Sunil Merchant of Sunny Components, a Stenheim dealer right here in Southern California, was putting on perhaps the most trafficked and popular room of the show. The room was so popular that despite being one of the large first floor ballrooms, the staff had to take appointments of large groups every half hour–a testament to just how good this room was.
Words and Photos by Grover Neville
The ever-generous Lenny Mayeux of MoFi let me slip in for a few moments in the back while spinning some vinyl, which was a force to be reckoned with, and the Brinkmann Taurus turntable and CH Precision electronics did not disappoint, but the real treat for me was getting to hear the Stenheim Reference Ultime 2 speakers play with the Wadax digital components.
The Wadax electronics are some of the most expensive, beautiful and technically interesting gear I’ve come across. Hailing from Spain, the company has some serious R&D firepower, having designed and programmed their own ASIC for digital filtering. This is an enormously expensive proposition, and the Wadax gear uses custom boards, exotic power supplies and unbelievably expensive parts to put together what is likely one of the most fascinating assaults in state-of-the-art digital conversion. They often show with brands like Avantgarde Acoustic and the aforementioned CH Precision and Stenheim, which certainly doesn’t hurt their chances of showing well.
Whatever the content situation, this system sounded huge and impressive. Center images weren’t as stable as I might hope, but I would largely blame this on the room, as this was a smaller and more compromised room than some of the other first floor exhibit spaces. Despite all of that, the Stenheim’s showed well, and the digital and vinyl runs were both epic. Bass was well sorted out, and there were oodles of detail and auditory information, arranged in a coherent and pleasing way. The Stenheims, to my ears, were less aggressive and demanding when it came to detail than some large aluminum speakers I’ve heard. They didn’t scream or make a fuss in the top end or mid-range, they simply and happily pumped out great sound.
I should add that I also saw several interactions between existing customers and Sunil Merchant, and he was more than happy to speak with and help those who were buying NADs as those who were buying Wadax or Stenheim. In a hobby where tax brackets can sometimes feel like a line in the sand, it was refreshing to see such down to earth interactions happening no matter the budget being discussed.
For a Southern California native like myself, this show increasingly shaped up to be a great introduction to the local scene, and Sunny Components is another fine addition to my list of must-visit-retailers (and manufacturers) in the area.
- Stenheim Reference Ultime 2 – $150,000/pr USD
- CH Precision M 1.1 amplifier – $54,000 USD
- CH Precision L1 line preamplifier – $34,500 USD
- CH Precision X1 dual power supply – $31,000 USD
- Brinkmann Taurus Turntable with 12.1 tonearm – $21,000 USD
- Koetsu Cartridge – $3,995 USD
- CH Precision P1 Phonostage – $31,000 USD
- Wadax Atlantis Reference DAC – $145,000 USD
- Neodeo Origine S2 CD – $24,900 USD
- Wadax Reference Streamer – $67,000 USD
- Audioquest Dragon and Audience Cabling – (price not listed)
- HRS SXR Audio stands with Vortex feet and damping plates – (price not listed)
Photos continue below, and more T.H.E. SHOW 2021 coverage can be found HERE.
About The Author
Grover Neville, Contributor
Grover is a recent transplant to Los Angeles, CA, and a graduate of the Oberlin Conservatory, where he studied music, creative writing, and how to wear skinny jeans. After graduating Grover pursued a freelance career in audio, doing professional research in the fields of Auditory Cognition, Psychoacoustics, and Experimental Hydrophone Design.
Before moving to Los Angeles, Grover worked and lived in Chicago, Illinois as a mixing and mastering engineer, working in genres such as Avant-garde Classical music and Jazz. As a recent transplant to L.A., Grover now works in the music, video game, and film industries.
He is also actively pursuing a career as an independent musician, composer, and producer. Grover wrote for Innerfidelity and Audiostream, before finding his forever-home at Part-Time Audiophile.