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CAS

2019 CAS Report by Dave Radlauer

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Zesto Audio, Room 5203.

Zesto Audio shines again in every category.  The sinuous beauty of their industrial design consistently blends yin and yang with dazzling élan. Through Joseph Audio speakers with Tchaikovsky playing from vinyl, Zesto’s glorious electronics display exemplary dynamics.  The overall sound is engaging and enveloping with reliable placement cues and strong ambience retrieval.

 

SoundKaos Vox 3F speakers, Room 5220.

Tiny size doesn’t constrain the unconventional hybrid SoundKaos VOX 3f speaker from Switzerland.  The smallest of their line, the VOX 3 is a welcome surprise in waxed and oiled solid walnut.

The diminutive 3-way, four driver speaker has one front-firing 4” wide-band midrange and two side-firing 5” carbon fiber, ported woofers. Designed to sit low in the room, tilted back slightly on dedicated wooden stands, its top-mounted upward-firing Raal ribbon tweeter (above 7,000 kHz) helps retain air and presence from a wide range of listening positions, reducing high-frequency beaming.

It was coupled with the sweet 100-watt Pure Audio ONE integrated amplifier, strongly biased toward Class A operation, from New Zealand.  VOX 3 projects sunny warmth and tuneful bass for its size, producing the audio illusion of an elegant mid-sized floor-stander.  Kudos to Mystic, CT dealership Old Forge Audio for a pleasant-sounding space without any room treatment whatsoever.

 

Paul Stubblebine of The Tape Project, Boardroom 3. (MartinLogan/Timothy Marutani Consulting/Doshi Audio/The Tape Project)

Wow, great exhibition from MartinLogan this year partnering with The Tape Project.  World-class mastering engineer Paul Stubblebine presented superb 1/2” open-reel tapes on an Ampex ATR-102 with Doshi amplification and external preamplification of the tape signal. MartinLogan CLX ART electrostatic panels and associated large powered sub-woofers generated highly transparent, wide-open reproduction with high fidelity to the pristine analog sources Tape Project brought to the party.

This crew is to be saluted for their dedication to AC line noise control.  Three massive symmetrically balanced AC power conditioners were deployed; one for the source electronics and one for each amp channel.  Seen in the photo above–they are the two lowest black boxes nestled next to the ATR-102.  This made a critical contribution to the most open and natural sound of the show – in my humble opinion.

 

Marchand Electronics/Bernhagen-Porter, Room 5218.

Robustly constructed with layers of dissimilar wood, the Bernhagen Porter Model 10/12 speaker produced palpable sound.  It features a specialized tweeter nestled in a horn-like aperture for broad dispersion and 96 dB efficiency, fortified with an internal 650-watt amplifier for the 12”subwoofer.   The result is muscular dynamics, even driven by a mere 20 watts per channel of single ended (and single tube) Marchand Electric BTA-40 monoblocks.

 

Sound Lab Majestic 645 electrostatic speaker system, Room 5201.

Local installer Ultimate Audio offers a very simple and successful setup for the massive Sound Lab curved electrostatic panels.  They behave quite well in the tiny hotel room, offering good imaging from almost every spot.  Yet these elegant reproducers could easily fill a grand ballroom with full-range sound.  Sound Lab revels in producing the distinctly lifelike presence and rich ambience that is only found in such a masterful, mature execution of panelspeaker technology.

In the minimalist Sound Labs setup, highly transparent Bricasti Design solid-state electronics provided the streaming audio and amplification.  Elegant Bricasti gear was also found in other good-sounding rooms.

Statement products like this justify attending exhibitions, demonstrating what is possible in the audio arts far beyond what will ever be feasible for most of us.  Yet, we can be vicariously thrilled at the level of aspiration and achievement — perhaps even folly –like that which once transported humanity to the Moon.

 

Acapella Audio Arts Campanile 2, Boardroom 5.

Standing nearly eight feet tall and offered in striking color schemes, the Acapella Audio Arts Campanile 2 spherical horn with ion plasma tweeter would dominate any interior space regardless of scale.  Handmade in Germany, 96 dB efficiency, four-way hybrid speaker system tolerates amplification ranging from 15 to 1000 watts.

Given adequate horizontal and vertical clearance, the Campanile 2 will produce lifelike sound in a small ballroom, very large listening room or vast McMansion without the thrust of a Saturn V rocket.  “Fly me to the Moon.”

 

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