LAAS 2017

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Jana Dagdagan  |  Jun 22, 2017  |  16 comments
At the Los Angeles Audio Show, held June 2–4, John Atkinson spoke with Zu Audio's founder, owner, and chief engineer Sean Casey about the Zu Audio Druid (pictured), Sean's background and his "unconventional" approach, and historic speaker designs. And toward the end of the video, Sean Casey turns the tables on JA by interviewing him about the role of the audio reviewer!
Jana Dagdagan  |  Jun 18, 2017  |  8 comments
At the Los Angeles Audio Show, held June 2–4, John Atkinson spoke with Elac's Andrew Jones about speaker design, building affordable loudspeakers, and Elac's Adante AF-61 speaker, which made its debut at the show, driven by Audio Alchemy amplification.
Jason Victor Serinus  |  Jun 11, 2017  |  21 comments
Michael Fremer interviews Acoustic Sounds' Chad Kassem at LAAS. (Photo: John Atkinson)

The first Los Angeles Audio Show, the audio show that may very well supplant the transplanted-to-Anaheim, September-scheduled T.H.E. Show as the Southern California audio show of choice, has just come and gone. Even as exhibitors unpack their wares and begin the multi-month process of assessing the show's impact on sales and brand recognition, some observations on the show's success and otherwise are in order.

John Atkinson  |  Jun 11, 2017  |  1 comments
The first room I went to at the 2017 LAAS was that hosted by LA dealer Optimal Enchantment featuring a system based on Vandersteen's Model Seven Mk.II speakers ($62,000/pair) and M7-HPA amplifiers ($52,000/pair), which I reviewed in May 2016, this time reinforced by a pair of Vandersteen's SUB NINEs operating below 100Hz. It may have been the first room I visited but as good as many other systems sounded, they didn't match what Vandersteen refers as System NINE for its effortless sweep of sound, precise, palpable imaging, and smooth yet detailed high frequencies.
John Atkinson, Jason Victor Serinus  |  Jun 11, 2017  |  28 comments
MQA's Bob Stuart comparing PCM and MQA recordings in the Sunny Components room

Despite there now having been many opportunities for audiophiles to compare MQA-encoded recordings with the PCM originals—as well as comparisons at shows and dealer events, the Norwegian 2L record label has offered downloads of MQA/PCM files for quite a long time—there are still members of the press who insist that no-one, other than some reviewers, has been able to perform such comparisons. At the 2017 LAAS, not only were some exhibitors demonstrating MQA—Aurender, Meridian—Covina, CA retailer Sunny Components devoted the show's Saturday afternoon to specific comparisons hosted by MQA's Bob Stuart and Wilson Audio's Peter McGrath.

Jana Dagdagan  |  Jun 10, 2017  |  3 comments
"Natural" doesn't only describe the finish of Tocaro Model 42 speakers in the Austin Hifi room.
Jason Victor Serinus  |  Jun 10, 2017  |  1 comments
In the first of two floor rooms from Elite Audio Systems of San Francisco, Viola Audio Labs' Paul Jayson partnered with Elite's Michael Woods to pair the Viola Bravo 2 amplifier ($58,000) and Viola Sonata preamplifier ($35,000) with Kharma DB9 loudspeakers ($37,500/pair), Linn Klimax LP12 turntable ($25,000), Viola cabling (produced by ZenSati), and an Isotek Titan power purifier ($4999) with matching power strip ($1500). Paul's choice of the Speaker Corner reissue of Michelangeli's live 1979 performance of Beethoven Piano Concerto 1, with Giulini and the Vienna Symphony, enabled me to hear the system's lovely shine and ability to convey extremely rapid timpani rolls with minimal smudging and utmost credibility.
John Atkinson  |  Jun 10, 2017  |  1 comments
I tend to be skeptical of tweaks. Too often in the past, I have heard an astonishingly audible difference when the whatever is demonstrated by its promoter, only for any difference to stubbornly disappear when I try the same thingamabob in my own system. But listening to the difference when Isotek's Bjorn Hegelsted replaced the cheap power strip and stock AC cords in a MoFi Distribution system using the impressive but affordable Wharfedale Diamond 225 speakers ($449/pair) driven by a Quad Artera Play CD player ($2199) and Artera Stereo amplifier ($2299) with a star-wired, 6-outlet Isotek Polaris conditioner ($495) and Isotek Premier AC cords ($149 each), the improvement in image palpability and dimensionality, the elimination of "shoutiness" on female voice, was extraordinary.
Jana Dagdagan  |  Jun 09, 2017  |  0 comments
"Ampsandsound is a startup with big promise!"—a text message like this from Herb Reichert and I knew what I had to do.
Jason Victor Serinus  |  Jun 09, 2017  |  2 comments
How to conduct a successful MQA demo when the person requesting same already has made up their mind? That question, or some variation thereof, must have run through the mind of Meridian's SW regional sales manager, Courtney Careccia, when the sole attendee (besides me) in her room on a slow Sunday asked for a non-MQA/MQA comparison on her all-Meridian system. After no more than 45 seconds—it could have been less, but certainly not more—the man asked to switch to the MQA version, listened for a much shorter time, stood up, declared the whole thing was a sham, and marched out the door. It was almost as if the comparison had never happened.
John Atkinson  |  Jun 09, 2017  |  4 comments
Following my keynote speech at the ribbon-cutting ceremony Friday morning, my beat at the Los Angeles Audio Show was the Sheraton Gateway's 1st and 5th floors. Even with just the two floors, this was a daunting prospect—considering that this was the show's debut, it had a larger number of exhibitors than any of us had anticipated. So without further ado, here's the first of my three reports.
Jason Victor Serinus  |  Jun 09, 2017  |  7 comments
First stop on the show's final day, a return to the High End Zone/Perfect8 Technologies room on the 2nd floor. I couldn't cover this exhibit on opening day because the visually striking Perfect8 Technologies Point Mk.III loudspeakers ($125,000/pair), a point-source dipole design with Symmetrical Radiation house in propriety "super silent glass," got trashed—badly trashed—in transit, and their replacements did not arrive in time.
Jana Dagdagan  |  Jun 08, 2017  |  8 comments
One of my greatest personal discoveries at the LA Audio Show this past weekend was that I absolutely love Harbeth speakers. I adored every system I heard them in. In the Gene Rubin Audio/Fidelis Distribution room, there was a beautiful pair of Harbeth Monitor 30.1 two-way speakers ($5495/pair), driven by an LFD NCSE Mk.II Plus integrated amplifier ($6795), with the source being an Acoustic Signature Challenger Mk.III turntable ($4995) with an Acoustic Signature TA 2000 9" tonearm ($2395) and a DynaVector 20X2 cartridge ($995), through an LFD LE/SE phonostage ($1790).
Jason Victor Serinus  |  Jun 08, 2017  |  8 comments
Having visited the Aurum Cantus loudspeaker factory in China in 2009, and experienced every stereotype of shoddy Chinese manufacturing practices destroyed by what, to these eyes, were meticulous production practices, keen concerns for worker health and safety, and comprehensive testing, I am always delighted when Roger DuNaier of Audiophile Direct brings Aurum Cantus speakers to shows. Here, the Aurum Cantus V30M 2 stand-mount with aluminum-ribbon tweeter ($2600/pair) joined the Wells Audio Majestic 150Wpc integrated amplifier with phonostage ($14,000), Sound Science Music Vault Diamond music server ($4995), Benchmark DAC2 DX DAC ($1995), and assorted Dana Cable products to produce "the kind of sound that makes you happy."
Jana Dagdagan  |  Jun 07, 2017  |  22 comments
"So how did it sound?" they like to ask as I'm walking out. If I enjoyed the sound, I'll be honest. But what if I didn't?

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