show off to hundreds of critical audiophiles in less than 24 hours. Anyway, I would like to start my show report with a few pictures of people trying to do this impossible task.


Blue Coast World setting up


Orca Design setting up


Brian Ackerman of Aaudio Imports setting up



This show had some outstanding sounding rooms. There were two very big rooms up on floor 14, the smaller of the two was the exhibit of Bob Kehn of Audio Image Ltd. This was as good as I had heard their floor standing speakers sounded. Kehn was alternating over three days between Magico V-2 and Magico V-3 driven by the Aesthetix amp. He also rotated in King Audio’s “The King” electrostatics with the VAC amp.


The Magico V2s sounded better than I heard them before, but the Kings and VAC must have been a mismatch, because the Kings just didn’t come to life like they did at the Rocky Mountain Audio Fest.

The really big room on the top floor housed Legacy Audio’s really big Whisper speakers driven by the almost as big 100-watt Win Analog SET amps. The source was Linderman’s new CD player. This system really struggled Friday, and even Saturday morning, but by Saturday afternoon they had worked everything out and the system was sounding quite impressive.


Legacy Wisper speakers and Linderman’s new CD player (again, below)



Down on the first floor was the Design Interaction room. They were showing a pair of rarely seen JBL Project Everest loudspeakers. For a source they were using Mark Levinson No.512 SACD player. Amplification was the Mark Levinson No.326 preamp, the Mark Levinson No.433 for the bass drivers, and a Pass Labs XA30.5 30-watt per channel class-A amplifier for the horns. The bi-amplification was done with a Pass Labs XVR01 crossover. This room was really busy, but if you could get a seat in the sweet spot the sound was something to hear. Still, for me it seemed to make most things sound bigger than life.


JBL and Mark Levinson

Another room that everyone wanted to hear was The Lotus Group’s room. They were showing their Granada UB II loudspeaker, the $125,000 a pair version. It comes with an active crossover and the incredibly detailed, lifelike, and expensive Feastrex Type II field-coil driver. Joe Cohen and Steve McCormack were very gracious hosts. The system included two pairs of the new Technical Brain 200-watt monoblocks , the incredible McCormack SMc VRE-1 preamplifier, a dCS Puccini/uClock combo, and the Hanns Acoustics T-30 turntable. Without a doubt this was one of the most popular and one of the best-sounding rooms at the show.


Lotus Group Granada II speakers, Technical Brain amplification

There are three more rooms I want to talk about in part one of my show report. One of them is the Teresonic/Musical Surroundings Room, with Clearaudio, Fosgate, and Wadia equipment. This is a system that I am certainly familiar with. I own and have often said that for any price the Teresonic Ingenium DX 64 Silvers are the second best speakers I have ever heard. I would say that in the hotel room they were getting about 60% of their capability. Even at that the room was alway full and to me was still one of the top five sounding rooms at the show. They also had the little Magus with the new Lowther DX65 driver sitting on the floor next to their much bigger brothers. The little Magus really came to life in this room with this gear. I have just reviewed the Clearaudio Innovation Turntable and Universal Tonearm. There was nothing in the sound of this room that could do anything but make me think even higher of this pair.


Pictures “Clearaudio Innovation ….” and “Teresonic, Clearaudio, Fosgate, and Wadia”

I also want to mention Jonathan Tinn’s Playback Design room. Somehow I didn’t get very good pictures of this room, but man it sounded good. He was showing the Evolution Acoustics speakers driven by the darTZeel CTH-8550 Reference 250-watts-per-channel integrated amplifier. The source was Playback Design’s MPS-5 Reference SACD/CD player with 24/192 input, and his incredible Studer A 180 vintage reel-to-reel.


Evolution Acoustics speakers and Playback Designs MPS-5 Reference SACD/CD player and darTZeel CTH-8550 Reference 2

I’ll close out this part one of the report with the Audio Note UK room. The Audio Note E speakers made my list of the 5 speakers I could live with forever. All this system did was remind me why I felt that way. They were using the E/Lexus Signature speakers with the outboard crossovers, driven by the incredible Jinro 211 SE integrated amplifier or as some call it, the “Baby Ongaku”. The sources were the Audio Note CD 3.1 and 4.1 x CD Players. Friday they were having technical difficulties, but by Saturday this room sounded as good or better maybe than any room at the show.


Audio Note UK E/Lexus Signature speaker, Jinro 211 SE integrated amplifier and CD 3.1 and 4.1 x CD Players


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