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Newport 2014: Polymer’s exotic materials

N1 hiresnewportlogoforwebThe first I'd heard of Polymer Audio was at AXPONA this year, and I'd actually heard about them at that show long before I actually heard them. "You gotta go check them out," was whispered sotto voce by far too many folks to ignore that first day, so I kinda re-routed just to make sure I wouldn't miss them. Upon meeting the lovely Kendra Khesin, wife and partner of designer Daniel, it dawned on me what at least some of the fuss was about. Pardon me while I shake my head in dismay and mock chagrin for being played. Look, using a lovely lure to bring in the curious and distracted is hardly a new trick, and if they can shock the random audiophile out of that mid-show stuporous malaise, then more power to them. Joining Kendra this time around was Andrea Harrison, an actress turned director turned producer with some acclaimed short-film work to her credit. These two had an easy time diverting the crowds into the spacious display room, outfitted with pretty much exactly the same gear as we heard in Chicago, but this time in a much more capacious venue.

The speakers, which was supposedly the main draw here, were the new MKS-X. These $60k/pair loudspeakers look like precious little else in today’s high-end, and feature some rather interesting drivers. Specifically, there’s that super-expensive 2.1″ diamond midrange driver from Accuton, paired with a matching diamond tweeter, a mid woofer and two bass woofers. Oh, and the whole thing is wrapped up in more armor than a Sherman tank, if just a bit sexier.

The other other draw in this room was the fabulously expensive (and curiously understated) 115 mono blocks from FM Acoustics. At $130k/pair, there’s only so much you can say about them other than “they’re really great” before you start fumbling over ways to explain why they cost more than a supercharged Jaguar. The FM Acoustics 245 preamp, retailing for $25,500, was also in the rack.

David Kleinbeck of EnKlein Cables was showing off his new solid-silver David interconnects ($14k and up) and T-Rex Power cords ($5095 and up) that use a proprietary mil-spec fighter-aircraft wire. Both cables leverage some incredible shielding technologies, collectively called “Dragon Skin”. Individual conductors and the wire bundle are electrically shielded, the wire bundle is also shielded, there’s a passive filter-network and a near-magical “superalloy” shield that’s significantly more effective than mu-metal at magnetic shielding. This is Level 10 Wizardry, as far as I’m concerned, springing from the minds of RF-spectrum engineers with almost a hundred years of space-age technical experience between them.

David is also something of a ham (see below), but between his dance routines, he did manage to point out the Thrax Maximus D/A converter in the Krolo Design rack with the Weiss MAN 301 ($9,505) and Weiss Jason transport ($23,762). “Best digital I’ve ever heard,” said he.

I can’t speak to the relative impact of all the individual elements. I’ve never had the privilege of using any of them in a controlled environment. But I did hear some fantastic textures and a familiar precision and warmth, very reminiscent of my TIDAL loudspeakers, but with more speed, more air and more clarity. That’s pretty awesome.

Rumor has it, however, that this room was something of a hit-or-miss, depending on the timing. Chasing such phantoms is enough to give a person a hairdo that would make Einstein mutter “WTF” under his breath, and apparently such was in play in this hallway at the Hilton. Why this hallway (and only this hallway)? No idea, but if some enterprising soul had chosen to spontaneously rework the electrical grounding scheme in one of the adjacent rooms, and then left that room connected to the rest of the grid … well, unpredictable things might well have happened.

For those that missed the glory, however, more’s the pity. I’m quite curious about this setup. The gear is all Summit-Fi level, and priced accordingly, so there’s really no expectation that any of this will ever hit the average consumer. I took this as more a tour of the state-of-the-art, and it’s one of the reasons why folks like me started going to audio show in the first place. Where else would us unwashed see, much less hear, any of this stuff? No idea. But to catch it twice now has been a treat, and even prompted me to put yet another call into that Lotto Fairy. Sadly, theres’s still nothing on that front. Oh well.

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4 Comments on Newport 2014: Polymer’s exotic materials

  1. I missed the part about the speakers

  2. goldendarko // June 20, 2014 at 3:10 PM //

    Or that last one too 🙂 Yeah ummm…. nice looking…..speakers

  3. goldendarko // June 20, 2014 at 3:10 PM //

    Wow, don’t know if I comprehended anything after that first picture

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