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CAS7 Richard Austen Reports, Part 4

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Another room that I quite enjoyed was Room 5205 using Eficion F250 speakers ($9,950), Plinius SA103 power amps ($10,150), Exemplar Audio eXception SE preamp ($5495), Oppo UPD-205 4k Audiophile disc player ($1,299) and Line Magnetic LM-502CA DAC ($1,800). I happen to own this DAC which sadly will soon be discontinued. This system had a big rich sound with big bass. Occasional bass boom in this room but I always like to remind people that this is the second floor of a hotel.
I spent quite awhile here because I enjoyed several of my chosen tracks. Mids and highs were excellent and the system could play loud, clear, and provided emotion. Eva Cassidy’s vocals were pristine on “Fields of Gold” and the system could generate the smokey lounge vocals of Beth Hart and Joe Bonamassa on “Close to My Fire.” The LM DAC in tube mode has a real advantage to many of the rooms in portraying digital more like vinyl and had more “breath of life” character than some other rooms.
This section of my reports consists of the rooms that I feel offer the best value based around the price of the speakers.
First up was Room 5226 Audio Note UK showing a complete Audio Note system except for reel to reel tape.
AN UK was demonstrating a mid range system for them consisting of the AN E/SPe HE Hemp loudspeakers ($7,471), M6 Phono ($16,536), Conqueror Silver Signature power amp ($7,310), CDT-One/II transport ($3,287), DAC 2.1x Sig DAC ($4,400), TT Two Deluze turntable ($2,831), Arm Three MKII tonearm ($1,628), IQ3 MMCartridge ($824), AN Vx silver interconnect ($1354 per 1 meter), and AN SPe silver speaker cables ($257 per mono meter).
This room I felt initially had some trouble with bass boom which, depending where you sat, altered your perception of how good this room really was. As an Audio Note speaker owner (AN E/Spx Alnico Hemp) I have heard them many times over the years in different settings. Some folks commented to me that this room was one of the best while others felt it was missing some life. The things that AN does exceptionally well is low level sound, resolution and reproducing acoustic instruments.
The problem in my view is that these strengths are not the sorts that typically can be heard through the noise and bustle of an audio show. Audio Note’s owner and CEO Peter Qvortrup seems to understand this, and at audio shows you will see him playing all sorts of hard hitting music from Nightwish to Noisia and other metal and hard hitting trance music.
After finding the best seat here, I played at very high levels Guns and Roses into the high 95dB to 100dB peak range with their modestly powered amplifiers, enjoying the incredible drive and high boogie factor.
The show runners stepped out to save their hearing, but this is what a $7,471 speaker needs to be able to do. It has to rock the house as well as play acoustic classical in sublime fashion. And one thing Audio Note has as an advantage is industry-leading CD (digital) playback, so albums sound closer to analog (vinyl/tape) than every other digital replay I have heard. Big Band was outstanding in this room as well with trumpets in the room and rock steady center image. Fantastic! Once listening over a few tracks from different albums (including pop albums such as Aurora’s “All my Demon’s Greeting Me as Friends”) even a pop recording can sound eminently enjoyable. This was one of the five best sounding rooms at CAS7.

2 Responses to CAS7 Richard Austen Reports, Part 4

  1. Sheldon Hayes says:

    Grreting Richard,
    Really miss your contributions on CAM, hope all is well and great show report!
    Best regards, shel243

    • Richard Austen says:

      Hi Sheldon. Thanks for your kind words. Unfortunately, the moderators at CAM don’t have as thick a skin as I would have hoped for in a country, my country, that invented hockey. I post on much better audio forums: Steve Hoffman’s forum, Hi-Fi Haven (Canada), audioasylum, audiokarma. Hope to see you on one or all of those.


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