NYAV12: Audio Doctor presents Scaena, conrad-johnson, dCS, Kronos

I have to confess. Okay, I don’t have to, but I’m gonna anyway, so gut it up. Here’s the thing — I’ve never really given Scaena a fair shake. I first heard them at AXPONA in Atlanta last year. I heard them again at AXPONA in Jacksonville this year. And here they were, again, at NYAV.

The Audio Doctor was showing off the $110,000 Scaena Spiritus 3.4 speakers in a pealescent finish. Now, these speakers are actually four-pieces — two towering line arrays and two separate/external subwoofer modules that are the size and general shape of rocket-engines.

So, why the hating from yours truly? Well, that’s strong. Say rather, why the shrugging of shoulders coupled with the Spock eyebrow lift?

Well, it’s a line source thing. I learned at AXPONA this year that one does not enjoy a line source by sitting off to the side while one is attempting to work photographic magic. No, one enjoys a line source just so, from the position also known as “sweet” — and no other. So, here in NY, I endeavored to find out what all the fuss was about — and I did.

I ejected that dude with the ecstatically happy face. Put the hook right into his waistband and tossed him the hell out. Buh-bye. See ya! And sat my tush right down in there for the “full monty”.

Oh. I get it.

Yeah. Line source speakers do weird things acoustically. If you’re sitting far enough back, all those little tiny drivers knit and boost each other. What you end up with is … a magic portal. Like a rift in the time/space continuum. Remember that show, Sliders? Yeah. It’s like that. Sorry — too obscure? Okay, try this: it’s like someone walked between the speakers and tore open the air there, zap down the middle, and channeled in the band from the great beyond. Quoting the great Ben Fong-Torres: “it’s crazy.”

So, long story short? I get it now. Moving on.

Most of this setup appeared to come right out of AXPONA. The $35k/pair conrad-johnson ART Monoblock amplifiers were paired here with the matching $20k GAT preamp.

Lou Johnson told me that the Scaena folks had called to say that they were thrilled with this pairing with their speakers. I’m not surprised — this amp/pre combo is one of my favorites, too, because it’s awesome.

One day they will be mine.

You know what else was in this room? Tons of awesome stuff, that’s what.

Let’s start with the source — at least, the source while I was in the room! That would be this guy, the $28,000 Kronos turntable. TONEAudio’s Jeff Dorgay is a fan of this table. According to The Audio Beat, this is a limited-run offering, so if you’re interested in the SOTA for spinning your discs, you’d better step-to.

I should have taken a video of it, because that’s the only way to really appreciate the counter-rotating bottom platter — it’s distractingly cool. The ‘table was mounted with an SME V-12 tonearm and a $5,500 Dynavector XV1s cartridge. Signals were pulled into a $12,000 AMR PH-77 phonostage.

Sadly, I didn’t get to spend much time in this room. I was pretty certain about which seat I wanted and I wasn’t interested in sharing — or settling. Even so, it occasionally happens that I do feel, well, remorse. Guilt, even. So, after my allotted time, I surrendered the throne. Must be some vestiges from my upbringing or something. Rats. Time for more conditioning.

One of the things I missed? The $80k dCS Scarlatti system. It was in the room, wired up, ready to go … but all I heard were LPs. Missed opportunity? Maybe. Well, probably. The Scarlatti system is awesome.

Ah well. Another time. Though, I have to say that I’d much rather try it out here, at Chez Moi. Attention, Mr. dCS person! Yoohoo! Hey, over here!

Worth a try.

Anyway, this was a great room. Extraordinarily pricey gear, yes, but isn’t that what aspirations are all about? So, let me leave you with your “moment of Zen” and the ART monoblock from conrad-johnson. You know you want a pair.