Well, the dust has settled and things are getting back to normal at the shop. So I thought I'd re-cap the show from our perspective.
Note on the venue:
This year's event was held at the Renaissance Schaumburg Convention Center Hotel. This is quite a large facility with a hotel and convention center in one location. Free parking was abundant, so that was good. Unfortunately, the rooms themselves were the smallest we had ever worked with and were partially taken up by large credenzas. In addition, they were quite lively. We did the best we could, but larger rooms would have been a lot easier to deal with. That said, we had a great show.
We had speakers in three rooms this year and StreamPlayers in three rooms as well.
On the third floor, we teamed up with Schiit Audio and displayed the Song3-A's. The system consisted of a StreamPlayer as the source, a Gungnir DAC ($849), a Freya preamp ($699), a pair of Vidar amps used as monoblocks ($699 each) and finally a pair of Song3-A speakers.
We received a lot of very positive comments about this room, especially considering the costs involved. Here's a sample...
More Salk – This time it’s the Song3A Speakers which feature RAAL ribbon tweeters, Accuton ceramic midranges, and Satori woofers. These sounded wonderful and did everything well. I know that’s boring, but they’re just really, really, good. Tonal balance, soundstage, bass, imaging, you name it, they got it. I actually may like them more than their pricier brothers upstairs.
“They’re paired up with some nice affordable Schiit gear. This room sounded considerably better than the much more expensive Canton/Esoteric room next door. Just shows $100,000 worth of fancy electronics can’t compensate for bad room acoustics if those electronics don’t include some form of room correction.
This reviewer also listed the Song3-A's among the seven best "attainable" floor-standing speakers in the show.
Another room that impressed was the Schiit/Salk room on the third floor, the setup was comprised of Salk Song 3A floorstanders, Schitt Freya preamp, Schiit Gungnir Multibit DAC, and 2 Schiit Vidar power amps in the mono configuration. The Schiit gear is very modestly priced at about $3500 for the lot, and they really made the beautiful Salk speakers which go for about $3900 sing. It was one of my favorite rooms.
We were in two rooms on the seventh floor. In the first, we were showing with Anticables, Exogal, Wells Audio and Bybee Technologies. Our StreamPlayer fed the Exogal DAC, Jeff Well's new Commander preamp, a Well's Audio Innamorata amp and our new Song3 BeAT design (Be = beryllium tweeter; AT = Audio Technology midrange). All interconnects and speaker cables were provided by Anticables. This room was also the subject of many positive comments.
Bybee, Salk Sound, and Wells Audio was an interesting experience. It was in fact one of the best sounding rooms at the show. I was with a fellow writer, and we spent an extended amount of time in this room enjoying some great music through the Salk Sound Song3 BeATs, Wells Audio Amps, and Bybee purifiers around the room. Our host in the room was a rep from Bybee, and I think he made it his goal to convince me of his product. Apparently I could not hide my true feeling. In his defense, the room sounded superb. I just happen to think Jim Salk's speakers were primarily responsible for that.
Matthew J Poes
When we hear the Salk Song3 floor-standing speakers two years ago at AXPONA, we were mightily impressed by the exquisite sound that could be had for such a reasonable cost. This year Salk has brought an upgraded model featuring beryllium tweeters and an Audio Technology midrange. In our listening demo, we were again impressed by the resolution, detail, and pristine imaging, all of which rivaled far more expensive speakers at the show. As we said in our initial preview of the Song3 speakers, one of the secret ingredients of the low cost is the woofer, a Satori 7.5” driver, which has excellent performance yet does not cost a fortune. Another ingredient, as with the LSA speakers, is that Salk Sound speakers are manufacturer direct, so middlemen costs are eliminated. The new components of the BeAT Song3 are quite expensive and do add considerably to the cost, but those who want to take their sound to the next level are going to have to pay for it. Salk Sound’s designs are reliably good, and the Song3 BeAT are certainly no exception. Audiophiles who do not have unlimited funds can always find a safe bet with the Salk Song3 series.
We also supplied two pairs of Song3 Encore's to Jolida's (Black Ice Audio) room this year. We did not run the room, but still heard some nice comments.
Here is an array of gear from Black Ice Audio. In play was the Black Ice Fusion F 159 Phono preamp ($1,499), Black Ice F 360 Tube preamplifier, Black Ice Fusion F35P 60 wpc power amp ($1,999), Black Ice Fusion DSD DAC with WiFi ($799), four Salk Song3 Encore speakers ($5,895/pr standard finish), and a VPI Scout turntable.
The system included a matrix surround processor with four channels of full range surround similar to the old AudioPulse system from the 70’s and early 80’s.
They were playing the Doobie Brothers which drew me in. They also played a native quadraphonic track. The processing took place in the the analog domain. Compared to matrixing using a typical ssp, I felt the sound was more coherent through the room and far more musical than the norm. It was a quite enjoyable effect.
Secrets of Home Theater and HiFi
Despite room size issues, this was an enjoyable, albeit busy, show for us. As always, it was a great treat meeting old friends and making new ones. Thanks to everyone who stopped by and paid us a visit.