Let’s set the stage for this second show report from Axpona; this show was fantastic and overwhelming at the same time. Indeed, Part-Time Audiophile had five (!) writers there and I don’t believe any of us felt we had seen everything. How could we? It was just one room after another of fine sound. But like most audio shows, there were a few rooms that really stood out. Let’s get rolling with the first from Bending Wave USA, importers of Goebel and CH Precision gear. Now in the past, I’ve been wowed by the “bending wave” technology but this show featured the Divin loudspeakers without the bending wave panel. Giant, sculpted, and angular in size. The Divin Noblesse have two 12 inch bass chassis drivers, two 8 inch midrange drivers, and a wave guide loaded AMT tweeter. Oliver mentioned to me that they spent a lot of time getting rid of distortions in the driver surrounds and used their bending wave technology to refine the drivers. Oliver seems to be a big believer in isolation too. He uses heavy metal tubes on his Lacorde cables and he uses totally isolated crossovers with different epoxy resins and a silent enclosure.
But to showcase a system like this, you need lots of space. Elliot Goldman found a sweet location on the 15th floor that was, ahem, a large suite. It didn’t really look like it would sound as damn good as it did. There was a huge amount of glass on the left side as I sat down in the middle second-row seat on Thursday and took in some tunes from Elliot’s playlist. As soon as the first track finished, I knew this would be one of those rooms I would need a second and third listen. German wunderkind Oliver Gobel was on hand to talk about his speakers and set them up properly.
The sound was…BIg, Bold, Clear. Soundstage ability was putting on a clinic. Front to back deck, wide open dimensions in every way. But centering all of this was an incredibly lifelike vocal which caused me to forget about the cramped flight to O’Hare. The power of the speaker was effortless, which arguably it should have been given the CH Precision amplification. Elliot seems to have graduated from the David Solomon School of Fine Demos. His playlist is very interesting and available to all. The DAC quality of the CH gear is sublime. Analog playback was no joke either. A professional setup guy from Japan quietly assembled a TechDAS Airforce One while Elliot played digital.. Later visits would show the same big, resolving sound with LPs.
Tying it all together was the Lacorde cables from Gobel. Yep, Oliver created his own cables using some alloy that seems to be guarded like the Coca-Cola formula. Elliot managed to pass through Atlanta and he wanted me to try the cables so he lent me some speaker cable and interconnects. These cables are really good. Very clear and open but you need lots of floor space as these cables are the largest diameter cables I have seen before, resembling something Georgia Power might leave on the side of the road following storm repairs. They have luxuriously cut isolation boxes at each end that are heavy! The interconnects have Neutrik XLR connectors that might be four inches long (!). All I can tell you is that they worked quite well on the Wilson Alexias at home…which leads me to believe they were a material part of the world-class sound I heard in the Gobel room in Schaumberg.
Elliot played a Bruce Springsteen song I had not heard from his Live on Broadway show. In this song, Brilliant Disguise, Bruce was in the room. “I hold you in my arms…” Clapping in the audience adds in air to the recording. It’s a personal sound. The guitar has texture, the vocals are more chesty and gravely like present day Bruce really is. It’s a wonderful song with beautiful lyrics. The sound is effortless on the Divin. No, the word I am looking for is intimate, just like his Broadway show is described.
The equipment list was as follows:
- CH Precision
- L1 stereo preamp $34,500
- C1 Stereo Dac with USB board $38,500
- M 1.1 Stereo power amp $54,000
- P1 phono Stage $31,000
- Gobel Divin Noblesse speakers $220,000
- Goebel Lacorde Reference Cables
- Speaker 10 ft $23,000
- Power Cords $8,500 2.m
- Balanced cables $7,000 for 1.2 meter
- TechDAS Airforce 1 premium Tt w/Graham Elite arm with titanium arm tube and TechDas Cartridge
I heard a lot of great rooms but Gobel and CH are real contenders for the best sound at the show. This system connected me to the music in an emotional way. There is no higher goal for a high end system. A Top Three room for me and a stunning achievement in show conditions. Oliver makes a damn fine speaker and Elliot was smart enough to find him. This sort of sound is very rare but it’s exactly what high end audio is all about.