I’m still scratching my head a little bit about the system I saw and heard in New Jersey’s Care Audio room at the New York Show. 10 years from now, I might still be there, scratching my head. Yes, I have dandruff, but no — I still can’t quite wrap my head around what I was seeing and hearing here.
Sunil Lekhi of Care Audio had teamed up with the mad scientists of Scaena and created something altogether fascinating — an A/B audio demo that was both obvious and compelling. The demo in question centered on a pair of Baron loudspeakers from MAD ($13k/pair). These speakers, of which I am a fan, are limited. Not in a bad way, by any means, but it’s just a simple matter of physics — the Barons are just not as big as a Focal Grande Utopia EM, and there’s really not a damn thing you can do about that.
Guess what? It turns out that this isn’t quite true.
Now, I’m not saying that the Scaena Maximizer SE ($9k/pair) is going to transform a $13k pair of loudspeakers into a $200k speaker system. No. Not … quite. But there is something about that giant French speaker that is captured quite neatly here for almost 1/10th the price. And it has to do, entirely, with the Scaena system.
As far as I can understand it, the MAD loudspeakers here sat on a pair of stands. Those stands bracketed but were isolated from a pair of mid range drivers. Yes. Yes! Those conga-shaped things in the spidery array are not subs. They’re mids. That’s key. The frequency that gets enhanced here is from 120+ Hz and up, not down. These were cut in and out during the demo and I kid you not, the impact was immediate and obvious. And good. I really liked this “filling out”. Male vocals, especially, gained a super-speaker realism and impact that just isn’t possible with a tiny little box. The crossovers are all maintained through an outboard system, so there’s no issue with bleed or bloat — all that happens is that the mids suddenly gain an incredible muscularity to them. Is it as good as a Focal Grande Utopia? No. But still — holy crow!
The rest of this room had all manner of eye-catching bits, too. There was the giant tubes popping out of the Kronzilla VA 680i ($27,500), looking very much like tusks on a walrus. The Allnic tube gear all standing by and festooned with tube chimneys/dampers — including the A5000 monos ($13,900/pair), the L3000 preamp ($11,900), the T1500 integrated ($6,900) — was not in use on Saturday, but the new 32-bit/384kHz/DSD-capable D5000 Direct-Heated Triode DAC ($11,900), was. It was a lot of black and gold, silver and glass.
I got a partial readout on the K Works Audio Super Station power distribution system ($1,950), and that features “all-silver-plated, cryogenically treated contacts, with individual polypropylene-based capacitor filter networks for every outlet, special low-frequency ferrites, ERS, and star-distributed power for all 3 lines, including ground, and a well-damped solid enclosure.”
Scaena was also debuting their Mainframe Music Server ($4,000), an Intel Xenon-processor based computer that apparently runs on batteries.
All told? Very interesting! The sound here, with everything cut in and running off the big KR integrated, was really fun and definitely worthy of the exploration.