I spent yesterday at THE Show in Orange County.
(I had to work on Friday and had a rehearsal on
Saturday so I ended up with only one day. But I got
through a lot).
I carried around an excelent recording I know well(Eargle's recording of Dvorak's New World), which I have listened to on quite a few
carefully corrected systems. I have a good idea of what this ought
to sound like.
Good stuff(for accuracy and hence for music)
Gradient Revolution with extra bass towers: Small room but excellent truth to tonal character, solid precise bass, correct sense of space, good all around. Sounded a lot like an orchestra, to the extent that that can be done in a small room
Harbeth Compact 7: Really restricted room size for a free space mounting speaker, but it too sounded a lot like an orchestra(as it should) albeit in small scale
Sony AR1: Huge room, speakers wide apart, room filling without strain. As noted in my review, a little character tonally(slightly midrange oriented, presence dropped a bit, top back up), but only slight effect in this context, large spectacular sound. Excellent for "suspension of disbelief". Close your eyes and you could imagine
a concert experience, very nearly. (Not completely of course--one
needs surround!) This was really kind of gorgeous. I was going to listen for just a few moments since I had limited time and knew the speakers well, obviously. I ended up listening to the whole last movement.
I did not get to hear the big TADs with my own material, but I did
get a positive general impression from what I heard of their material.
Sanders was not playing requests(they had only a computer hookup) but they played me Sarasate's Zigeunerweisen (unknown recording--it was labeled as "violin concerto"
on some computer compendium, which of course it is not!). This sounded
violin like. Clean uncluttered quite neutral sound to judge from a restricted impression. there is bass--I heard the opening of the PandF in c minor(original organ version).
I heard the Martin Logan Summits. Set up was not ideal I thought--
not enough space to the back wall. As exhibited, they sounded somewhat plastic to my ears. I liked the Sanders better. But this is a show! Impressions not necessarily to be taken as too serious.
The little Martin Logans at $2000 per pair seemed like a
very interesting option at the price point, though they are up against
tough competition in the form of the PSB items. (Not shown).
YG Acoustics Klipod sounded admirably flat(the measurements are apparently for real) but not utterly coherent at the range the show allowed(it is a LONG way from the mid driver to the bass, which is by the floor).
Magico/Spectral had terrible bass problems, the bass burbling like a race car at idle. Room difficulties one hopes and supposes. The mids sounded good, top end up a few dB (as measured in TAS!). Impressive but not really good as presented. But again, it is a show.
That was about it for things I thought sounded either good or
at least promising.
It was interesting and to me disconcerting that NO ONE at the show
had any kind of digital or even analogue EQ going or at least no one I saw(except Simplifi, who had a static presentation of the DSPeaker Antimode device). It was as if by far the most interesting thing that has gone on and is going on in audio in the last ten years and more had never happened. As a result, practically all the exhibits had gross errors in the room-affected range(and to some extent elsewhere).
The Magico/Spectral exhibit's bass for example was really embarrassing. I know it was the fault of the room in some sense--or at least I am willing to suppose it was. But speakers are used in rooms! The overall effect of this and many other exhibits was simply disaster in the room affected region.
In short, it was the usual show sort of thing. I had a good time socially and occasionally musically(the Gradient system was really enjoyable for example). But overall, one can see that audio is crying out for EQ--but not getting it , not at shows. As always it was surprising how different the same recording sounded on different systems. High fidelity reproduction, anyone?
PS There was an exhibit with $120,000 "worth" of cables. I skipped that one.
PPS Gradient'Simplifi , whose exhibit was one of the very best,
making most of the rest sound foolish, was using a $500 amplifier.
Of course, no one noticed from listening. No one ever does.