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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Well, I had a fun, exhausting day at H.E. 2004 in NYC on Friday. I will post brief capsule reviews of what I heard in the coming days, but I though first I would post a few general impressions of the show.


This is my third H.E. show in NYC (I attended in 2001 and 2002). Each show is more crowded than the last. I wish I could spend more than one day there, as I missed all the seminars while visiting the various vendor displays.


The press was there in larger numbers than ever, and the show had a press office (not sure if this was new). MSNBC in particular was covering a lot of the show. Even analog high-end audio got covered. I was surprised the press was interested in anything that can't be hung on a wall!


Some notable absences: I did not see any Pipe Dreams, or any large, multi-element high end speakers. These require larger rooms than the guest rooms, and those rooms are expensive, so I am not surprised by this. I did not see any Dynaudio at the show, which surprised me in light of their great sound two years ago.


I was dissappointed that I did not get in to Von Schweikert's room. There was a long line for the periodic demos, and I could not wait. This wasn't the first time this happened. Von Schweikert, if you read this, please, please get a bigger room next time.


My personal favorite Roman Audio was not in attendance. Nor was AV123 (Onix, Emotiva, etc.), which I think is odd for a direct-mail seller with new gear to showcase.


I was hoping Vandersteen would be demoing the new Quatros, but Audio Connections instead went with a Model 5a demo.


A lot of demos changed my impressions from two years ago, for better and worse. Interesting.


The show's hours need to be expanded. It's hard on the vendors, I know, but they should open at 9 am, and stay open until 7 pm.


The CD vendors should think about headphone listening kiosks to demo their CDs. I wish I was a music expert, but I have no idea what some of the titles on Chesky and Mapleshade and other labels are like, so great show discounts are meaningless to me.


I will post my notes on individual exhibitors one at a time, but I will award my "best sound of show" prize to Ray Kimber's DSD demo recording using his Isomic baffle system. Awesome!


I met a few hobby personalities at the show, including Ray Kimber, Jeff Hipps of Sherwood and Jonathan Scull and K-10 (no longer in the industry, but it's nice to see him still active in the hobby).


I had no time focus on video, so my comments in future posts are mainly confined to audio.


I am relying on my notes, since after over six hours of demos, everything becomes a blur.


Some exhibitors were willing to play my CDs. Some played great CDs of their own, but there were way too many that played unlistenable garbage to demo their gear, and would not play visitors' CDs. If any exhibitors wondered why my friend and I left a room without really giving the gear a fair audition, they need look no further than the horrible music they insisted on playing. I'm talking Dolly Parton and way too much country in general. Sorry country fans, but I can enjoy almost anything except country and opera.


The popularity of HT vs. audio resulted in several exhibitors only using action films as demos. No music at all. IMHO, any mega-watt amp fed into decent speakers can impress at high volumes when watching T3, but I want to hear how these monster systems do on music, darn it!


Some exhibitors went super-commercial with emphasis on spouse-friendly things like tiny speakers, in-walls, etc. Word to Polk: your demo in the 2002 show with your top-of-the-line speakers was great fun and impressive, but serious audio geeks like myself couldn't care less about in-wall speakers and enclosures.


And Richard Grey's boxes were present, but not nearly as ubiquitous as in 2002. This confirms the pay-to-play suspicions I had two years ago.


A general note about my impressions to be posted in the coming weeks: My friend and I dissagreed strongly on what sounded good and bad. Once again, my hyper-sensitivity to harshness or distortion in the brightness range (4 to 8 kHz) was confirmed. Wherever possible, I will point out my friend's impressions in contrast to my own.


Overall, it was hog-heaven for audio geeks like me, and I can't wait until H.E. 2005 in NYC! Bring it, baby!
 

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Agreed, the show was huge fun (but too crowded). The next-generation front projectors were amazing. Music reproduction was hit-or-miss depending on room set-up and proximity to booming home theater presentations.


Most grin-inducing life-like music for me was the Innersound speakers and amplification. They sounded very nice walking into the room, but once you sat down in the sweet spot: BAM. YOU ARE THERE.


Any other votes for "Best Sound" at show?
 

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There has always been a press room.


AV123 had visitors there but no exhibit. There were others in this category as well.


The VonSchweikert demo was worth the wait but, I agree, that Ray Kimber's was the 'don't miss' demo.


Jonathan Scull is still in the industry as a PR rep for a number of companies.
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
One of these days, I'm gonna visit a Von Schweikert dealer and finally find out what all the brewhaha is over those speakers!


Thanks for the corrections.


BTW, another notable absence, at least I didn't see it, was the NAD/PSB room I saw two years ago. I didn't enjoy it much personally, but there was a lot of buzz about in in 2002, especially considering the price/performance ratio.


More to come...
 

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I was at the show. It's my first in 3 decades. :) I was struck by vendors limiting their speakers to one or two of their line, at most. VonSchweikert only had one speaker on display, which, by the way, I loved and intend to purchase. The rooms were too small for a fuller line of speakers to be shown. I agree about the selling of cds by vendors I never heard of. You should be able to hear samples. All vendors used tube amps and cables as large as a Fire Dept. water hose. Do cables like that really make an audible difference?
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
Warning! If it's been 30 years since you were into this hobby, I gotta warn you that the great cable debate has turned into all-out war!;) Be prepared for some pretty violent opinions on both sides of that. Just remember, as far as the show is concerned, that most exhibitors are there to sell product, and including fancy cables as part of a system is a marketing tool. This doesn't mean that expensive cables are worth it, or that they're not. Two years ago, everyone was using Richard Grey's Power Company outlet boxes. This was no coincidence. Either RGPC provided them or there was some other incentive for exhibitors to use them. None of them were tucked away; they were all prominently displayed. This year, I only saw one or two RGPC boxes.


While tube electronics continue to grow in popularity, there was still plenty of solid state in evidence, and some of it sounded mighty good! I will be posting my impressions here in the weeks ahead.
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
The Sonic Spirits (Closter, NJ) room consisted of the following system:


Modified Sony DVD/SACD player


Blue Circle BC3000 MkII tubed dual-mono preamp ($6495)


Blue Circle BC206 hybrid stereo amp ($9995)


Focus Audio Signature FS-888 floorstanding speakers ($7750)


Audience Au24 interconnects (1m $502)


Audience adeptResponse power conditioner ($tbd)


Golden Sound DH Cones - (Large set of 3: $50)


Golden Sound Pad (small: $150)


Billy Bags rack ($698)


Impressions: Excellent soundstage and extension at both frequency extremes. Smooth highs, but a tad dry. No harsh treble here. Low grain, great clarity and definition, a little chesty in lower mid-range/upper-bass vocal range. Honestly, after some the Soundstage review, I expected to be blown away by the Focus Audios, especially since they were being fed by such hi-end electronics, but I was not. A very good system, to be sure, but not as neutral as one should expect for this kind of money.
 

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Of course, I knew in advance that the two firms I was most interested in, B&W and Arcam, would not exhibit at the show but I was still disappointed. What I did see was good, bad, and indifferent. I agree the music was for the most part terrible. I live in an apartment in NYC and I told the people at the show that the noisy movies sections they were playing would be impossible for me plus I do not like those type of movies. I realize a lot of people do but how about the rest of us once in a while. I did think that the Totem speakers sounded great given the amount of money they are asking.


Jesse
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
This rather high end system used a Pioneer 563a DVD player as a source component! Voice reproduction was top notch on this 5.1, top of the line system, which used the Halo C1 pre-pro, Halo JC1 monoblocks and Halo A51 multichannel amps to feed the Bohlender 520i panel/dynamic towers ($4000/pr) and 220i center channel, Ethereal ICs, plus a remarkable B-G subwoofer, the 210i ($1499). This unusually shaped, compact sub measures only 16.25"W X 17.5"D X 14.7"H, uses 2 10" kevlar woofers with a built-in 500 watt Class D BASH amp. It is a sealed enclosure with a tube connecting the two woofers that extends from one side of the box enclosure.


While the voice reproduction was excellent, the sound could get a bit harsh on peaks. Dispersion was excellent, especially for panel speakers, and the bass was seamless and tight from that 210i sub. Overall, nice sound, very WAF-friendly, but frankly, not what I would spend $4K on for a pair of main speakers. For that kind of $, I want smooth upper-mids and treble even when I push the volume hard. That sub ought to be a contender, though.
 

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Hey, the Pioneer 563A kicked butt.

Were you there when I was playing the MP3's.

Saturday morning before the show opened I was playing an MP3 CD that I had made from my laptop while I cleaned up the room. A few people wandered in, then a few more all told about 10 were in there enjoying the music. At this point I realized that they did not know that they were hearing an MP3. I stood up and asked if they liked what they heard. Got some yes'es. Told them that what they were listening to was an MP3 on a $130 Pioneer DVD player (open box from C.C.) with only $600 worth of cables in the entire room. One guy in the front got up an left. The rest stayed and had a good time. Richard Schram (pres. & owner of Parasound) had come in by this time and got a good laugh form the whole thing.

I talked to a lot of people and had a great time, I even met Tom Jung (DMP Records) we used his "Flim & the BB's" CD's for a lot of our demos in the 80's.

I was also surprised at the number of people who would walk in see the LCD screen and walk right out because and I quote "I only listen to two channel". I did talk to several AVS members were you one.
 

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Discussion Starter · #12 ·
I was there early on Friday morning with a buddy of mine from 6th Avenue. I did not tell you that I was an AVSer (I didn't know YOU were!).


Whenever I listen to compressed audio files, especially at 160k or better, I have a hard time telling the difference between that and a standard Red Book CD. So sue me!;) But remember, most people think DD sound is "CD quality", and it is less than 500kbps, I think. So how much worse do my 320kbps MP3 downloads sound? Not much. BTW, I assumed the Pioneer was being used with it's digital audio outputs, not its own DACs.


Thanks for the demo!
 

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You are correct Sir!

I used the Pioneer coax out.

The two channel analog out is very weak.

Although the DVD/A & SACD sounded good. I do remember seeing someone with a 6th Ave. tag. I am sorry that we did not get a chance to talk.

I did not notice the the upper freq. edge, but there was a midbass resonance that came with the room. Richard, Fred and I all tried to get rid of it. No luck.

Did you talk to anyone in our room?

More to the point. any thoughts on my cables.

Did we have the HD Tivo going while you were there?
 

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Discussion Starter · #15 ·
Sorry if I could not pay as much attention to the video portion of the show as you would have liked, but audio reproduction is also a large part of Home Theater. You are free to skip over this thread as you read AVSForum. Also, I specifically started a new thread because, as I said:

Quote:
I had no time focus on video, so my comments in future posts are mainly confined to audio.
Please understand that as a HT enthusiast, my focus is on the audio part. Where music was used to demo a system, I based my comments on the music. Where a soundtrack was used, I based my comments on that.


Perhaps some other show attendees who were more focused on video displays will be kind enough to start their own threads.
 

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Discussion Starter · #16 ·
I did not notice any mid-bass hump. As for the upper frequency edge, as I said in the original post of this thread, I am hyper-sensitive to the brightness range, and what others find smooth, I often find harsh. YMMV. I find it difficult to comment on the cables. Surely they were not doing anything wrong that I could hear. They seem very well made and not over-priced, but there was no way to evaluate their sonic contribution outside of the whole system. That's universal to the show - all room systems are presented as a synergistic whole, and identifying what's good or not good among the components in a system is impossible. I can only relate my impressions on the whole presentation.
 

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Discussion Starter · #17 ·
I spent a few minutes in one of the two Aperion rooms, the one with the HT setup. The front end was all Onkyo - a good choice that would be typical of components used with Aperion speakers.


Overall, the Aperion towers (with built-in subwoofers) being shown were smooth, with a nice tonal balance. Very good dynamics, with "feel it in your gut" bass.The soundstage was a bit narrow, with soome upper-bass and lower-midrange emphasis. This could well have been from the small room. The result was sound that was a tad boomy. The sound with the SACD of Dark Side of the Moon was a bit grainy. While a great value for the price ($2338 for a full five-channel system including the towers with built-in subs), they did not strike me as being very detailed or revealing speakers. A brief film demo showed the new 4-element center speaker to be very good at dialog representation. The Aperion representative did not allow me to use any of my own CDs, even though my friend and I were the only ones in the room. That sort of attitude naturally makes me suspicious.


Oddly enough, my memory of the H.E. 2002 Aperion demo was that of harshly over-bright satellite speakers. Here, there was no harshness, at the expense of some upper-range detail and openness.
 

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Hi Bondmanp. Thanks for stopping by. Wish that you'd have introduced yourself! There's so many people floating around everywhere at the show, that you tend to not really get in touch with people on a one-on-one level.


We're new to the HE Show (and any shows for that matter) and decided in advance to do a more programmed demo. Last year in SF we opted to let people play whatever they wanted all the time...that's great for the person getting to hear their music, but it mostly alienates others in the room, and so we opted to allow people to play their own tunes at the end of each day. I know you said you were the only one in the room, but people do tend to pop in on a moment's notice.


We opted to use Onkyo gear since, like you said, most customers who would be using these speakers would also be using this type/grade of electronics. Plus, we sell Onkyo, so it made sense there.


Indeed, the room sounded a bit boomy and we really tried to do all we could to balance it out. I did find that most AV enthusiasts typically like a bit more bass than audiophiles such as yourself (or myself even) so I'll admit that we turned the subs up a bit. People loved it. The soundstage was simply an effect of having to place the speakers so close to each other in such a small room. Hopefully next time we'll be able to get into a bigger room.


Okay, can't hold it in any longer... I had a hell of a good time at the show. I got to share the warm and fuzzy Aperion message to a lot of people; I got to give away a bunch of free stuff (which was REALLY fun - Aperion SPL meters and tshirts). AND, we actually made some great new friends. We're really looking forward to the next one.


Cheers, and thanks for all the GREAT feedback...


I truly appreciate it...
 

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The sound of the Aperion setup, given the room limitations and the modest front end, was very good indeed. Listen, at this price point, quibling over a narrow soundstage or a mid-bass hump is pretty funny. Name another system for the same money that sounded this good at the show. (Was there any other system at this price point at the show? Walking from room to room, we were more likely to be hearing systems where the cd player alone cost as much as the whole Aperion setup.) Well done.
 

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Discussion Starter · #20 ·
Ben - Your points are well taken. I myself cut a number of demos short due to some of the "music" being played, not only by attendees but also exhibitors! :( BTW, are you sure somebody wasn't there with Aperion speakers in 2002? Maybe the folks at Kimber's DiAural company? Well, they say the memory is the first thing to go!


djlackey5: I hope I didn't end up being unfairly critical. As I said, this system, for $2338, is an unbelievable value. Not to mention spouse-friendly, since the built-in subs eliminate the need for a stand-alone sub. They also look really good and more expensive than they are. And you're right, I have to check my notes, but I don't recall any other high-value systems that bested the Aperion. Besides, while it was nice to see Aperion at the Show, they offer the best way to insure satisfaction - an in-home trial! Judge for yourselves.
 
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