High-end audio kicks it up a notch at this New York show

Turntables spinning vinyl, amplifiers with glowing tubes and a dazzling array of speakers woo audiophiles at the New York Audio Show.

Steve Guttenberg
Ex-movie theater projectionist Steve Guttenberg has also worked as a high-end audio salesman, and as a record producer. Steve currently reviews audio products for CNET and works as a freelance writer for Stereophile.
Steve Guttenberg
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A feast for your eyes and ears

New York may be the biggest high-end market in the US, but strangely enough it has the smallest audio show. Still, energy levels were exuberant at the New York Audio Show held last weekend at the Park Lane Hotel. Sound quality was mostly excellent, as were the views of Central Park from many sound rooms.

Sadly, there wasn't much in the way of affordable gear, but attendees didn't seem to mind. They were there to take in the uber sounds, and commiserate with each other like a meeting of the audiophile tribe. Also noteworthy, I saw more young people and women taking in the sounds and music at the show.

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Big sounds from the Dragon Horn speaker system

ESD Acoustics is based in Hangzhou, China and their awe inspiring Dragon Five Way Horn speaker system was the talk of the show! It could play crazy loud, and yes, it sounded live, but the tonal balance was too bright for my taste. Bass was huge, but not terribly well defined. System price, including amplifiers is $500,000.

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Glass speakers

The Perfect 8 Technologies Cube speakers' sharp good looks stopped me in my tracks. Thanks to the speakers wide dispersion, the Cubes' disappear as sources of sound.

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Robyatt Audio’s sound gobsmacks seasoned audiophiles

In the Robyatt Audio suite I expected the Electrostatic Solutions Quad 57's uber transparency, and got it, but the bass from these Quad speakers (on the right side of the picture) truly surprised me, it was deep and tuneful.

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Wall of Sound

The PureAudioProject Quintet10 is a modular, three or five panel speaker system. The rear of each thin panel reveals an exposed driver, the Quintet10 is no ordinary box speaker. The sound is open and spacious in ways that conventional box designs can never fully match.

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Pretty in blue

AVM's Rotation R 5.3 belt-drive turntable is the classic audiophile tradition, but the blue illuminated platter lends a modern look to the turntable. 

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Vinnie’s room

Vinnie Rossi is one of the few that always gets great sound at shows, and this time he has raised the bar. His new L2 Signature tube preamp (center) and L2 Signature power amps could do no wrong.

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Big and beautiful box speakers

Vinnie Rossi had his electronics hooked up to these large Harbeth Monitor 40.2 monitor speakers. They have an old school, big and boxy look, but the sound makes you really sit up and take notice. I came back more than a few times to hear the 40.2 and L2 Signature electronics.

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All the pretty horn speakers in a row

Orinda Acoustics was showing their complete line of horn loudspeakers. Later in the show I heard some of these beauties, and the sound was completely alive and visceral. 

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High power tubes

Convergent Audio Technology's The Statement tube power amp looks powerful and it is! The company is so rooted in analog audio it doesn't have a website.

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Floor to ceiling speakers

Ruel Audio's R+ modular full-range stackable speaker is designed to produce "line source" sound from the floor to the ceiling. Each speaker produces 180 degree horizontal dispersion and it's powered by a 1,000 watt amplifier.

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Spin doctor

The new VPI 40th Anniversary Direct Drive turntable was turning heads at the show. It is like other VPI 'tables made in New Jersey.

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Return of a legend

A new Audible Illusions Modulus tube preamp is a cause for celebration for audiophiles of a certain age. I'm really looking forward to reviewing this one. 

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Splendid sound

The Sound by Singer suite was hosting the Spendor D9 tower speakers. The sound was at once highly transparent and musical. I've always admired Spendors, and will be reviewing their new A7 towers in the near future. 

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The sound you want to know better

Also in the Sound by Singer suite, the magnificent leather clad Absolare Integrated Amplifier. It's a hybrid tube-solid state design. 

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Curved sounds

The Distinctive Stereo suite was playing speakers I never heard before, but I instantly fell in love with the Muraudio SP1 curved electrostatics. Not that I haven't seen curved electrostatic panel speakers before, but the SP1s are curved horizontally and vertically for improved dispersion. The speakers were paired with Merrill Audio Christine line stage and Element 116 monoblock amplifiers. The sound was breathtakingly realistic. 

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Close to the Edge

Cambridge Audio was showing their new high-end Edge NQ preamp/network player (bottom), and W 100 watt per channel power amp (top). I want to spend more time with this combo.

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Vinyl rules

LP popularity shows absolutely no sign of waning, so we're seeing more and more high-end turntables like this stunning Palmer 2.5. Listening to the newly remixed Beatles White Album, the sound was deliciously palpable.

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Instrument speaker sculptures

That's Tal Levy from Vitalis Audio, he transforms old instruments into speakers! From stand up basses to fiddle to bass drums, Levy works his magic on them. Sound quality isn't the point, it's more about the art of design. 

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More instrument sculptures

A couple of fiddle speakers from Vitalis Audio.

Thanks for ogling this sampler collection from the New York Audio Show. Want more? Scoot over to my gallery from this year's Rocky Mountain Audio Fest

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