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2018 CAS Report by Marc Silver, Part 3

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Day Two CAS 2018

See Day One, 2018 CAS (CAS8), Pt 1

and Day One, Pt 2


I have to admit, I slept in this morning. Last night I hung out with Peter Soderberg of MartinLogan and a few other exhibitors from the show, talking about vintage audio gear and commiserating on what has happened to the retail market and High-End market in particular.  But today is another group of showrooms ready to be heard.


Tweak Studio

First on the list is Tweak Studio, a high-end dealer established by Arnold Martinez in Chicago back in 2006 and now has offices in Southern Cal. They were showing the T+A Pulsar ST20 Speakers ($4,400/pr). These are small transmission line towers out of Germany and were supported by a REL S+5 Subwoofer ($2,200).  The source was a T+A MP2500R CD Player ($13,000) and power came from a T+A PA2500R HV integrated amp ($12,000). Everything wired with MIT cables. ASC supplied the room with an assortment of TubeTraps as well.

I was able to use my Usher disc to listen to the system. Overall the system had excellent detail and separation. The drummers had excellent attack. The speakers are small towers and reminded me a lot of an Andrew Jones design that he did for Elac. I would say they were very enjoyable to listen to.



I actually stopped into their room early on the first day, but they had shipping problems and only had one speaker on display, so I promised to return on day two.

Muraudio was displaying their rather striking SP-1 hybrid electrostatic loudspeakers utilizing a very unique continuous curve electrostatic technology ($14,700/pr). Power came from a Moon 100w/ch integrated amp ($2,500).  They were using a laptop equipped with J River software, so I had to find something I recognized to listen to.

The SP1 integrates their unusual ESL panel with four six-inch aluminum cone drivers designed to create a very wide sound stage. Also, a rather concise, focused image.

They had Cat Stevens “Long Boats” which I know very well, so I hunkered down to do some serious listening. Voice was what I would expect from an electrostatic speaker, very clean and detailed, but I thought it could use more top-end energy to my taste. Not sure if that was the speaker or the laptop as a source. We switched to Cosby Still and Nash “Judy Blue Eyes” but the slightly dark character remained. Voices were very focused, stable image, with good depth. Finally, I listened to Copland’s “Fanfare for the Common Man” so I could get a sense of how the speakers handled full orchestra. Dynamics were good, bass did fairly well with good attack and acceptable low end extension. I only wish I could have listened under better conditions.


Napa Acoustic

I am always happy to discover really good sounding gear for a very affordable price and Napa Acoustic had the most affordable and simple system set up at the show. The system consisted of their Cask all-in-one integrated hybrid amp ($500). This little amp uses a 12ax7 tube in the pre-amp, with a Class AB or Class D (switchable) primary amplifier, integrated Bluetooth receiver with DAC and a phono preamp as well. A very nice touch is that the Cask is available with various different real wood finishes. They had a base model Rega table set up along with a pair of KEF LS-50 small bookshelf speakers ($1,500/pr). This was a change from last year when they were using a very small pair of their own speakers.

The system was a real eye opener, with performance that was remarkably competitive with other systems at the show and at a fraction of the price. Kudos to them for showing  a system that totals under $2,000 that stood up to some rooms I heard that had more invested in just their wire, and in one case less than just the stand the equipment sat on.

At this point in the show I migrated down stairs to the big rooms. Up until now all the rooms had been a standard hotel room with the bed and night stand removed. The last display rooms were much larger conference rooms. I think the pictures should make that fairly obvious.

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