The first thing to hit me as I walked in was power — the monster XL10 from Neat Acoustics was hitting the room strong. This tower has two top-firing super-tweeters in addition to the complex of bass and mid-range drivers. They’re also 65kg each, and about 5′ tall. Did I mention they’re big? Yeah.
Doing the driving here, I found an equally-impressive stereo amplifier from Audia Flight, the Strumento No. 4 ($27,500). This amp delivers 200 watts into 8Ω, doubling into 4Ω and doubling again into 2Ω. Scary. A matching Strumento No.1 ($17,500) preamp sat underneath one of the new VPI Avenger turntables ($9k — more here). This new turntable, here shown with an Audia Flight FL Phono ($9,995), carried a Lyra Kleos ($2,995). A Clearaudio turntable sat opposite. Below the Clearaudio, I saw a Berkeley Audio Designs Reference DAC ($16k) with the requisite BAD Alpha USB converter ($1,895) paired with it. An Aurender N10 Music Server ($8k) pulled tunes from a custom Command Performance audio-only PC. I noted Stillpoints footers and panels scattered throughout. Wireworld Platinum (the level, not the metal) Eclipse signal cables were paired with Silver Electra power cords — the big wall display had me thinking about the Cable Polygraph. Racks were sourced from Custom Design and the amp stand came from Hi-Fi Racks.
Sorting out what was doing what in this room was a fool’s errand — I just let it hit me. Me likey!
In a larger room, I think the Neat loudspeakers would have been completely at home — here, in this not-small room, I had the feeling that they were pushing boundaries and begging to be let free. On occasion, throughout the weekend, I was lucky enough to chance upon them when they were let free — and a quick poke of my head in the room usually caught some lucky someone in the grip of a hurricane. That was funny. So were the grins from the proprietors, reveling in the looks of terror on the faces of their
Perhaps the biggest surprise for me was the little guys, jammed up on the wall. These sideways-speakers, called Iota ($995) may be little, but they throw big sound. During my walkthrough, the big set of speakers were switched for the Iota, and I saw several people come in, sit down, and comment on how coherent the big speakers sounded. For the record, the switch-back cleared up their misconceptions pronto-burger, but the case was made — the little guys were working overtime for their pay. And with that close-wall setup, I was thinking “room friendly” as well as “budget-friendly”. This was perhaps my favorite “hidden treasure” at this show.