Welcome back to HiFiAudio.guru’s continuing coverage of the Florida Audio Expo 2022. We would like to thank Walter Liederman at Underwoood HiFi for sponsoring HiFiAudio.Guru’s coverage of Florida Audio Expo 2022, without the help of our fabulous sponsors we would not be able to bring you these wonderful experiences.
After covering the top 3 floors on Day One, we’re on to the 9th floor to start today’s coverage. The first room I visited was put on by Audiophile Distributor High End By Oz. They were featuring Electronics and speakers by Thrax. Their Yatrus Turntable ($15,500) was feeding the Dionysos Silver Tube Preamp ($20,000) and Teres Mono Blocs ($30,000) driving monitor speakers resting on matching side-firing subwoofer modules. The soundstage was amazing. The walls of the tiny room seemed to disappear and the height of the image was remarkable from speakers this size.
Next stop on 9 was the RME room. These guys are HUGE in the Pro-Audio world but are just making inroads into the consumer market. I hope that continues. They offer very good and clean-sounding digital audio (DtoA and AtoD) as well as headphone amplification that is both high quality and affordable. Their digital conversions are using a femtosecond accurate clock and the sound achieved is nothing short of fantastic. Their ADI-2 Pro ($1,999) is both ADC and DAC and can be used to digitize analog sources and as the heart of a mixing music-creation setup as well as a digital to analog converter for listening to your recordings. All of them…up to DSD768. It features a quality headphone amplifier as well as single-ended and balanced line outs. The ADI-2DAC ($1,299) offers the same DAC capabilities as well as the headphone amp, but eschews the ADC capabilities at a savings of $700.
On the 8th floor, headphone amplifier manufacturer, Justin Wilson of HeadAmp was showcasing his outstanding line of headphone amps with a bevy of different headphone offerings that he resells. Notable was the newest high-end offering from Stax, the SR-X9000 ($6,200) which sounded sublime when powered by the HeadAmp Blue Hawaii Special Edition. On the non-E-Stat side, I really enjoyed my time with the Meze Empyrean headphones from the HeadAmp GSX-Mini amplifier. Both were systems I could live with for a long time.
Another headphone company on this floor was Geshelli Labs. Gino and his family make an incredible value series of DACs and Headphone Amps. Starting under $300 for the aluminum casing version and staying under $400 for a variety of exotic wood cases, the J2 DAC, which uses the Sabre ES9026PRO DAC chip, and the E2 (Balanced) and A2.5 (SE) amplifiers sound exceptional. The fact that you can get them in such a cool series of cases makes them that much more fun!
Back into the 2-channel world, the next room was put on by the Infigo Audio folks. Their Method 4 DAC/Preamp ($35,000) was being fed by a Resonessence Labs Fluvius streamer. These were outputting to the beautiful Infigo Method 3 mono blocs ($50,000pair). All that was driving Audio Kinesis Gina speakers. This was one of my favorite rooms at the show.
Another favorite room at the show was the Krell/Gershman/exaSound room. The exaSound s82 DSD512 streaming DAC sourced the Krell Illusion preamp ($19,000) fed the Duo 300XD stereo Amp ($12,000) which, in turn, drove the Gershman Grand Avant Garde Speakers ($16,000). Eli and Orfa Gershman were on hand showing off the look (that BLUE!!) and sound of the very impressive system. The blue of the speakers was matched only by the blue of the awesome Cardas cables used throughout from power through to the speakers.
https://www.krellhifi.com https://www.gershmanacoustics.com https://www.exasound.com http://www.cardas.com
Moving back into the world of headphones, the next room was occupied by relative newcomer, Spirit Torino headphones. Playing a binaural recording through their Valkyria headphones ($11,000) was literally the most out-of-head experience I’ve ever had with headphones. I actually took the headphones off to make sure there wasn’t a speaking playing in the room. To say I was impressed was an understatement. If $11,000 if too much (and lots will say it is), they have trickle-down tech in their less expensive phones as well…but the Valkyria are something special.
In a show of uber-mega-priced gear, the room put on by Sumiko, Pro-Ject, Rotel and Sonus Faber was a welcome venture into the more reasonably priced realm. While I know $20,000 is still a lot of money, in many rooms that barely covers the cables. In this room, that $20,000 gets you a complete, very musically satisfying system…including the excellent cables from Cardas. The rest of the system consisted of the Pro-Ject Debut Pro turntable, sporting a Sumiko MM cartridge, the Rotel Michi X3 Integrated Amp driving Sonus Faber Electa Amator III speakers…all connected with the aforementioned Cardas Clear cables. Total system price was south of $20,000…south enough to get yourself a nice rack to put it all on! Pro-ject was also showcasing their new A-1 turntable. This is Pro-Ject’s first fully automatic table and comes in at $499 including built-in phono stage and Ortofon OM-10 cartridge.
https://www.sonusfaber.com/en/ http://sumikoaudio.net https://pro-jectusa.com https://www.rotel.com
Lastly for today were the two rooms sponsored by Florida Retailer House of Stereo. The first room featured electronics by EMM Labs and speakers by Credo. The Credo Reference One Speakers were playing when I was there and there is no mistaking the quality of sound. If you get a chance to hear them, do NOT pass it up. Sources were the new VPI Avenger Direct Drive turntable with a Van Den Hul phono stage and a Wolf Audio server feeding a Meitner DAC
The 2nd room featured TAD speakers driven by T+A electronics. Another VPI Avenger Direct and Wolf Server were the sources. Both rooms were cabled and power cleansed by Synergistics Research. House of Stereo owner, Joe Parvey, asked my which room I preferred, and I told him I loved the refined nature of the first room AND the liquid punchy nature of the second. If only I had space and the budget for both!
Once again, we would like to thank Walter Liederman at Underwoood HiFi for sponsoring Headphone.Guru’s coverage of Florida Audio Expo 2022, if you enjoyed this or just want great HiFi and a great price, I suggest you visit Walter’s Webstore. Stay tuned for part 3.