Again, ignore the misleadingly soothing pianist in the lobby. One of the real pleasures at an audio show comes when the big guns bring out all of their dogs and ponies. Some may systems are stunt systems by virtue of their cost, but they’re otherwise modest and unassuming. Other exhibits are just stunts.
The Excessive Excess full-boat Harman system presented in the cavernous Bayshore Ballroom by Sight & Sound Home Theater was the most traditional of stunts. It was only one of four systems present in the room, and it only played twice per day. It featured the JBL Everest ($75,000), a pair of Mark Levinson No.53 monoblocks ($50,000), and Mark Levinson No.52 preamplifier ($30,000). When I snuck in, music was coming from a Hanss T-60 turntable loaded with a SME tonearm and a cartridge that I didn’t identify.
Did I mention that the ballroom was cavernous? Because it seemed far too small once the big system got cranked. You could easily feel like you were too close to the stage from the back of the room. The system was being thrashed like the parking attendants from Ferris Bueller’s Day Off had stolen it for an afternoon. It was awesomely loud. It was also unwholesomely well composed.
The fireplace in the middle was an extra nice touch, too.