THE Show 2019, Part 2

[Part 1 of Jan Montana’s report appeared in Copper #87—Ed.]

I don’t know anything about modern analog equipment, but I’d rather spend money on a TriangleArt turntable than most of the visual art produced these days.

Yes the platter is floating, by magnetomotive force I’m told. Keep your hard drives away.

True Analog had a fine display of drivers using assorted cone materials available only to the OEM crowd (in large quantities, no doubt).

Despite their appearance, these $25K Apollo loudspeakers from Arion Audio are actually dipoles, both the towers and the woofers. The towers are powered by 2A3 Triode Lab amplifiers which belt out 3.5 watts per channel RMS from 20 – 20K at 8 ohms. It was surprising how clean and dynamic this system sounded at loud volumes on digital music. In my opinion, the flat panel woofers didn’t really keep up with the towers despite their 500 watt amps.

My audio sensibilities have kept me from being much of a fan of Wilson speakers despite my respect for the person of Dave Wilson. Alma Audio from San Diego may have changed my mind with this demo featuring Luxman power, an Innuos server, and an MSB DAC. The L-509X amp with a pair of Tune Tot speakers are just under $20K.

Fans of full range dipoles should find these Canadian speakers from VKmusic.ca interesting. There must be many of them because the room was packed and I didn’t get a chance to ask the host about the drivers. They sounded much like the Lowther dipoles I’ve heard at other shows.

These Ekahi speakers ($8900/pr.) from alaiaaudio.com, introduced at this show, featured top-flight Scan Speak drivers and very complicated, but beautiful, cabinets. They sounded very clean, smooth, and non-fatiguing, but might have benefited from a sub driver in the boxy stand.

I’ve liked 3 way ATC speakers with dome mids ever since I first heard them over 30 years ago. They’ve always impressed me with their lifelike presentation. These powered versions are no exception. ($50,000/pr.)

No idea what the protrusions from the front of these drivers are, but they don’t appear in the images on the WaveTouch Audio website. The sound of these $4800/pr. Antero speakers reminded me of the classic BBC LS3A monitors.

Here’s a nice view of the hotel pool from one of the demo rooms. Not sure why I took this photo but I’d enjoy the opportunity to drive the Vette.

At their show demo, CDT Audio from Buelton, CA presented these 2.1″ mid-tweeters as “image enhancers” to one’s existing home audio system. But the hand-outs they gave us referred to them as a “point-source speaker” with the “ability to produce all of the sound output”. I went to their website for clarification, and there they are presented as mid-tweeters for car audio. Sounds like a very versatile speaker.

I always stop in at the Evolution Audio room, as much to say hello to the affable Jonathan Tinn and his engineer Kevin Malmgren, as to hear their excellent speakers. They didn’t disappoint me with this version, which produced bass so serious I looked for a subwoofer. The heroic efforts Kevin employed to engineer the right sound can be seen in the exposed crossover.

The Canadian Muraudio electrostats feature curved panels, which is not unique. What is unique is that the panels are curved in the vertical dimension as well, which makes them more of a point source rather than a line array design. This offers a wider soundstage to accommodate people seated off to the side, standing along the back wall, or passed out on the floor. The broad dispersion doesn’t stop at the 750 Hz. crossover point as the four bass drivers are arrayed to carry on through the midbass and bass frequencies. They integrate better with the panels than most of the other hybrids I’ve heard. Clever design, which solves many problems. Their sound reminded me of the beloved Quad 63s, but with bass and dynamics. ($15,000/pr.)

It’s fun to discover sound playing from one of the demo rooms hours after the show has ended. The room was packed but I got a glimpse at the top of the speakers, and assumed they were large Magicos. But they seemed to have more body and soul, which I attributed to the first generation tapes played by Greg Beron, owner of United Home Audio. Once the room cleared out a little, I could see that these were Audio Solutions speakers. By their sound and appearance, I expected them to cost in the neighborhood of $50,000, but was surprised when the distributor told me they are made in Lithuania and retail for $10K/pr.

My fellow travelers to the THE Show, San Diego Music and Audio Guild members Paul Marble (left) and Joaquin Perez (right), agreed that this event was well worth the investment of time and money. In the center is THE Show’s Operations Manager, Kyle Robertson, who not only did a terrific job of making everything run smoothly, he also went out of his way to make attendees feel welcome and appreciated.