Publisher Profile

2019 CAS Report by Byron Baba

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Room 5103

Briscasti Design/Tidal/The Voice That Is

Briscasti Design, Ltd. Seems to always have great sound in their rooms and this year was no exception.  Their lineup included the M3 D/A converter ($4,995), M21 D/A Platinum Edition ($19,000), M12 Dual Mono source controller ($16,000), M5 network player, M28 Special Edition mono block amplifiers ($30,000 per pair), M25 dual mono stereo power amplifier ($25,000) and Tidal Audio Contriva speakers ($65,000).  I was unfamiliar with the Tidal Audio speakers until this show.  This was a room I kept returning to listen.


Boardroom 1

Aaudio Imports/Aurender/Ypsilon/Wilson Benesch/Stage III/HRS

Aaudio Imports was another room that had a number of wonderful sounding products.  The speaker system the Wilson Benesch A.C.T. One Evolution ($36,500) with the Wilson Benesch Torus + Amp Infrasonic generator ($12,900) provided the you-are-there experience with maybe the deepest bass at the show.  The source was an  Aurender SN10 Music Server ($8,000) and an Ypsilon DAC 1000 Valve DAC ($24,500). The amplifier was the Ypsilon Phaethon Hybrid Integrated Amp ($25,000).   The Aurender streamers seemed to be the most popular streamers at the show.  There were different models in a number of rooms.


Room 5106

ifi/Unisinger/Cardas/Wyred 4 Sound

This room had the most unusual looking speakers at the show.  It reminded me of the Martians movie.  I do not know how they got such great sound from such an unusual shape.


Room 5222

Salk Sound/McGary Audio/Exogal/Anticables

Salk Sound speakers can be matched with a wide assortment of amplifiers and still sound wonderful.  At this show, they were using the Salk Sound SS9.5 “Satori” speakers combined with the McGary SA1 tube amplifier, Salk Sound Streamerplayer Gen III SE and the Exogal Comet DAC to produce a very pleasant listening experience for not a whole lot of dough.


Room 5105

Wyred 4 Sound

This room was a must-visit for me.  World class sound at real world prices.  When I listened to the Wyred 4 Sound system using the Roon ready MS-13 $2,999 server, HCPS power supply $799, Recovery USB reclocker $299, DAC 2 10th anniversary DAC $4,499, Aura preamplifier $2,999, ST 750LE power amplifier $1,749/AURA 1200 M monoblocks $2,998 per pair and W4S Tempus speakers $5,999, I could not believe how affordable these components were and still sounding so great.  I told the owner E.J. Sarmento I was willing to drive to their factory to pick up one of their products to review.  He said he was willing to ship it to me.  When I picked the best value at the show I had trouble deciding between all of their products.


Boardroom 4

Margules Audio

The Margules Family

Margules Audio has always been one of my favorite rooms and always a contender for the best sound at every show.  This year they not only managed to do it again, they were hosting the Lyn Stanley Sessions. Unfortunately, I tried to get in the rooms for one of the four sessions but it was too crowded and I could not get inside.  I did briefly listen from the outside of the room.  While I was in the room in other times, I did prefer the music played on the Magenta TT-10 turntable ($2,800) combined with the Magenta FZ47db 1.3 phono preamp ($800) than the streaming.  I will admit to a personal bias towards analog records.  The streaming still sounded wonderful, using a Magenta DAC and HD wireless receiver 1.2 ($1,500) and a BTV4 1.2 HD wireless receiver.

This room played a wide variety music which all sounded beautiful through their SF220 Black 1.3 Black class A  tube preamplifier ($4,000) and u280-SC Black 1.4 Black class A tube amplifier ($6,000) driving the Orpheus 1.3 Ceramic Driver Tower Speakers ($19,000 per pair).  Also everything was plugged into their Magenta QR2 power line conditioner ($1,000).   Atlas cables rounded out the system.  They were also displaying their new Magenta Marvox Speakers ($4,000).  This large room was packed during the entire show with standing room only.  After the show had ended the room still had people in the room with more trying to enter.  Obviously I was not the only one to really like this room.  This was another room I returned to several times, however, it was usually filled to capacity so I could not always get inside.

I found it interesting that my two favorite rooms at the show were right next door to each other, Margules and MartinLogan.  I did not hear poor sound coming out of any rooms even though I still had my favorite rooms.  One thing I noticed in just about every room was the absence of the glare that I usually hear at a lot of audio shows.  The hotel rooms are usually blamed.  I cannot exactly put my finger on the reason, but I have a feeling it was because just about every room was treated with the ASC TubeTraps and that may have removed the glare and improved the sound.

When talking to the other audio reviewers, there were no consensus on which rooms gave the best sound.  Everyone had their likes and dislikes so keep that in mind when you read these articles.

Constantine Soo gave a tireless effort resulting in a very successful show.  I watched him work non-stop to make sure both the exhibitors and the attendees were having their needs addressed.  I also watched the exhibitors set up before the show and pack up after the show.  This took hours.  Their hard work and costs paid off.  I plan on attending the CAS 2020 next year.

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