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CAS7 Richard Austen Reports, Part 2

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Tannoy/Steven Lester Co.
In part 2, I will be covering some of the best budget rooms and components. Budget is relative of course, so these are rooms where the loudspeakers were priced at under $10,000. All of these speakers and systems sounded very good and it is sometimes difficult to separate one as being a better value because they may have had an inferior source component to a room with a much better player. Further hampering my overall impression is that some rooms didn’t have a CD player as a source which didn’t allow me to play the same source material from room to room.
Do not rely on the hosts to play the perfect demonstration music. They are often into classical and opera and if you are not, you may favor a room based on music and not sound quality. Indeed, one attendee didn’t like a particular room, but when I played a more invigorating piece their impression of the stereo went from boring to exciting. Thus, the first impression isn’t always the best impression.
I will start with a good example in the Tannoy/Steve Lester Co. “Moving Pictures and Sound” room using the new Tannoy Eaton speakers (under $5,000) and Prima-Luna DiaLogue HP Integrated ($4,300). This room was one of the best budget rooms at the show with the caveat that one really has to make a few leaps of faith as to what it could be if….
The demonstrator (Steve Lester) set this room up with full video screen creating a terrifically engaging presentation even if the screen was set a little too high. Steve was using YouTube videos for the presentation when I was in the room and noted that the subwoofer was fairly entry level. Nevertheless, I liked the sound a lot and kept thinking to myself – what if he had brought a premium CD player or turntable?  I have heard Prima-Luna and Tannoy a fair amount over the years to feel comfortable enough to say that both have room to be even better sounding with a premium source and a premium two-subwoofer set-up.  The Eaton is a 10-inch dual concentric driver and what grabbed me was the vocal dynamic range offered and sense of clarity and space.

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