New York Audio Show 2015 Coverage

the Pear Audio Blue turntable from the Wes Bender Studio NYC room

This year's New York Audio Show, held at the Westchester Hilton in Rye Brook NY, was by most measures a small show. Twenty six rooms, reportedly (I didn't count), on two floors made for a fun, relaxing Friday. While I found the architecture and interior design off-putting, kinda like state sanatorium meets modernist lodge with a hint of old time NY, the rooms were nice-sounding with most offering a lovely view of the falling foliage.

Vinnie Rossi had his ultracapacitor-powered LIO (starting at $2,495) and VR120 ($4,995) combo driving a pair of Volti Audio Vittora horn-loaded loudspeakers ($25,000 w/Extended Low Frequency cabinet).

Sources included both analog and digital using the LIO's internal DAC and phono modules, the LIO was configured as tube preamp ($6,775 w/DAC/phono modules), and Vinnie's personal and lovely Palmer turntable. The system created a nice setting for Jean Knight's R&B classic "Mr Big Stuff" on vinyl.

Wes Bender Studio NYC had the good sense and sense of humor to play "Autumn Leaves" from Cannonball Adderley's classic Somethin' Else. The Pear Audio Blue turntable/Cornet 2 tonearm ($4,995) mounted with the Transfiguration Proteus MC cartridge ($6,000) handled the source duties. The rest of the system was all GamuT Audio: Di150 Limited Edition Integrated amp ($11,990), CD3 Compact Disc Player ($7,990), and RS3 loudspeakers ($19,900). Listening to Cannonball, Miles, the two Jones' and Art Blakey twist and turn through "Autumn Leaves" while watching the autumn leaves falling outside was damn near poetic.

I was thrilled to see Brian Charney of Charney Audio. Way back in 2005, I visited Brian at his home to hear his system and this visit became the first of my Road Tour articles for 6moons (see Road Tour 1). At that time, Brian was listening through a pair of Carfrae Little Big Horns, Kondo electronics, fronted by digital gear from 47 Labs. Brian always had a near fanatical attention to detail, re-jigging many parts and connections within his system to match up with his level of workmanship.

Brian has since turned his talents into crafting his own line of gear. We're looking at The Concerto loudspeakers ($22,000), which use the Lower DX4 driver, driven by a pair of his 300B monoblocks ($TBD), while the same 47 Flatfish I heard 10 years ago was still in charge of spinning his discs. I can still recall Brian's old system and the way those Carfrae's projected such a clear cut image of the human voice out into the room and The Concerto's appear to have that same magical quality. Nice.

The Alexus Audio room was filled with gear which apparently didn't leave much room for talking (see Art Dudley's Show Report on Stereophile). While there was a PS Audio DirectStream DAC hiding behind their 833 Single Ended Power Amplifiers ($don't know) driving the Bache Audio speakers ($don't know), vinyl was spinning during the duration of my stay. I didn't complain.

Plinius Tiki DLNA Streamer/DAC ($4775)

The guys from Adirondack Audio & Video were kind enough to indulge a request. While sitting listening through their all-Plinius system (turntable excepted), Tiki DLNA-enabled Streamer/DAC ($6,250), which can handle PCM resolutions up to 24-bit/192kHz, Inspire 980 Integrated Amplifier ($4,450), Kaitaki line preamp ($6,250), and Koru phono preamp ($3,900), driving a pair of Triangle Signature Alpha loudspeakers ($10,000/pair), I noticed them handling Tom Waits' Mule Variations LP.

"Are you going to play that?" I asked. "Yea, do you want to hear something?" was the response. "Filipino Box Spring Hog!" I blurted excitedly then looking around the room at the other attendees who put me in the 'kid-in-the-room' category, I followed on with, "No, I think it's best to wait." which was met with a don't be silly gesture. After the first few stomps, I got the 'turn it up?' sign to which I shook my head in the affirmative too many times.

I hung on to Mary's stump
I danced with a soldier's glee
With a rum-soaked crook and a big fat laugh
I spent my last dollar on thee
I saw Bill Bones, gave him a yell
Kehoe spiked the nog
Is as far we got before clearing the room. I fully enjoyed the rest.

Technics had their R-1 and P-1 systems alternately playing and I got to hear both. I was particularly impressed with the smaller Speaker System SB-C700 ($1,700/pair), which sounded fast, full, fit, and fun. Like music.

Another turntable? What gives? Small show, cover/enjoy everything. Soundsmith was getting lovely sounds through the all Soundsmith system. "Nice 'n lively" is what I wrote.

New Jersey's Care Audio was playing Ella on tape. Not fair. They were also using the Allnic DAC D-5000 DHT ($11,900) served up with bits stored on the very promising Melco N1A ($1,999). That's the KR VA 680i "Kronzilla" ($27,500) sitting up top.

Audio Note UK always makes lovely music and I missed, dammit!, Vincent Bélanger (I did get to hear him at RMAF). Dammit!

Upstate NY's Beauty of Sound was making some open and airy music, albeit of the 'look Ma no digital' variety. That's the Whammerdyne Truth 2a3 Amplifier ($15,000). Whammer indeed.

April Music is another company who always seems to get nice sound at shows. That's their Aura Note v2 ($2,750) which I favorably reviewed back in April (see review). Keys not included.

I'm a big fan of Rogue Audio. Great products for a fair price, built right here in the US of A. Paired with those big-ass Martin Logan Neolith speakers ($79,995), the Martin Logan rep wanted to make sure you knew this combo could rock the house (down). Color me convinced. D to A duties were handled by the ever-allusive Berkeley Audio Alpha DAC/USB combo.

iFi Audio had a host of new goodies on display including their prototype Pro iCAN headphone amp ($1,699) from the upcoming Pro line, the upgraded micro iUSB3.0 audio and power regenerator ($399), the iPurifier2 ($129), and the DC iPurifier ($119 pictured) which claims to "drastically reduce Power Supply noise". Anything that does anything drastic for $119 gets my attention.

photo credit: Ken Micallef

For all of the pre-show hemming and hawing, Westchester may as well be on Mars according to some, I thought the New York Audio Show 2015 was perfectly lovely, if small. While there wasn't a ton of digital, I'm OK with that. Music sounds lovely either way. My apologies to those rooms I missed, yea I missed some in a tiny show, as I was only able to attend on Friday (Westchester may as well be on Mars in terms of weekend traffic from this western NJ boy's perspective).

Make sure you read Art Dudely's show report to get the bigger picture.

slingshot's picture

I attended this last Friday afternoon. It was not very crowded. I thought Vinnie's electronics and the Vittora loudspeakers and the new Martin Logan speakers were the best sounds of the show. Unfortunately you would need a very large room for the Martin Logans in addition to $80,000 so its out of the question for most people.

I also enjoyed the Stax-09 headphones with the Blue Hawaii headphone amp and separate power supply playing Joan Baez' Diamonds and Rust. Worth the $11,500 in my opinion.