At the 2019 Rocky Mountain Audio Fest, New York City dealer In Living Stereo presented a room that was close to my heart. First, they presented a vinyl-only system, something I’ve done before at high-end audio shows and found unusually satisfying and fun. Second, they used the Trenner & Friedl Osiris ($8500/pair) as loudspeakers. You probably know from the Spring Issue of The Occasional that I’m a huge fan, not to mention owner, of T&F. I found this exciting, however, because the Osiris is perhaps the only model from these Austrian speaker designers that I haven’t yet heard. Bob Clarke, the US distributor for Trenner & Friedl and a good friend of mine, demonstrated this wonderful and surprisingly petite floorstanding two-way monitor.
In Living Stereo’s exhibit room, however, slowly revealed treasures as I spent considerable time there listening to fantastic music. First, those tube amps! They were from Mactone, a Japanese electronics company that’s been around since 1964–the founder, Kenjiro Matsumoto, is still in charge! In Living Stereo brought MH-120 stereo amplifier ($10,995), which runs on KT120s, the XX-7000 line stage preamplifier ($17,800) and the XP305 phono preamplifier ($9,995), and both the sound and the looks of this gear was a delightful cross between the finest vintage tube gear and modern, state-of-the-art performance and features.
The rest of the system included the Clearaudio Innovation Compact turntable with Tracer tonearm ($10,000), a Hana ML cartridge ($1200), and cabling and step-up transformers from Auditorium 23. There was a Japanese gentleman sitting quietly in the corner of the room, and eventually I was introduced to him–he was Hiroshi Ishihara, the President of Youtek Limited, the company that manufactures Hana. We had a wonderful time discussing how his company is making an impact on the US high-end audio market by producing high-quality Japanese cartridges for a reasonable price.
That was the key to the In Living Stereo room–excellent company. In addition to Bob and Mr. Ishihara, I was also finally able to meet Steven Mishoe of In Living Stereo–he was one of my dealers back when I was a distributor, and I never got a chance to visit his store in person. That’s my loss–with this beautifully matched system, it’s clear that ILS knows how to create fantastic results. This system was easily one of my favorites at the 2019 RMAF. It sounded alive, exciting and true to the spirit of the music. I even returned after hours for more!