The California Audio Show Part 2

Last issue we began our feature on the 7th California Audio Show. Between that article and this one, we’ve shown every room at the show, save one—a local dealer doing home-theater demos at 105 dB with the door open, sharing the wonderfulness of an Adele concert DVD all weekend long. The room was dark as a coal mine at midnight, other than the video screen—and I don’t really want to reward such anti-social behavior, anyway.

Rather than repeat the general stuff about CAS, please refer to that piece linked above. We’ve got a lot of rooms left to look at, so let’s get going!

This was the emptiest I ever saw the Genesis room, and I seized the chance to get a pic. Viva amps and a big VPI Vanquish accompanied; system #2 had Trenner & Friedl and Heed gear.

I wasn’t familiar with the Mexican brand Margules, but I was very impressed by both sound and build. They made everything in the room: speakers, amps, turntable, stands.

Pure Audio Project makes an interesting range of open-baffle speakers. These big boys sounded underpowered by the Whammerdyne 2A3 amp.

Combine big black Sound Lab speakers with a dim room, and you get—a blob. Sorry. Electronics from local company Pass Labs were everywhere at CAS.

Neli Davis of Audio Federation showed the big Acapellas with Audio Note electronics. As you’d expect, sound was lively, lovely, and warm.

Martin-Logan Neoliths were paired with, you guessed it, Pass Labs gear. Big and room-filling, the sound was somehow not my cup of tea.

I didn’t come across Sean Casey’s usual after-hours rave, but the Zu Audio room provided their typical effortless, dynamic sound. Yup: more Pass gear.

Burwell & Sons’ room#2 had speakers w/new Great Plains drivers, simpler cabinets and horns, self-powered by plate amps. With only an Oppo digital player, sound was terrific.

Fresh from Stereophile and TAS covers, Zesto Audio brought a full rack of gear paired with Marten speakers. As usual, sound was smooth, detailed, and dynamic.

The aesthetics of Eficion speakers were iffy to me, but the sound was powerful and smooth, powered by Exemplar and Plinius.

Not surprisingly, peak traffic came on Saturday afternoon.

LX Speaker Factory offers kits of Siegfried Linkwitz’s designs, which have many avid and vocal fans. I may be avid and vocal, but I’m not a fan.

The Volti/Border Patrol pairing is generally a pleasure to listen to, and it was this time as well.

For me, the open-baffle Spatials have always been more interesting in theory, than in practice. Their sound is dynamic, but artificial to my ears.

For many years, Audio Note’s show appearances benefitted from David Cope’s expert set-ups and demos. David no longer does shows for AN. They need him.

Exogal’s room was always full. The simple laptop/PowerDAC system sounded terrific, even with M-Ls I don’t usually like. CEO Jeff Haagenstad patiently answered questions all weekend.

The hyperkinetic Jeremy Kipnis screwed up my shot. Fritz Speakers are small jewels: the wood and worksmanship are lovely, but the drivers look ordinary. The sound is anything but.

Almost every show has at least one “WTF was THAT??” moment for me. At this show, Napa Acoustic provided that moment. Yep, those are speakers.

So how close to the airport was the hotel? This was shot from the end of the 2nd floor’s hallway. Close enough?