Admittedly, this show is still very much Stereophile oriented, meaning more two-channel and less TVs and surround sound. So, what does a UAV reporter do? He walks around and listens to stereos like this one, loaded with ultra expensive and strangely pretty MBL gear. And yes, this gear has a sound that's as unique as its looks, with massive scale and dynamic swing.
Outlaw has also jumped into the full-range speaker business with its recently introduced Outlaw Bookshelf Speaker ($1000/pair (in black, $1100/pair in cherry, available now). It employs a 5.25" woofer-midrange and 1" silk-dome tweeter, both of them sourced from an unnamed but well-known Scandinavian driver manufacturer. The Bookshelf is shown here with the new Outlaw LCR Speaker. More on the LCR in the following report.
While the new Outlaw speakers use imported parts, they are assembled and tested in the U.S. (If you're wondering, the model designations are simply the Outlaw Bookshelf Speaker and the Outlaw LCR Speaker. Like all Outlaw products, they are available only on-line.)
Freddie G. beat me to the punch on the new Krell speakers, but they're worth a few extra words. At $35,000/pair the Modulare Duos are hardly cheap, but Krell's charter has always been cutting edge design, not designing to a price point. Based on the sound I heard from their two-channel setup in a relatively large demo room (plenty big enough for a home theater demo—helpful hint for next year!?) they are definitely cutting edge. I'm sure the Krell electronics used to drive them weren't hurting the overall result, either. Their pricey Scandinavian drivers and solid aluminum enclosures might just have been making the best sound I will hear at the show, though it's still too early to go that far. A lot of rooms are yet to be visited.
One well-attended seminar on Friday (presented once only) covered the listening room and its effect on the system. Chaired by Richard Bird of Rives Audio, it offered advice from four experts on room design and acoustic treatment. While much of the information will be old news to long-time audiophiles, the advice presented new listeners with a heads-up on the importance of the room.
No one would ever be willing or able to do this at home, but Rives Audio, XLO, RPG, and VAC put together two identical systems in two identical hotel rooms - but with one important difference. The second room was sonically and electrically treated to clearly demonstrate how important it is to account for the acoustics of the room when it comes to putting together your home theater system. Not only was the equipment/cable setup the same in both rooms, but the demo material was synchronized, as well, so they even took that variable out of the equation. The differences in performance were definitely not subtle.
The distributor for a new (to the USA) Swedish speaker resorted to the dirtiest of tricks to get us into their room – free Swedish food. I didn't know Edamame and asparagus were Swedish, but I guess the meatballs were all gone. I grabbed a few veggies and sat down to listen. The $1,850 GURU QM10 loudspeakers from Sjfn HiFi were pumping out a lot of bass heavy music without the assist of a subwoofer. Unfortunately, the first cut was something that sounded like Yello meets the Greater Wagnerian Society of Skinheads.
Simaudio chose HE2007 to unveil three of its newest components. In this not-so-great photo, the MOON CD-1 CD Player is shown under the new MOON i-1 Integrated Amplifier (50 watts x 2 into 8 ohms or 100 watts x 2 into 4 ohms). Each piece of gear will sell for $1,349 and will be available in the Fall of 2007. Also in the booth was the MOON LP3 Phono Preamplifier, a smaller version of the MOON LP5.3, which sells for $499.
I asked the folks at Usher if their Be-718 monitor, sold for $2500/pair, would be available in odd-numbered surround configurations like five or seven. "What a great idea!" they enthused archly. Much hard work went into tuning the beryllium-oxide tweeter from which the speaker gets its name. It will ship soon with complementary center and sub. And at 87-88dB sensitivity, the system should run well with a good receiver.
Outlaw Audio took the wraps off the company's latest and most powerful amplifier, the 7900, which is rated at 7 x 300 watts continuous into 8 ohms and 7 x 450 watts into 4 ohms. At 125 pounds (56.6990463 kilograms), the amp weighs just a couple of pounds more than former talk-show host Ricki Lake's new bod (US Magazine says she went from size 24 to 4 without surgery). Unlike Ms. Lake, the 7900 eats so much electricity, it uses two separate power cords. Outlaw Audio suggests you plug it in to two different outlets, so make sure you have an extra-long extension cord. In addition to the price of the extension cord, figure on spending $3,500 for the 7900.
Okay, we couldn't hear a real demo because the show sample wasn't treated as kindly as it should have been on the trip to New York, but the ZVOX 425 looked nice, anyway. It's a "single-cabinet home theater system" that's five inches deep, mounts on the wall, has a built-in amplifier, five speakers, two powered subwoofers (yeah, that's right, two powered subwoofers in a five-inch deep cabinet that hangs on the wall), and virtual surround circuitry. The subwoofers are side-firing to help eliminate wall vibrations. The box is filled with five 3.25-inch full-range speakers and two 4-inch subwoofers. There's no digital input - it's designed to accept the stereo audio (or headphone jack) output from a TV and use the source material's encoded Dolby Pro Logic signal. As a result, says ZVOX, it's less expensive and there's no "digital weirdness". ZVOX says the 425 is the perfect ticket for people who are painfully afraid of wires and want a simple system they can hang on the wall under their plasma/LCD panel TV and pretend they have true home theater. The total size is 37" W x 7" H x 5" D. Price is $599.99.