Long Island’s Audio Den Opens a New Listening Room

Long Island’s Audio Den Opens a New Listening Room

Written by Frank Doris

The Audio Den has been one of the New York Metro area’s top dealers since 1976. Like so many other retailers, they expanded into home theater and custom installation in order to meet a growing market, and accommodate changing times and economic realities. But their roots are firmly in audio.

In fact, I bought my first good speakers from them when I was in college. If I may digress: they were a pair of EPI M50 small two-way bookshelf speakers. I liked the clarity of the tweeters and the overall tonal balance. I don’t remember what others I listened to but for me the EPI (for Epicure Products, Inc. of Newburyport, Massachusetts) stood out. I asked the salesman to play “International Feel” from Todd Rundgren’s A Wizard, a True Star LP and was sold. At the end of the track, the sales guy asked, “why the heck did you play that as a demo?” The track has an extremely dense, some would say noisy, mix, and I replied, “I wanted to see if the speakers could reveal everything that was going on.”

On November 3, Audio Den hosted an event celebrating their new listening room in Nesconset, New York. The system was based around the Marten Coltrane 3 loudspeakers, a beautifully-finished made in Sweden floorstander with a stunning satin wood front and a curved enclosure made from carbon fiber. The pair on display had an impeccable gloss black finish – it looked flawless. (See the header image at the top of this article.)

The Marten Coltrane 3 is a 3-way bass-reflex design with dual 10-inch aluminum sandwich woofers, a 7-inch ceramic midrange driver, and a 1-inch diamond tweeter. The midrange unit has a “wrinkled” appearance, but this is deliberate, to control dispersion. The carbon fiber-laminate cabinet is 255 mm thick, and the front baffle is 68 mm in thickness. The speaker rests on Marten Isolators, which are impressive in themselves, formidable in size with a mirror-polished finish. The Coltrane 3 is available in a choice of seven wood and painted finishes.



The Marten Coltrane 3 loudspeaker.



Detail shot of the Coltrane 3 midrange unit showing the deliberately-placed "ripples" in the driver. Courtesy of Howard Kneller.


The system also showcased the new NORTH Collection from MOON by Simaudio; the Audio Den rig included the 791 Network Player/Preamplifier and the 761 Power Amplifier. The analog setup consisted of the European Audio Team (EAT) Fortissimo-S turntable (about $10,000), F-NOTE arm (a work of stunning industrial design and execution) and JO N° 8 cartridge, plus an EAT E-GLO vacuum tube phono stage, surely one of the most distinctive of its kind in existence. The system was wired with Sweden’s Jorma Design cables.



The turntable and electronics in the Audio Den main system.



A closer look at the EAT Fortissimo-S turntable, F-NOTE arm and JO N° 8 cartridge. Photo by Howard Kneller.

The MOON 791 Network Player.


Simaudio’s Todd Hurry told me that the NORTH Collection is “the biggest launch in Simaudio’s history.” The products come in three ranges – the 600, 700, and 800 – and incorporate technologies that as he noted simply weren’t available before. He said the company is seeing more and more streamlining in the industry; that is, consumer demand for smaller and more-capable systems, as evidenced by their 791 network player (pricing starts at $16,000), which combines an analog preamplifier, phono stage, DAC, and music streamer. The 761 amplifier (pricing starts at $14,000) delivers 200 watts per channel (into 8 ohms) and features balanced and single-ended inputs.

The Audio Den listening room was amply but not excessively treated with acoustic panels. The rear wall had a large rectangle of Vicoustic Multifuser Wood MkII, resembling a series of wood blocks of different lengths. The side walls featured Vicoustic Cinema VMT, and VicPattern Ultra Wavewood treatments. the front wall had a striking assemblage of white geometric shapes created from Vicoustic Penray tiles that looked like a modern art rendition of an abstract cloud.

The Audio Den listening room used Vicoustic products to treat reverberation time, early reflections, and sound field anomalies like room modes, flutter echo and other considerations. The target was to reduce the RT (reverberation) time between 0.3 to 0.5 seconds between 205 Hz to 4 kHz. Previously, the room's RT ranged from 1.59s at 250 Hz to 2.18 at 4 kHz. With the acoustic treatment, there is an RT of 0.55s at 250 Hz and 0.30s at 4 kHz.

Vicoustic specified a mix of sound-absorbing panels, which control early reflections by taking energy from them, and sound-diffusing panels, which control reflections by spreading the energy evenly across the room, enlarging the effective listening position, and creating a sense of spaciousness.


A Vicoustic Multifuser Wood MkII sound treatment panel.


In small rooms, the prominent anomaly is room modes. Room modes are created in small spaces because of the relationship between low-frequency wavelengths and room dimensions. To control the low end, Cinema Fortissimo VMT absorbers were installed in the corners.

I won’t keep anyone in suspense – the system sounded incredibly dynamic, with a wide, deep soundstage and exceptional clarity. It sounded “big” when the music called for it, and intimate when listening to female vocalists like Melody Gardot, Rumer, or Kandace Springs. I know everyone’s heard Stevie Ray Vaughan’s version of “Little Wing” perhaps way too many times at audio shows (myself included), but on this system I finally “got it,” as every dynamic nuance and subtlety of touch of SRV’s playing just grabbed me.

The system played effortlessly, and let’s just say that there was absolutely no need for a subwoofer. At one point the guys played a track from Victor Wooten’s Live in America album, featuring Miller, Stanley Clarke and Victor Wooten, three of the most virtuosic electric bass players on planet Earth. To say this was a demanding track would be like calling LeBron James a good basketball player. The authority, clarity and low-frequency extension were astounding.

A display of components designed for headphone listening from Ferrum Audio caught my eye. Based out of Poland and headed by former engineers from Mytek Audio, these compact and understatedly attractive products included the WANDLA DAC ($2,795), OOR headphone amp ($1,995), ERCO headphone DAC/amp ($1795), and the innovative HYPSOS power supply ($1,195). The latter is a hybrid DC design said to combine the best features of both linear and switching power supplies, for better dynamic and improved low-level resolution, along with a wider soundstage. I listened through the excellent Austrian Audio Composer headphones ($2,699), which impressed me with their clarity and comfort.



The Ferrum HYPSOS power supply and WANDLA DAC.


While roaming around I couldn’t help but notice what looked like a sort of shelving unit with a number of attractive plants. Audio Den’s Adi Zaltsman told me it was the Audio Garden, a system for growing and nourishing plants. He noted that audio needs to go beyond its traditional role and provide “experiences,” a sentiment I’ve heard expressed in exactly the same way by others in our industry. Considering that Audio Den offers custom installation and systems integration, it wasn’t too far a leap to think they’d be successful at moving into other areas in the home. “You’ll never get this kind of freshness in a store,” Adi noted, and I have to tell you, the edible plants tasted wonderfully good.



"And we've got to get ourselves back to..." the Audio Garden.


Audio Den also offers components from McIntosh, B&W, JBL Synthesis, Dynaudio, Focal, James, Sonos, NAD, Marantz, PrimaLuna, ProJect, and a number of others.


Audio Den
66 Southern Blvd., Suite C
Nesconset, NY 11767


All images courtesy of their respective manufacturers or Frank Doris unless otherwise noted.


Header image: the Audio Den's main listening room.

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