Welcome back to our multi-part in-depth coverage of The Home Entertainment Show 2022 once again thanks to our good friend Walter Liederman of Underwood HiFi, https://www.underwoodhifi.com/, the best place to find high-end audio at affordable prices, for his magnanimous support in sponsoring our show coverage. As T.H.E. Show caters to the Personal Audio community as well as the two-channel loudspeaker community, we will be running these reports on both Headphone.Guru and HiFiAudio.Guru simultaneously.
Having covered four Hi-Fi shows in three months it has been a challenge to keep up and get the full reports out in a timely manner, so while a bit delayed we continue with part 3 of my coverage.
I have been a fan of Gryphon since the ’80s when I first encountered them, their products were spectacular then and remain so to this day. My only complaint was they kept their room in total darkness which makes photography challenging. The amazing system they were demonstrating to a packed house was made up of a Bergmann Galder turntable ($26,800) with a Bergman Odin ($8,900) tonearm and Soundsmith Cartridge, an Innous Statement music server ($21,700), a Gryphon Ethos transport/DAC ($39,000) a Gryphon Pandora four chassis preamp ($39,000), a Gryphon Antileon EVO amplifier ($39,000), EOS2 loudspeakers ($20,000/pair), and a Shunyata Everest 8000 Power Conditioner.
Common Wave Hi-Fi
Common Wave Hi-Fi, a local L. A. dealer, had three rooms the first of which sported a semi-Pro Audio/Audiophile DJ set up with Varia Instruments RDM40 4 Channel Rotary Mixer ($3,800) fed by two vintage Technics 1210 mk2 Direct Drive Turntables ($995) running through a beautiful Audio Hungary Qualiton A50i Class A Tube Integrated Amplifier ($9,250) driving Ojas Artbook Shelf Speakers with Horn Mod ($5,500/pair), with a Merason Frerot DAC ($1,475) and Merason Pow1 Power Supply ($950) acting as digital source.
Their second room featured a Kuzma Stabi R Custom Finish Belt Drive Turntable ($10,900) with a 4Point 11 VTA Jeweled Bearing Tonearm ($9,240) and a Dynavector DRT XV-1s Phono Cartridge playing through a Nagra VPS Valve Phono Stage ($9,500) along with a Nagra Classic Tube DAC ($28,500) controlled by a Nagra Classic Preamp Vacuum Tube Preamp ($18,900) using a Nagra Classic PSU Three Output Power Supply ($16,500) outputting to a Nagra Classic Amp Stereo MOSFET Amplifier ($18,500), all supported by Nagra VFS Vibration Free Supports Classic Series ($2,295 each), driving QLN Signature SE Monitors ($23,995/pair) on QLN Signature Monitor Stands ($1,995). In addition, there was a 2TB Innuos Statement Music Server ($15,750).
In their third room, Common Wave Hi-Fi were showing a magnificent Michell Engineering Gyro SE Turntable with a Michell Engineering TechnoArm 2 ($5,498) and Michell Engineering Cusis E Phono Cartridge ($999), an Audio Hungary Qualiton C200 Tube Preamplifier ($5,200), an Audio Hungary Qualiton P200 Stereo Tube Amplifier ($5,500), an Innous Zenith Mk3 Streaming Server ($5,340), a Merason DAC1 ($6,000), and DeVore Fidelity O/Baby Speakers ($5,600) and stands ($995).
Black Ocean Audio
Local Seal Beach speaker manufacturer Black Ocean Audio was rather unpretentious about what electronics they used to demonstrate their handmade Le Chiffre ‘Studio’ ($4,500/pair) and Le Chiffre ‘Pro” ($6,000) loudspeakers opting for vintage Linn electronics as well as a ’70s era Yamaha CA-2010 integrated amplifier coupled with a Focusrite Scarlett 18i20 digital interface to drive them. They were also unafraid, or perhaps proud to show their speakers in a disassembled state, no secrets here, just craftmanship. Still, they were able to provide a musical presentation.
Another local speaker designer/manufacturer willing to use humble electronics, this time without even the cache of vintage was Tonian Labs. Tony Minasian’s primary focus appears to be the recording and distribution of unique ambient meditation CDs which he used to demonstrate his Oriaco G6 ($3,500/pair) and Oriaco G6 EM Edition ($6,300/pair) loudspeakers. While this made it a little hard to judge sound as I didn’t know the providence of the instruments used and their placement in the mix was unusual, the speakers appeared to be very natural and realistic in their presentation, definitely a designer to keep an eye on.
Sunny Components Inc.
Covina dealer Sunny Components Inc. had a couple of rooms on the fourth floor demonstrating CH Precision electronics with Stenheim and B&W speakers. The highlights were a lovely Brinkmann Audio Balance Turntable, the Stenheim Alumine Five Speakers ($60,000), a Neodio Origine S2 Ultimate CD Player /Converter ($24,900), the CH Precision M 1.1 Mono Amplifier ($108,000), the Bowers & Wilkins 802 D4 Speaker ($26,000), and an EMM Labs Meitner MA3 Integrated DAC ($9,500).
Jim Suhre takes a unique system approach to his speakers in that he sells them with specific components to wit; an Arcam CDS50 SACD/CD player, a Schitt Freya S preamp, a NAD 268, and a Dayton Audio DTA-100LF desktop subwoofer amplifier all for the price of $9,200 complete with speakers. This may sound like an odd combination, but as I have pointed out numerous times on HiFiAudio.Guru, it’s all about system matching (in fact that is the theme of the website), and there is no denying that he gets superb results.
Wavetouch Audio has a very unique approach to speaker design and in hindsight, I wish I had spent a little more time listening to their Wavetouch Audio Antero Loudspeakers ($9,500). At first look, they have the appearance of a simple home-built two-way speaker with an AMT tweeter (which have regained popularity in the last few years). I’ll admit I did not understand the purpose of the small diffusers at the core of each driver, which have all the appearance of speaker test microphones, this impression was further enhanced by their use of an Oppo Blue-ray player and Bakoon Products AMP-7511 Anniversary Model High Resolution Power Amplifier as source and the name Wavetouch Audio if I’m to be honest. I therefore mistakenly thought they were a sound treatment company. Their concept is that by using a small defuser at the core of the driver they can redirect the sound waves to avoid room reflection before arriving at the listener, thus greatly reducing room interaction. I’ll be sure to take greater notice next time our paths meet.
Once again the combination of Infigo Audio Method 4 DAC/Preamp ($35,000 USD) and Infigo Audio Method 3 Class A Mono Block Amplifiers ($50,000 USD/pair) with their glass tops and glowing lights along with the exquisite sensual shape of the Alta Audio Adam Loudspeaker ($17,000 USD/Pair) is a powerful draw, not to mention exceptional sound. As with previous shows, all cabling was Infigo Sparkle Series Cables.
VK Music specializes in importing DIY audio mostly of a tube bend. On display was a Sunvalley SV-Pre1616D Linestage ($900), a Sparkler Audio Model S503v “spiral” CD player ($1,585), a Sunvalley SV-S1616D 300B Amp with Hashimoto Transformers ($1,975), a Sunvalley SV-128BII KT170 Amp (TBA), an Elekit TU-8150DX Amplifier ($525), a Sunvalley SV-1628D Amp ($1,850), an Elekit TU-8550 Preamp, and a pair of 650mm BD2 AER full-range drivers ($2500/each), mounted on custom see-thru plexiglass open-baffles ($2,000/pair) with optional clear plexiglass horns ($1,800/each).
AGD Productions was in attendance with their eye-catching Class D amplifiers employing Gallium Nitride Transistors inside a “Vacuum Tube” (vacuum need not apply). One should note that these are not actually tube amps, nor do they actually sound like one, and although you can swap out the amp modules (GaNTube TM KT88 MKII, and GaNTubeTM 120KT) you wouldn’t want to put a tube in one. On display was their usual full lineup driving the excellent sounding Ocean Way Audio Eureka Loudspeakers ($12,000 USD/pair with stands) powered by AGD Gran Vivace monoblocks ($18,500 USD/pair) with the AGD Andante Preamp/DAC/streamer/Phono Stage ($12,500 USD) as source. Also, on display were a pair of AGD Audion monoblocks ($7,500 USD/pair).
Audio Federation is a wife and husband high-end audio dealership from Palo Alto in Northern California. They had a wonderful display (prices not published) featuring an Audio Note TT2 turntable with an Audio Note Arm 3//II, S4 stepup transformer and Audio Note IO1 phono cartridge, Audio Note AN/E Spe HE speakers and Audio Note Meishu Tonmeister Silver integrated, and an Audio Note CD4 CD player on an HRS SXR equipment rack.
Stay tuned for the conclusion of our coverage of T.H.E. Show 2022 thanks to Underwood HiFi, https://www.underwoodhifi.com/.