New venue, nice, some of the floors the walk way went around in a square, so no back & forth. There were large posters in the main floor to show who was where. Although I wish better posters were outside the doors that listed what gear was playing, I almost missed some things I wanted to here. So much for that, let's get into it.
This was an ear opening year for me, or opinion turnaround. First, I didn't get to all rooms and some I've seem several times in past years I missed, like MBL and Tidal, both I love by the way.
I don't normally pick a "best of" show, I usually can't choose. Some of you may know I'm typically not an ARC or Wilson fan, great respect, just not my thing, however, this year the new Audio Research 160M's driving the Wilson Alexa 2's blew me away. The 160M let me feel the emotion of Dvorak's Dunky Trio while on a later orchestral track with a drum percussion that hit me like a bullet. The transient, control and power of these amps are outstanding, tube amps, yet rival anything, even solid state. I could go on, absolutely impressed. The only $30k set of amps I could honestly say comparatively I wouldn't have been surprised if they costed twice as much or more. I'll be interested to see how ARC fans react.
Next was the AQ speakers driven by KR Audio, Kronzilla, stunningly excellentg sound quality.
Another turn me around, I wondered into Carver's room just to be impressed. They had their tall Line Source speakers being driven by their 350 tube monoblocks. The amps were $9500 a set, tubes were warranty for 4 years and the amps 15. The guy could reach down and grab the tubes with his hands, I need to read up on it, Carver somehow runs the tubes so cool not only could he touch them, they last a very long time, hence the longest tube warranty in the industry to my knowledge. The sound was very good. The Line Source column has a 2700 watt sub, the speaker package could be had for $18.5K.
Schitt had an entire system driving Sauk. Sound was very good. They were using the DAC one step below the Yggy. I really liked what I heard and see why Schiit has such a following and rep.
Wyred4Sound's system sounded good driving a set of Fritz speakers.
Synergistic was doing a demo of their products and used a stellar system of Constellation driving Magico S3's.
I heard Vitus for the first time, very transparent and revealing sound.
Oh, another great room was the Golden Ear Reference along with PrimaLuna. It was a large room, the GE easily produced enough bass, convincing large soundstage, brass had the proper throatiness. Good showing.
Monitor Audio showed their Silver 300 which replaced the RS/RX6. The price is now $2k a pair, I feel sound has improved, the highs no longer reach out and grab your attention, the bass is a solid foundation. Not at the show, worth mentioning though, not long ago I heard a set of Platinum that were stellar, very fast and reproduced brass like not many other speakers I've heard.
A friend wanted to check out Astell & Kern, I thought they were just portable, I found they are a very exciting product that can even be connected to your home system, stream Tidal and even has storage for hundreds of albums.
Gryphon is back in the states and was showing the Diablo with a set of their speakers. Sounded good but I expected more. A couple friends thought it was their best of show though.
Volti Horn speakers where there sounding fabulous as usual. So was Sadurni.
Gobel speakers were impressive sounding but at a price of $140k....... Interesting technology, they have a full range driver down to 160 Hz if memory serves then dynamic drivers takes over, the full range driver is a panel that reminds one of an iPad.
Constellation was in another room with Martin Logan, good sound. From what I heard of Constellation I could live with one of those if I could afford it.
A brand of tube gear, Bandwidth, was showing, built right in Chicago USA. They had a set of low watt SET and low watt push pull, only 12 watts, the latter, 5. Their preamp was $5k, don't remember amp prices. The gear sounds good, I'm not a SET person.
Bryston was showing their new 6 channel amp that can, and was, tri-amping a set of their speakers, as well the entire system was Bryston. Clean and powerful sound.
Thrax was there, this is very good sounding gear. This year whoever was in charge of showing the gear only brought a bunch of not so good Rock recordings. I hope not too much damage was done to the brand.
Krell was there this year. I took a listen, still sounded like the Krell I know. I have read comments and reviews the sound changed some, leaning a bit warmer. I didn't notice it in that demo.
Cambridge Audio was showing their new Edge line, a more upscale line for Cambridge. If they A/B some of the Edge to Azur I may have noticed a difference, who knows, when I walked in and listened it sounded like Cambridge to me. Meaning, it could be better, yet to me, it still had that familiar Cambridge sound.
I think that's about the gist of my highlights, I know I saw more, I'm just going off memory though. Speaking of that, I forgot room 1642, POPfinger. I'm kicking myself as well, I wanted to hear Graham.