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CAF 2018: Sound Insight, GT Audio Works, Pass Labs, Semper Sonus, Esoteric, Triode Wire Labs, ATS Acoustics

KEF R Series

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Sound Insight made the subs, GT Audio Works made the speakers, Pass Labs made gobs of power, Semper Sonus provides the mechanical wizardry, Esoteric and Vu Jade Audio kept things nice and dark, while Triode Wire Labs and ATS Acoustics kept everything in check.

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The Story

Sound Insight is a New York state dealer with two showrooms in Long Island; one in Massapequa, and the other in Huntington. Here at Capital Audiofest, stood one of the companies greatest contributions to hi-fi.

The GT Audio Works GTA3R planar ribbon loudspeakers use a proprietary membrane, and no crossover. They are mated directly in full-range to the amplifier. From 40hz on up, the two-way system of planar driver and ribbon tweeter handles everything with ease. Surprising to write that, but after witnessing it all sans electronic crossover, I’m a believer. From 50hz down, it’s on to the sub-woofers.

The Sound Insight Subs come available in two, three, four, or six — per side (in two channel) configuration. They are completely open-baffle, and include their own amplification. Custom colors and details abound. It’s pretty much a have it your way sub-woofer system. With bass down to 16hz at the low end, and open-baffle loading, there really isn’t a musical task these subs couldn’t handle.

A turntable I would have liked to spend more time with is the new Semper Sonus TE1. A three speed motor (33 / 45 / 78) design with: twin ceramic bearings, epicycle drive BLDC motor, a concrete filled aluminum extrusion plinth, rubber damping, and a Corian and aluminum armboard pre-drilled to your tonearm of choice. If you are wondering what “epicycle drive” means, it’s what happens when a rubber pulley under the platter spins in direct contact with the platter’s inner-outer edge. “Look Mom, no belts.”

To be fair and transparent about this, the GT Audio Works GT3R planar ribbon speakers do not — (I repeat) DO NOT — need sub-woofers. Yet the exhibitors decided that the GT3R’s would be best deployed at Capital Audiofest with the addition of a few Sound Insight’s SI 600 self-powered open-baffle sub-woofers. The sub-woofer configuration was six 12″ servo-driven subs per side. It was absolute madness all the way down to 16Hz. Do we need this? Was it fantastically hilarious and serious as a heartbeat at the same time? Definitely.

The Sound

This was very close to being my favourite sounding room of the show. Laser like precision of imaging. Ultra-wide scale of bass and soundstage. No boominess of the bass to be found anywhere. Dispersion of the low-end frequencies seemed to radiate from the room’s farthest physical boundaries. Dynamics and power by the boatload. As resolving as planar ribbons can be, there was no sign of noise up front or behind the speakers. The Class-A amplifiers from Pass Labs were performing flawlessly. We switched back and forth between digital and vinyl, but for my money, the digital in this room was the star of the show. The Vu Jade DAC is new to me, but it was eerily quiet and dark where necessary.

The System

GT Audio Works

– GTA 3R Planar Ribbon Loudspeakers

Sound Insight

– SI 600 Open Baffle Servo Sub-woofers

Semper Sonus

– TE1 Turntable (Tonearm and Cartridge Uncertain)

Esoteric

– KO1 Xs Super Audio CD / CD Player

Vu Jade Audio

– DHT DAC and Power Supply

Pass Labs

– XA60.8 Class-A Monoblock Amplifier

– Xs Phono Preamplifier (Dual Chassis)

– Xs Preamplifier (Dual Chassis)

All Cabling by Triode Wire Labs

All Room Treatments by ATS Acoustics

1 Comment on CAF 2018: Sound Insight, GT Audio Works, Pass Labs, Semper Sonus, Esoteric, Triode Wire Labs, ATS Acoustics

  1. mike mattera // December 7, 2018 at 6:20 AM // Reply

    Hi,
    Thanks for your interest in the SemperSonus idler wheel turntable, tonearm exhibited at the show was a Schick arm mounted with a prototype Lyra cartridge, yet to be released.

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