CAS 2013: SimpliFi Audio

CAS4Have some sympathy for SimpliFi‘s unfortunate Tim Ryan. He won the “show conditions” lottery this time out when his truck broke down on the way to the show. How did the room sound? On Friday it sounded like a locked door. The show conditions won by default.

Mr. Ryan didn’t manage to get to the hotel until Friday night, missing the first day entirely. He then got to enjoy an all-nighter setting up for Saturday morning. By the time I saw him on Saturday afternoon, he looked like a man who desperately needed a nap. Of course, Mr. Ryan wasn’t about to let something like show conditions bother him. Three full systems — with multiple speaker options in two of them! — were ready to go by the time we got to his room.

His favored system, featuring Klangwerk Ella active speakers ($7500), was set up on one long wall in front of a wonderfully minimalist entertainment center that hid two subwoofers. On wall speakers from Klangwek festooned the wall behind it. Firing down the room was a Gradient Revolution Active system ($12k). In an alcove on one side was an older Resolution Audio system feeding into either a pair of Gradient 5.0 speakers ($1995) or a pair of PSI A215-M (somewhere around $3000 each, but don’t quote me; they’re conspicuously absent from my notes).

And, of course, every system was fronted by a DSPeaker Anti-Mode ($1200) for DAC and room correction duties. I would be remiss if I failed to mention that bit. It was fairly critical.

Did I mention that the systems were ready to go? So was Mr. Ryan. He dismissed his hard work, and dismissed his many thousands of dollars worth of technology, and he turned the fiery eyes of a zealot on me as he asked if I’d accepted room correction as my personal savior.

We spent the next twenty minutes wandering through the uses Mr. Ryan has found for the DSPeaker products, and getting a quick introduction to REW for my wife. The pitch was impressive. The results were quite a bit more impressive. It was pretty clear that the DSPeaker contribution was just about the only reason that Mr. Ryan had dared to set up so many ambitious systems. Without it, his room would have sounded, at best, meh. With it, we heard strong dynamics, clear bass, and subwoofer integration that was unbelievably transparent.

I promised to come back and listen more, but, by the time I arrived on Sunday, Mr. Ryan appeared to be boxing up large chunks of the room for a customer. His demos were, apparently, effective.


  1. I’d like to see more dealers make a concerted effort to sell off show stock. Perhaps make a tradition of on Sunday afternoon offering deep discounts (if at all feasible) on the demo items. I know some do already but in a very quiet way. If people can come to a show not just to listen but also to buy (knowing they can buy), things might get interesting. It would also solve the conundrum a lot of show attendees face: hey, I like it, but there are no dealers anywhere near me for this particular component. The product is then forgotten. Be nice to go home with something that really impressed.

  2. Tim’s products are superb, as is Tim. The Ella’s are $7500 a piece and worth at least as much…so $15k or the pair. Someone got lucky buying the demos!!!

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