These were the rooms I thought offered the most in cost-no-object, value, or small size/lifestyle categories:Verity Audio
High Fidelity Services showing Verity Audio Lohengrin IIS speakers, Verity electronics, TW Acustic tt/arm/phono pre, Ortonfon cart.
I honestly didn't expect much walking in. Angular cabs with a typical driver compliment, they look nice but unassuming, elegant and understated. But the performance was excellent! The ribbon tweeter is among the best I've heard, the mids were smooth and resolving, bass had impact and finesse, all at a very high level. The speaker also had a cohesiveness rarely achieved by this type of speaker. Later, after looking at their website I learn all the drivers are made in-house, this is a very serious audio company! This also goes a long way towards explaining the remarkable performance and cohesiveness, the drivers are obviously intended to be used together. This was my favorite cost-no-object room at the show. AudioKenisis
The last room I made it to was Audiokenisis, Duke and James were showing their new Azel speakers. There is getting to be more competition in the $5-10k range and lots of great choices from Odyssey, Salk, Pranafidelity, ELAC, and tons more but I'd choose the Azels. The new cab looks great and most importantly the compression driver is sporting a beryllium diaphragm that has much better clarity, resolution and high frequency extension. I noticed it immediately and it elevates this speaker to a whole 'nother league. I was very impressed!
For $6500 I thought the Azel represented the best value at the show. The Be diaphragms are at least $500 each, not including the drivers, it uses woofers with massive 4" voice coils, the cabinet is simple but finished nicely, and it has rear-firing drivers so you can adjust the amount of "juciness" in the room reflections. This speaker is a quantum leap over previous AK speakers imo and it has leaped over every other value oriented offering I can think of or have heard. Congrats to Duke and James, you guys deserve to sell a lot of these!Vinnie Rossi and Harbeth
Vinnie Rossi showing off his Lio and Harbeth speakers. I liked the sound a lot, it was much more like the system he showed in 2015 with the 40.2s... I did not like the Harbeths shown last year, too dark for me, but I can see the appeal. So these are 30.2s, the same as the 40.2s just without the 12" woofers. The performance from these small 2-way monitors is extraordinary, I don't know how they can do it... it does a great job of imaging, they portray clearly and separately every instrument or voice in the soundstage in a way very few speakers can regardless of price, and they can do this with recordings most systems make into a muddy mess. I've heard TAD pull of something similar in a $300k system... this is <$20k for the Lio and 30.2s. If I was looking for a monitor type speaker this would be at the top of my list and a complete integrated like the Lio is perfect for a speaker system like this too. It's like a "lifestyle" system that's far better than any other I've heard including Diavalet Phantom and Kii 3s that cost a lot more.
For those looking for a smaller system... you can even call it a lifestyle system with the Lio doing just about everything... this blows away the Diavalet Phantom, Kii 3, and pretty much every other system of the type I've heard. It does some things as well as cost-no-object systems. Seriously impressive. I remember Vinnie getting a lot of accolades and awards for RMAF 2015 with the Harbeth 40.2s, this is basically the same without the 12" woofers and it probably works even better for show conditions vs the 40.2s. MSB DAC
MSB Reference DAC being shown off with YG speakers. This was an excellent room if you weren't in the front row, which had some really odd soundstaging effects from being too close, but the middle and back were fine and really showed off the DAC. I have a very modest digital source and am rarely envious of higher end digital, but this has changed my mind. There IS something significantly better and I want it. Now if only I can convince MSB they should give me 90% off we're all set.
I heard tracks that were better than all but the best of the best analog, and even then the differences were not major. I'd take this DAC over the same $ invested in analog anyday.
This is cost-no-object gear and overall I liked the Verity system better... it's much larger, shown in a much more ideal room. But some of the recordings I heard in the MSB room, both from the MSB guys as well as a potential customer who brought in some excellent DSD tracks, were amazing. This is digital on another level and they deserve to be mentioned for it.