• California Audio Show July 15, 16, 17

    Most computer audiophiles living in the San Francisco area are well aware the California Audio Showlink takes place July 15, 16, 17. If this is news to you I highly recommend looking into the show and attending if time permits. The Bay Area has the largest population of Computer Audiophile readers in the world. I'd enjoy meeting up with any readers going to the show. During the show I'm going to co-moderate the DSD panel presentation with Cookie Marenco of Blue Coast Recordslink. I'll try to squeeze as many computer audio related DSD questions in as possible. CA readers at the show will definitely want to stop by the Marutani Consultinglink suite in Plaza 1 Ballroom. Sharing the space will be Blue Coast Records. Tim has assembled a great group of industry leaders to speak in the suite as well as an incredible playback system. The system is capable of playing any relevant format such as vinyl via Continuum turntable, tape via ATR102.5 tape machine, 1x 2x and 4x high resolution PCM, DXD, and DSD. Some of the files played in the suite are direct to DSD masters. The components assembled to playback this material range from Pyramix and Sonoma digital audio workstations to Constellation Audio amplifiers and Magico Q5 loudspeakers. All of this sounds good on paper or on screen, but may mean nothing without proper installation, setup, and the ability to work with the Plaza 1 Ballroom's acoustics. I'm excited to see Tim's suite, many other exhibits, and the CA readers at the show.




     
    Comments 31 Comments
    1. cookiemarenco's Avatar
      cookiemarenco -
      Hi Nick, sounds like you came to our room last year. Thanks! I was finding out about the Sony Playstation at the CAS 2010 event last year myself. Gus Skinas demoed the unit during the setup of our room. For $300, it sounded very, very good and a minimal risk investment from the consumer. There were very few devices able to play DSD files (not SACD)at that time. <br />
      <br />
      The 'best' sound I reserve to our Sonoma System with EMM Labs converters. With a popular device like the Playstation available to so many, we decided to release DSD audio that same CAS 2010 weekend. The response was tremendously favorable.<br />
      <br />
      After that, there was a snowball of activity. Korg contacted us asking what they could do to help. We requested making AudioGate free and by Oct 2010, that was a reality. In December 2010 we began releasing free DSD audio for downloads monthly.<br />
      <br />
      Andreas Koch, Playback Designs (and one of the engineers for Sony working on DSD) to say they would have a DSD DAC by June.. and by golly, they've got a great one! Others followed. <br />
      <br />
      The announcement of the DSD Panel at CAS has created the sense of a "Summit" for discussion all weekend. During setup yesterday, we had a rare chance to discuss issues with international experts and manufacturers. It is very encouraging for DSD and amazing what has happened in a year. <br />
      <br />
      As it was pointed out by Andreas tonight, we are in a PCM world. DSD is a new ecosystem where core computer system operations are being challenged. DSD playback is as different as moving from vinyl to CD. To fully experience DSD means recording the source files natively on analog tape or DSD multitrack, which few engineers have done.<br />
      <br />
      I'm very grateful to Chris for participating as a moderator to help represent the music loving consumer and their questions. I've created a thread on computeraudiophile to address any questions for the panelists this weekend.<br />
      http://www.computeraudiophile.com/content/DSD-Discussion-Do-you-have-questions-our-Panel-CAS<br />
      <br />
      On a side note....<br />
      I completely agree that if the music doesn't move you, the format makes little difference. Blue Coast Records was created to fill a very small niche of music that I personally enjoy called, "getting artists to perform live, no headphones, no overdubs." <br />
      <br />
      It creates a small chamber acoustic sound and a performance that imitates the casualness of overhearing the music while the musician rehearses... and often performs their best.<br />
      <br />
      Our platform allows us to deliver files directly from the studio to listener. Since the debut, we have been contacted by more than 150 artists and small labels wanting to release their music. We created Artist Connex to fill the need. It's open to all genres of music.<br />
      www.ArtistConnex.com<br />
      <br />
      Artist Connex is still in beta. Click the arrows then click on a release cover to preview the music.<br />
      <br />
      Looking forward to the weekend and hearing Tim Marutani's system, Playback Designs and the Sony AR1's! <br />
      <br />
      Enjoy the music!<br />
      Cookie Marenco<br />
      bluecoastworld.com/events
    1. Brian A's Avatar
      Brian A -
      Chris: you’re the guy in the white shirt with no hair right? I’ll be the tall skinny guy wearing blue jeans. Should be easy to spot each other. ;-) Hope to shake your hand and say 'hello'. I also hope all goes well for you at the show.
    1. The Computer Audiophile's Avatar
      The Computer Audiophile -
      That's me :~)<br />
      <br />
      I just got up to my room. I was downstairs listening to some great stuff as manufacturers and dealers put the finishing touches on their rooms. Should be a good show.<br />
      <br />
    1. Russell_L's Avatar
      Russell_L -
      Thanks, Chris--I hope to see you there!<br />
      <br />
      Russell
    1. Brian A's Avatar
      Brian A -
      Their website says BYO music. Do you have a suggestion what media is best? (CD? thumbdrive? iPod?) What kind of music is "socially acceptable" to bring? (I am sure no one is going to want to listen to Peg Leg Sam.) I guessing "flashy" stuff is best.
    1. Bob Stern's Avatar
      Bob Stern -
      If bringing demo tracks on a thumb drive, which of these formats is likely to be readable by most systems at the show?
    1. The Computer Audiophile's Avatar
      The Computer Audiophile -
      WAV first, AIFF second, FLAC third
    1. The Computer Audiophile's Avatar
      The Computer Audiophile -
      Hey Guys - If you're coming to the show Sunday you must check out WideaLab's Aurender music server in room 413. Best product of the show. Hands down.<br />
      <br />
      http://www.aurender.com/<br />
      <br />
    1. NickG's Avatar
      NickG -
      Chris, for those of us who can't get there, can you describe which of their products you saw being used, and what associated equipment it was being used with (at least the DAC and the speakers)?<br />
      <br />
      Many thanks...
    1. Brian A's Avatar
      Brian A -
      I'm going to try to hit room 413 immediately after that 9:00 AM forum. Chris: Are you particating in the 1:00 PM Blue Coast World panel discussion?
    1. The Computer Audiophile's Avatar
      The Computer Audiophile -
      Hi Guys - I'll have a lot more to say about the WideaLab server in a show report coming up. <br />
      <br />
      I certainly will be moderating the DSD panel Sunday at 1:00PM.<br />
      <br />
    1. NickG's Avatar
      NickG -
      If anyone who happens to know what the other equipment in room 413 is, it would be great if you could list it. Looking forward to Chris's show report, too!
    1. blessingx's Avatar
      blessingx -
      Surprised at the difference from 'headphone' meets (mostly in logistics, branding). Rooms overall small, so sweet spots tend to be also (thus difficult to hear best), but highlights on either end were a Napa Acoustic/Mistral $600 NA-208A amp/NA-208S speaker mini system and the 'big sound' Sony SS-AR1s (powered by Pass Labs mono-blocks). Best overall sound of the show was previously mentioned Marutani Consulting Magico/Constellation setup. I actually almost automatically started clapping at the end of a song like there was a band on stage. Also a little insight into Blue Coast recording techniques and DSD. Suspect Reference Recordings presentations would have been interesting also, but missed those.
    1. Bob Stern's Avatar
      Bob Stern -
      I also was impressed by the $200 Napa Acoustics NA-208S loudspeaker (which is the same as the Mistral DT-308S):<br />
      http://www.mistralaudio.com/2_series.html<br />
      <br />
      However, it is disturbing that Mistral, headquartered in China, makes a Saggita range of speakers that are knock-offs of the B&W 800 series:<br />
      <br />
      http://www.mistralaudio.com/Saggita.html<br />
      <br />
      http://avforum.no/forum/attachments/hoyttalere/63180d1268812947-b-w-copycat-sag500.jpg<br />
      <br />
      http://www.soundaudio.com.au/mistral_sa_350_speakers
    1. NickG's Avatar
      NickG -
      I had a very different reaction to hearing the Magico rooms yesterday. While I found the separation of the instruments (or I think I should really be saying the sounds), I was distracted by the impression that the sound was enclosed in a two dimensional space in the room. It felt like I could hear the 'boxiness' of the speaker. I didn't have that impression from the two-way Magicos I heard on stands. They sounded quite good, but they didn't make me feel like I wanted them. <br />
      <br />
      I found the active ATCs much more to my liking. Each time I had the sense the instruments sounded much closer to being real, and this was in a much smaller room than the Q3. The ATCs also had a way of disappearing that I enjoyed. I would give them best sound of show, but didn't hear all the rooms. It occurrs to me this room may have sounded so good because it wasn't near other rooms or the lobby with a lot of exterior noise. The instruments sounded good outside the door, standing in the back and in the sweet spot.<br />
      <br />
      The speaker that surprised me the most, and I almost missed because it was tucked away behind another room, was the Gallo 3.5. The speakers completely disappear and give the sense that there is a very believeable audiotory scene happening before you with very realistic tone of the instruments. Just great sound for the price. Highly recommended if someone is looking for realistic sound and doesn't want huge speakers in the room. They did make me feel like I wanted them.<br />
      <br />
      Another speaker I found disappointing were the very high end Wilsons. They were about 20 feet apart, so the soundstage had no sense of realism whatsoever. The left channel played all around the speaker and then the right channel played all around the speaker with a big gap in the middle. It did not leave any sort of impression of a believeable auditory scene for me.<br />
      <br />
      The Legacy room sounded good also, but I did not get to hear the Whispers. I can say, I probably wouldn't want to look at them everyday if I did own them.<br />
      <br />
      Neko Audio had an interesting DAC, but I have no idea how one deconstructs a room to know what has the most influence on the sound, other than the speakers and the room itself. The room, with the DAC in the chain had a very pleasing sound that reminded me of tube gear. I'd be curious to know if Chris saw this DAC.<br />
      <br />
      I thought I would love the MBL room, but the speakers were playing so loud, I couldn't imagine what they would sound like at normal listening levels. I left disappointed. Since I love dipoles, I thought omnis would be interesting. I think the equipment added up to well over $50k, so that room seemed a waste.<br />
      <br />
      <br />
      <br />
    1. Bob Stern's Avatar
      Bob Stern -
      Based only on auditions using music completely different from the classical music I normally listen to, I was impressed by the $15K 3-way Vivid, the $9K Legacy, and the $6K 2-way Sonist.<br />
      <br />
      Sonist's website shows a $4K model that appears to use the same drivers, but only one ribbon instead of two. If that's true, it may be a better value.<br />
      <br />
      I did get to play my own music on the 2-way Vivid in the MSB room, and that smaller speaker was congested on orchestral music.<br />
      <br />
      I did not care for the $27K active ATC. It under-emphasized the lower midrange and over-emphasized the treble so that music lacked richness and body. However, the treble was always smooth, never harsh.
    1. Brian A's Avatar
      Brian A -
      This was the first audio show I’d ever attended, so my observations will be much more basic than the others:<br />
      <br />
      1.)It was really fun. Some rooms you listened to music; others you just talked technical stuff. I attended all three technical workshops/discussions. A good day.<br />
      <br />
      2.)I wish I hadn’t gone. I thought my system sounded pretty good. Now I know the potential out there. On the other hand, there were a few high-end systems that I didn’t like as much as mine.<br />
      <br />
      3.)The folks in Room 413 were so patient and excited and interested in customer feedback. It was fun talking to them.<br />
      <br />
      4.)The Sony system was awesome. And they were serving free coffee. <br />
      <br />
      5.)Chris has a lot more hair than it appears from his avatar.<br />
      <br />
      6.)Lots of music was being played way too loud. Many rooms I just boycotted.<br />
      <br />
      7.)I played Peg Leg Sam two times today. He sounded good.<br />
      <br />
      8.)The interconnects, power cords and speaker wires I saw mind boggling; some were 3 inches in diameter. <br />
      <br />
      9.)The last room I entered was playing a vinyl LP. I hadn’t listened to a vinyl record in years. HOLY HECK! It sounded very, very, very good. (I think it is safe to say the system was “high end”; Acapella High Violoncello II speakers ($80,000); Aelius push pull mono amps ($36,000 each), Bergman Magne Turntable ($12,000) etc. ... even the speaker wires were $13,000 (Mantikor))<br />
    1. PorkChop's Avatar
      PorkChop -
      That little Napa Acoustics setup with the speakers Bob mentioned paired with their hybrid amp for $600 made for a nifty little room system. They are having a warehouse sale in Fremont next weekend -- I am definitely going to pick up something for my home office. <br />
      <br />
      In the Amarra room, I really enjoyed some of the hi res they played through those Focals paired with sub cut-over just where the bass rolls off on the speakers. That was the sound I love: super mid-to-upper midrange clarity with great separation across all instruments.
    1. HiFiGuy528's Avatar
      HiFiGuy528 -
      Did you guys see the new Amarra Mini UI? Looks more modern than the current version. Can't wait to get my hands on it.
    1. The Computer Audiophile's Avatar
      The Computer Audiophile -
      Very nice looking.<br />
      <br />