I traveled several hours on a rainy May afternoon to the Cherry Hill, New Jersey, showroom of Hi-Fi Sales for its “Bringing It All Together” manufacturers’ event. Scheduled to attend were Gary Ko, president and CEO of Genesis Advanced Technologies; Robert Pleyer, sales director of Rogers High Fidelity; Princeton University professor Edgar Choueiri, the founder of Theoretica Applied Physics; and the father-son team of Harry Weisfeld and Mat Weisfeld, the founder/owner and president, respectively, of VPI Industries.
The Home Entertainment Show Newport 2018, which was quickly organized after the abrupt cancellation of the Los Angeles Audio Show 2018, turned out to be a small but interesting and fun show, featuring a wide variety of high-end audio products I hadn’t seen before. The show was held June 1-3 at the Marriott Irvine Spectrum in Irvine, California.
The fact that The Home Entertainment Show Newport 2018 is even happening comes as a welcome surprise to Southern California audiophiles. After the show’s founder passed away in 2016, the show organizers split into warring camps. One started the Los Angeles Audio Show, which took place in June 2017 and was generally considered a success. T.H.E. Show 2017 ended up being cancelled due to lack of interest. But when the organizer of the 2018 LAAS abruptly cancelled that show last month, Maurice Jung, who ended up owning T.H.E. Show, quickly put together a 2018 event, from June 1 to 3 at the Marriott Irvine Spectrum in Irvine, California.
Given the overwhelming number of innovative speakers, amplifiers, turntables, and other gear being introduced at High End 2018, it’s easy to overlook new headphones, DAPs, and portable DACs. Unless you’re specifically looking for them, of course, which is something we made a point of doing. Here are a few highlights from the headphones category, which more than once provided us with a moment of peace and escape during an otherwise frenetic show.
Companies featured in gallery below: EMM Labs, Merging Technologies, Boulder Amplifiers, Monitor Audio, Dynaudio, Q Acoustics, DALI, T+A, Innuos, Goldmund, Technics, Amphion, iFi, Audio Research, Kii Audio, Marten, Engström
I love integrated amplifiers -- and I love integrated amplifier-DACs even more. There’s just something about the simplicity, and cost savings, of having your preamplifier, power amplifier, and digital source all in one box. At High End 2018, there were plenty of integrated amps ranging from the very frugal to the super spendy, but a couple of new models really caught my eye.
Companies featured in gallery below: Focal, Diapason, Stenheim, Simaudio, Gryphon Audio Designs, Hegel Music Systems, Elac, Vimberg, PMC, Audio Physic, Nordost, Göbel, Wilson Benesch, Brinkmann Audio
Marantz is using the occasion of High End 2018 to release its new SA-KI Ruby SACD player and PM-KI Ruby integrated amplifier. The KI in there stands for Ken Ishiwata, the company’s brand ambassador, who is celebrating his 40th anniversary with Marantz (hence, the Ruby designation).
I first met Gryphon Audio Designs’ Flemming Rasmussen at High End 2001. Back then, High End was held in Frankfurt, Germany, at the Kempinski Hotel. The hulking black class-A amps of Gryphon were new and fascinating to me. Over the ensuing years, I spent time with Flemming at shows and corresponded with him over e-mail. I came to know him as a kind, caring man with a great passion for music and music reproduction. During the past 20 years, I’ve reviewed many Gryphon products and grown a tremendous admiration for the brand in general -- but there was no separating Gryphon and its products from Flemming Rasmussen. He was -- is -- the heart and soul of Gryphon.
Some of my SoundStage! colleagues give me a bit of a hard time because I don’t stream music. Maybe this will be the year that I finally break down and subscribe to a streaming service -- or maybe not. But at this year’s High End 2018 show in Munich, I saw a couple of high-end streaming devices that just might make me change my mind.
Companies featured in gallery below: SGR Audio, Paradigm, Estelon, Dan D’Agostino Master Audio Systems, Bassocontinuo, Ayre Acoustics, EAR, YBA, Aurender, AudioSolutions, Cocktail Audio, Cayin, Cambridge Audio, Cary Audio, SME, Clearaudio
Companies featured in gallery below: Raidho, Scansonic, Crystal Cable, Vitus Audio, Luxman, Von Schweikert Audio, EgglestonWorks, TriangleArt, dCS, Thrax, Sonus Faber, Auralic, Vivid Audio, Lumin, Furutech
The 2018 CanJam SoCal headphone show, held at the JW Marriott Los Angeles L.A. Live hotel in downtown Los Angeles, wrapped up on Sunday. As one of the most high-profile headphone events in the world, CanJam SoCal always hosts a slew of new and recent products I haven’t seen before. I’ve already reported on several new headphones and earphones, as well as new amplifiers and a headphone processing app. Here’s the last of my three CanJam SoCal reports, again focusing on headphones and earphones. All products are presented in alphabetical order with prices listed in USD.
At the CanJam SoCal headphone show last weekend, which took place at the JW Marriott Los Angeles L.A. Live hotel in downtown Los Angeles, most of the action in new products was in headphones. But I did spot a few interesting new headphone amps and related products -- a couple of which came in at refreshingly low prices. Here are the most interesting ones I found, with all prices listed in USD.
CanJam is a series of headphone shows that take place at locations around the world. This year has already seen shows in New York, Singapore, and Southern California, with shows in London, Denver, and Shanghai coming later this year. Last weekend, I attended the Southern California show, at the JW Marriott Los Angeles L.A. Live hotel, located in downtown Los Angeles, and came away with photos and info on numerous new headphones, earphones, and headphone amps. Here’s the first batch of cool headphones and earphones I found, presented in alphabetical order with all prices listed in USD.
In his February 2017 SoundStage! Hi-Fi editorial, “The Best of the Worst CES in Decades: 2017,” Doug Schneider named Simaudio’s Moon 888 mono power amplifier one of the best new products of CES 2017 -- and it’s easy to see why. Weighing in at more than 250 pounds and rated by the manufacturer to deliver 888W into 8 ohms or 1776W into 4 ohms, this massive $59,444 USD behemoth monoblock ($118,888/pair) is an all-out assault on the state-of-the-art in amplifier design. It also just happens to be one of the most gorgeous solid-state amplifiers that I have ever seen, with a shining machined-aluminum faceplate offset by the matte-black, cast-aluminum heatsinks and a swooping top cover with an inset Moon logo.
So many new speakers! Year 2018 was an anomaly, with more speaker introductions at Montreal Audio Fest than I’ve seen in recent memory. Let’s get to it with our third installment on loudspeakers -- all prices in Canadian dollars.
It’d be fun to view the penetration of analog into the Montreal Audio Fest and its prior years’ incarnations as a graph. It’d be a long, flat, straight line with a few small upticks through the early 2000s, then a gentle rise as the format slowly regained its popularity. Then, back in 2016, the curve reached the knee. The year 2017 found further acceleration toward the vertical. This year, ’tables were everywhere. Not necessarily actively playing, mind you, but it seemed that nearly every room had a record player holding down the street cred.
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