CAS 2014: Angel City Audio presents Trinity, Melody, Onix, and Skogrand Cables

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Dyn_CAS-logo-2Angel City Audio bent their talents to offering up another super slick and utterly enjoyable room at this year’s CAS. Angel City’s own Trinity LCR speakers ($2,999/pair, $3,499 with stands) took pride of place. These guys are visually rather understated, but pack a really nice punch when paired with Melody Hi-Fi‘s Pure Black 101 preamp ($4,999) and massive MN845 monoblocks ($13,599/pair), which are sort of the opposite of understated.

The Melody stuff’s not blingy, exactly, but it’s got this incredibly slick, almost wet-look black finish that is at least as good-looking as it is ridiculously difficult to photograph. The An Onix 103 Media Player ($13,000) rounded out the black-and-shiny portion of the equipment rack.

Skogrand Cables, which sported distractingly cool artwork on their promotional materials (how neat is that antlered lady artwork?), held everything together as beautifully as one could hope with their Purist Ignis speaker cables ($22,000/two-meter pair), Purist Ignis interconnects ($20,500/pair), and power cables (apparently a bargain at $2,500 each). Continue reading

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CAS 2014: AudioVision SF and Aaudio Imports present BMC

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In the interest of journalistic integrity, I feel I should make something clear: If I walk into a room at a show, nay, if I walk past a room at a show and Tom Waits is on offer, I will sit down and stay. There are very few artists I know as intimately or revisit as often, and I will grab any chance I can for serendipitous Waits-ing. I used to bring more Tom Waits with me to shows, but really if there’s anything better than hearing your favorite artist on a state of the art system, it’s unexpectedly hearing said artist on a state of the art system, and getting to offer fistbumps of brotherhood to a stranger.

Now you know. I hope my friends in the industry will use this information wisely. This is a power to be used for good, not evil. Continue reading

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CAS 2014: Lone Mountain Audio presents ATC Electronics

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Dyn_CAS-logo-2Britsh company ATC Electronics was providing some excellent sound over the weekend in the Lone Mountain Audio room. ATC got its start in studio monitors, providing professional recording gear and PA rigs to the likes of Supertramp and Pink Floyd. They’ve been in the audiophile market for nearly twenty years now, however, and the speakers on offer over the weekend were definitely not studio pulls, although they retained the clarity and detail of an excellent studio monitor. Continue reading

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CAS 2014: VK Music sings a siren’s song

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Dyn_CAS-logo-2Enough of these highfalutin stunt systems. Let’s get honest for a few minutes.

Hi-Fi is more fun after you’ve electrocuted yourself a few times. Hi-Fi is a lot more fun when you’ve left little blood inside your gear. Hi-Fi just sounds better when you’re the proud papa. Frankly, if you’re not hurting yourself, destroying the finish on your kitchen table, and frying something valuable, you’re just missing out on some of the best parts of this hobby.

With that in mind …. Continue reading

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CAS 2014: Pass Labs is looking for a quip that involves a Balrog

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Dyn_CAS-logo-2Reviewers and editors seem to have some sort of horrible disease. We don’t like to talk about it, but you can see its primary symptom manifest whenever someone puts a headline on an article. It’s tragic, it’s painful, and we desperately need your help to find a cure.

You know I’m talking the really bad puns. They’re just so bad. Have you seen these things? I’m sure Nelson Pass has, because Pass Labs has probably had more punster headlines inflicted on it than any other audio company I can name. This is what happens to you when your name is a verb. People just can’t resist the temptation.

I mention this in the sincere hope that my dear editor won’t slap a “None Shall Pass” headline on this, or some “Pass the musical whatsis” gag. At some point in your adult life, you just have to just accept that the joke stopped being funny before you got to it.

Anyway…

[ed. note: killjoy] Continue reading

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CAS 2014: Zu Audio with First Watt, K&K Audio, Rupert Neve and Rega

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Dyn_CAS-logo-2Over the last year, I seem to have become the designated hitter for the Zu Audio room. This is some kind of cruel joke on our readers, because I usually say the same thing. It’s probably going to be some variation on the theme of Zu trading a bunch of sound quality for a bunch of fun. This may be because Sean Casey has omnivorous tastes, serious knowledge, and no use at all for HiFi orthodoxy. In short, I get to cover the weird guys.

Yeah. Please don’t throw me in that briar patch. That would be awful. Just awful. Continue reading

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CAS 2014: Steven Lester Company puts the performance first

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Dyn_CAS-logo-2Why is there a large, blurry picture of Shakira performing in Dubai at the top of this article? Let me explain.

Steven Lester of the eponymous Steven Lester Company was again on hand to… well… Let’s call it “screw with people.” He wasn’t listed in the show program, he didn’t show up on the map, he was stuck in a room at the far, far corner of the almost unpopulated second floor, his gear selection was almost haphazard, his room was pitch dark, and he was using a projector that cost more than my mortgage to play Youtube videos (among other things) on a giant screen. Continue reading

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CAS 2014: Linn Audio standing tall

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Photo credit: Steven Rochlin at Enjoy The Music

Dyn_CAS-logo-2I had just plopped down in a front-row, sweet-spot seat for what was about my 20th room of the day at the California Audio Show.

Drawn in by the sight of two huge speakers, I was squinting at the product signs to figure out just where I was when another attendee barged in.

“Linn – you’re the turntable guys, right?” the man said loudly.

A well-dressed, silver-haired gentleman in the corner seat of the back row rolled his eyes. His associate, who was standing, said in a crisp British accent, “No, we’re Linn Audio Loudspeakers, out of Oakland, California.” Continue reading

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CAS 2014: Teresonic, Lamm, Berkeley and Angry Gods

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Dyn_CAS-logo-2I have a love/hate relationship with Lowthers — which is to say that I’ve heard them more than once. Despite that, I’m usually excited to hear whatever toys Teresonic has brought to a show. You can always count on a Teresonic system to deliver the vocal goods. Continue reading

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CAS 2014: Margules Audio inspires unmanly behavior

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During lunch on Friday, talk with my colleagues turned to the things that keep us coming back to these shows over and over again. “Every time I come to a show,” [PTA contributor and editor of Audio-Head] Brian Hunter said, “I always hope I’m going to hear something that just blows me away.” I do, too; I always hope there’ll be something that rewires me and reminds me why I’m in this hobby to begin with.

Amazingly enough, I still usually find something along those lines, even after all this time. It’s not always something entirely new — every show can’t be a wonderland of new products that revolutionize the way one listens — but I almost always find something that moves me. It doesn’t, however, always arrived from an expected source.

I have really dug Mexico-based Margules Audio‘s offerings since I first heard them a year ago at CAS 2013. The combination of their SF220 preamp ($3,399) and U280-SC amplifier ($4,599) has repeatedly demonstrated itself to be a sweet and delicate pairing. At this show, nearly everything in the system was a Margules product. The speakers were the ceramic-drivered Orpheus ($8,000) with two U280-SCs running as monoblocks, with the aforementioned SF220 as the preamp. The analog chain was also Margules, with their TT-10 turntable ($2,999) and FZ47DB RIAA phono stage ($749). The CD player from Densen Audio Technologies ($2,200) and the cables from Atlas were the only non-Margules items, and even the CD player was running through Margules’ ADE-24.1 Analog/Digital Enhancer ($329). Continue reading

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