Publisher Profile

2010 CES: Coverage 5

MIT/Magico/Technical Brain/The Tape Project, Ayon Audio/Legacy speakers, Balabo/Tidal speakers

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MIT / Magico / Technical Brain / The Tape Project

MIT Cables presented two pairs of its MA-X speaker interface ($34,500/pair) in driving Magico’s new Q5 speakers ($54,000). A rather large venue, such as this one, usually represents a challenging acoustics to work with, especialy when the speakers employed are of non-horn, smaller-diameter drivers configuration. However, there were 3 elements at work in this exhibit that surpassed my expectations. Judging from the very balanced performance of the speakers, I thought the acoustic treatment of this room was handled most amiably. The level of inner details that fostered listener involvement spoke volumes of the prowess of cabling used. And I must say that the exhibitors’ employment of two pairs of Technical Brain TBP-Zero v2 monoblocks ($TBA), one pair driving the tweeter and midrange, while the other pair driving the woofers, must’ve given the Q5 more than the usual juices and emerging potentials that even Magico guru Alon Wolf himself had not thought was possible.

Along with the extraordinary lineup of equipment in this exhibit was an open-reel tape machine as presented by Paul Stubblebine of The Tape Project, who is also the mastering engineer for Winston Ma’s First Impression Music productions.

Ayon Audio / Legacy speakers

The Ayon system consisted of the latest CD-5 ($9,500) and the Triton integrated amplifier ($8,500), driving a pair of the very efficient Legacy Audio Whisper loudspeaker ($21,000/pair). This system can certainly flush out a whole slew of details. Where the same complex recording sounded complicated, this system presentd tremendous details without sounding chaotic. Such is the sound of an 8-way speaker as driven by tube electronics, an 8-way by none other than the Legacy.

The other speaker also being demonstrated, the Lumenwhite Artisan ($35,000/pair), was put into action afterwards. This time, a pair of the 230wpc Ayon Othos monoblocks was driving the 95dB/8Ω speakers, and the sound was powerful, involving and satisfying. The inner detail rendition was a little shy of what the 8-driver Legacy accomplished, but the Lumenwhite had a level of sonic purity hard to match. The Ayon amplification was pure class-A, Russian Genelec KT-88 coupled design, and via the Lumenwhite, I never thought tube amps could sound so powerful and punctual.

I thought the Lumenwhite/Ayon system’s bottom-end, in particular, as punctual and yet musically infusing and sonically penetrating, highlighted the particularity of the male auditory propensity toward the good old deep bass sound.

BAlabo / Tidal speakers

As someone who used to own a pair of the Tannoy 15-inch dual-concentric speaker, I recognized big sound when I hear it. The Tidal Sunray of Germany ($178,600/pair) are large speakers in dimensions, what with four woofers in one speaker, plus two midrange and a tweeter. The sound from these speakers are also big, but not in the same manner as the Tannoys. Even more than other large speakers at the CES, the Tidal Sunray was extraordinarily delicate in tonal recreation. There was very high level of behavorial refinement in its proportioning of dynamic contrasting and dynamic scaling that I seldom hear from other speakers. I reckon a large degree of what I’m hearing was attributable to the two 500wpc BAlabo BP-1 MKII stereo amplifiers ($77,500 each), which had one stereo amp driving the top-end and midrange, with a second stereo amp driving the bass. In addition, considering that it was a Zanden 2000P transport ($30,250) that was held by many in high regard, driving a BAlabo BD-1 DAC ($37,500), via BAlabo’s own BC-1 MKII linestage ($59,500), there was certain assurance in resolution attained.

Very dynamic, powerful and yet refined performance overall.

The rest of the system:

Blue Smoke Entertainment Black Box music server: $6,999
Tidal LPX active line level crossover for bass only: $18,100
Sensory Power active digital cable: $3,999 / 3 feet
Sensory Power power cable: $7,500 each
Echole Obsession XLR interconnect: $4,300/3 feet
Echole Obsession speaker cable: $6,100/6 feet
Grand Prix Audio Monaco stands with F1 shelves (2 each): $10,000 each
Grand Prix Audio custom oversized amp platform: $4,000 each

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