Cost-no-object system: Wilson Alexx, driven by Doshi tube amps (Paragon/Wilson Audio room). Neutral, effortless and jaw-dropping sound, combined with realistic weight, solidity and image height.
$150,000 to $200,000 system: Sonus Faber Lilium speakers powered by Aesthetix electronics (Quintessence Audio/Musical Surroundings room). Ultimate refinement and ease, with excellent pace and resolution.
$100,000 to $150,000 system: Volti with BorderPatrol front end (Volti/Triode room). Addictive, near-holographic, highly musical.
$50,000 to $100,000 system: ProAc speakers driven by VTL tube gear (VTL/ProMusica room). Focused and controlled with excellent midrange.
$10,000 to $50,000 system: Legacy Signature SE driven by Raven Audio amp (Legacy/Raven room). Admirable top-to-bottom balance, a non-fatiguing treble and nice handling of transients. Would need to pay a lot more for small degrees of improvement.
Less than $10,000 system: Audio Alchemy electronics, ELAC Uni-Fi UB5 speakers. Puts high-end sound within the reach of almost any enthusiast. (Room review, here).
Most intriguing new product: DS Audio Master 1 optical cartridge. Blended warmth and smoothness of analog with excellent detail retrieval.
Still trending down: Red Book compact discs. (A sealed Japanese import of the XRCD version of Steve Miller’s “The Joker” was selling for $5 in the lobby.)
Trending up: Class D amps, music streamers, 45-rpm vinyl, big-ticket cable and power cords.
Legends on site: David Wilson, Dan D’Agostino, Kevin Hayes, Paul McGowan, A.J. Van den Hul, Frank Van Alstine.
Best show-sponsored live band: Catfight.