My Saturday highlights for FLAX 2020 start off with the fact that I haven’t seen much of Tampa during my visit–except what I can view from my 14th floor hotel room. I can barely see just a sliver of ocean from here, and only if the sun hits it just right. Nice sunrises, though. By tonight I will be back in Rochester, where about two-and-a-half feet of snow has fallen while I’ve been in Florida.
My first Saturday highlight comes from a familiar source–Linear Tube Audio, ANTICABLES and Spatial Audio. For the last few shows these companies have been offering a special on the Linear Tube Audio Z10 integrated (which I recently reviewed and loved), the Spatial Audio M3 Sapphires, along with the cables and a LampizatOr Amber 3 DAC, for $10,950. I almost felt a tinge of anger when I asked myself, “Why didn’t they have something this good for this amount of money when I was a journeyman audiophile, reading all the magazines and dreaming of a sound that was this incredible?” I don’t think there’s a better way to spend $11,000 in the entire world of high-end audio. Just magnificent.
Another Saturday highlight…I’ve been talking about getting a pair of Stenheim loudspeakers from Switzerland in for review for a long time now, and I think I finally have these exquisite aluminum boxes scheduled for a test drive. Using VAC, VPI and more, this system checks all of my favorite boxes–especially when it comes to incredible detail within a relaxed, open presentation.
I truly enjoyed the EgglestonWorks Emma EVO loudspeakers that I reviewed in The Occasional last year, so I was very pleased to hear the new EgglestonWorks OSOs that are slightly larger, with side-firing woofers. Matched with ModWright amplification and a VPI HW-40 direct drive turntable, the sound was warm and welcoming. Dan Wright treated me to the first side of one of my favorite albums, Dead Can Dance’s Into the Labyrinth, and it sounded just about perfect in every way. That was a true Saturday highlight.
In the Musical Surroundings room, I was intrigued with the beautiful AMG Giro turntable and its “optical” phono cartridge from DS Audio. It was an unusual set-up–a beautiful analog rig that cost close to $20,000, mated to a modest Rogue Audio integrated amp and a $1400 pair of Magnepan .7 loudspeakers. It worked beautifully, though.
The last Saturday highlight happened in the final room of the day. I ventured into the Eikon Audio after hearing plenty of buzz at the last couple of audio shows, and for the first time I noticed that this new brand was from Gayle Sanders, the audio legend who founded MartinLogan. The Eikon Audio system is a 180 degree turn from ESLs–for $25,000 you get a complete system of speakers, amplification, DAC and more. (There are four amplifiers inside each of the speakers).
Here’s the real Saturday highlight–Gayle Sanders himself sat down next to me and started discussing his new products. I’ve never met him, but I’ve always admired him. (Yeah, I was starstruck.) We had a wonderful discussion, and before I knew it was closing time. I’m going back to that room on Sunday to find out more info on this very intriguing system.
Then it’s back to winter in Rochester, where it’s a very different world. Thanks, Tampa, for the brief respite.