Newport 2014: A Trenner&Friedl double-take, with Syncopation taking Heed


hiresnewportlogoforwebStockton dealer Alan Fong’s Syncopation teamed up with importer Profundo to pull together a fantastic room centered around some exotic and unfamiliar gear. Well, sort of unfamiliar.

The room was centered around electronics from Heed Audio. Heed has been making some very fine-sounding electronics for years now, packaging them in distinct and compact packages and pricing them at prices that actually seem reasonable for what’s they are and do. Show goers have been seeing Heed and Trenner&Friedl at Newport for the last couple of years now, and Part-Time Audiophile was lucky enough to score a review sample from the “Heed network” a little while back.

But this year, Heed launched the new flagship Thesis lineup, the new headliner over the older (and still in production) Obelisk series.

The new line gets upgraded cosmetics and improvements to the topologies and parts-quality. On display were the $4,000 α (Alpha) DAC/line stage, the $2,200 π (Pi) external power supply, the $2,400 φ (Phi) phono preamplifier and a pair of $6,400 ω (Omega) mono blocks. A $1,900 Obelisk Digital Transport was used for all the shiny-discs. 

The Alpha has four digital inputs, including RCA, TOSLINK, BNC and asynchronous USB, as well as two analog inputs, a tape loop and pre-outs. The Pi PSU can support both an Alpha and a Phi at the same time. The Phi supports both MM and MC cartridges, with separate inputs (and circuits) for each. The Omega is a Class D amp, and will put out 160 watts per channel. The amp is said to be stable down to 2Ω.

The speakers in use were the $13,000/pair Trenner&Friedl Pharaoh. No, those aren’t single-driver speakers. There really are two drivers under than single, round and difficult-to-remove grill cover. Porting is straight down, so front-wall placement is less of an issue. The finish is excellent, certainly furniture-grade, and should have no problem with most decor. The Pharaoh are 92dB and an 8Ω load.

The analog section of the display came from Funk Firm, their Vector/FXR turntable and tonearm combo. A Transfiguration Axia phono cartridge rode the grooves.

Also note — all cabling was from Cardas Audio, from the Clear line.

Okay, a few words about the sound. I think the little Heeds had more than enough power and finesse on tap to make those Pharaohs sing. The speaker spacing and orientation/toe in was wide and straight, which gave a precise center-fill image. Bass, tone, detail … check, check, check. Given show conditions, I felt that this was a pretty compelling demo; I was very satisfied with the level of sound quality I was wallowing basking bathing getting.

The fact that I didn’t really know any of the gear didn’t really matter — this was a nice set of components that played well together. It was almost as if they’d been put together on purpose! I’m rolling my eyes more than a bit, but synergy is something that’s really not talked about enough, even though great dealers like Blackbird seem to do it almost as a reflex.

Great room, great sound, great folks. Thanks to Bob Clarke of Profundo and to Alan Fong of Syncopation!

[Note: This is a repost of another, where I screwed up the original by mislabeling that room as belonging to a different Profundo dealer. Unfortunately, I can’t make changes to the URL without breaking all the existing links, so a repost is the only way around that. Apologies for all the confusion!]





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About Scot Hull 1039 Articles
Scot started all this back in 2009. He is currently the Publisher here at PTA, the Publisher at The Occasional Magazine, and the Executive Producer at The Occasional Podcast. There are way too many words about him over on the Contributors page.

1 Comment

  1. Thanks Scot, for the extra effort to let folks know about our dealer Alan Fong of Syncopation in Northern California. To tell you the truth, I can’t imagine how you can cover so many rooms so thoroughly and even know what city you are in by the end, let alone recall details from each room as you do. Just a quick technical note: The Heed Omega monoblocks are not Class D amps, rather, they are non-DC (capacitor) coupled amps that one would define nominally as running in class AB, though, with the different topology (which their designer describes as “like a Williamson EL34 circuit, only using solid-state gain devices”) and capacitor coupling might be a little misleading, based on the sonic expectations that “class AB” conjure up. In practice, the Heed designs tend to sound most like “good” SET gear, which is linear, coherent, dynamic and manages to put the instruments in the room with their natural scale and “roundness” of contour, though without the rounded-off top and bottom frequency response that one might (also mistakenly) ascribe to sonic expectations for SET sound..

    Thanks again for all your hard work…for several years now, watching you haul your gear from one room to the next, day-in and day-out, I smile and say: “there goes the hardest working man in audio reviewing…”

    Bob Clarke

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