Publisher Profile

2019 CAS Report by Doug Schroeder

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Systems using small floor standing speakers or bookshelf speakers

As I am more enthusiastic about larger speaker systems in general, and likely will be until I no longer can move them up and down the stairs to my basement listening room, I will comment only on a couple of smaller setups. These were the two rooms I was drawn to either as examples of excellent sound quality with good value.

Ryan R620 speakers, Room 5224.

A petite and streamlined system, this room utilized Roon Rock, (described by Roon Labs as a do-it-yourself build of Roon OS, a custom Linux based operating system for running Roon Server), Exogal Comet DAC, Exogal Ion with HyperDrive, and WyWires serving the Ryan R620 Speakers. The system exuded simplicity and delicacy. As I wound my way through the halls I heard one show attendee say, “Exogal always sounds right to my ears,” and I concur. I heard larger systems at the show, but not more accurate systems. I have enjoyed Ryan speakers at previous shows, and enjoyed them even more with Exogal.


Voxativ Hagen Absolut system, Room 5231.

Holger Adler of Voxativ dared to show one of the most forward thinking, lifestyle oriented, systems at the show. It was also one of the best for value and space considerations. The Voxativ Hagen Absolut at $7,900 is a bargain for audiophiles with no patience for fiddling with many components. While bass performance is shallower with this full range bookshelf speaker, the midrange was heavenly! The system was not even running optimized, as it was using Bluetooth; even with this slight handicap I admired the richness of the result from this one box solution.


Systems using large (full-range) speaker systems

Wilson Benesch A.C.T. One Evolution speaker system, Boardroom 1.


Ypsilon DAC 1000 Valve DAC, Phaethon Integrated Amplifier

Some companies always know how to set up a good demo at shows. One who acquit himself repeatedly is U.S. importer Aaudio Imports. This system in Boardroom 1 was comprised of The Aurender N10 Music Server, Ypsilon DAC 1000 Valve DAC (No separate preamp in this system) and Ypsilon Phaethon Integrated Amplifier, a suite of cable products from Stage III, HB Cable Design Powerslave MkII Power Distributor, and Wilson Benesch A.C.T. One Evolution speakers along with the Torus + Amp Infrasonic Generator.

This system, though using smaller towers, falls into the full range category by the presence of the Torus; the pair also has a price tag befitting a larger full range speaker system ($49,400). I was reminded of the grand time I had with the Wilson Benesch Curve speaker I reviewed from years ago. The Aurender was competent, but I would have liked to hear the SONORE systemOptique that I am reviewing for with these speakers. Ypsilon has never failed to impress holistically with seemingly limitless power causing an expansive sound field.


Aurender system, Boardroom 2.

Perhaps the best example of system synergy I have heard in years was on display in Aurender America’s room. The upper end W20SE Music Server and Streamer was coupled with Berkeley Audio Design’s Reference Series 3 DAC, Constellation Audio’s Taurus Mono Amps, Shunyata Research cables and Aurender’s experimental S88 Loudspeaker System. The speakers should not be “experimental”; they should be a product! This was easily a top 3 at the show, with convincing “live” dynamics and riveting realism. While it may be argued that the mid-size speaker is not “large”, there is no debating the enormity of the presentation. Here was another system playing digital music and skipping a separate preamplifier with quite satisfying results. The bass produced by the S88’s twin convex ceramic woofers was impeccable, one of the very best I have heard from a speaker not employing 12-15” woofers. I am not sure, however, that the degree of forwardness would please me in long term listening.

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