That’s how I’d describe the third installment of T.H.E. Show Newport Beach. Attendance was ample if not overwhelming and as if cued by the nearby Pacific ocean attendees tended to arrive in waves moving between the Hilton and Atrium Hotels. However it was a mellower energy, perhaps a jet-lag hangover from Munich just a couple weeks earlier? My beat was electronics and although the show featured few genuine premieres or surprises here’s my snapshot of highlights.
Right out of the box was a strong contender for Best Of Show. (See Above Pic) Featured in the room of local dealer Optimal Enchantment was, surprise, all Audio Research electronics. They included the newly minted ARC Ref 10 preamp ($30k) and Ref Phono 10 twin-chassis phono stage, both outfitted with large and highly configurable touch screen controls ($30k). The analog playback source was Basis Audio’s Work of Art turntable with its companion Superarm 9 tonearm and Lyra Atlas cartridge–a statement product if ever there was one. Driving the Vandersteen 7s were ARC Ref 250 mono’s linked with AudioQuest cabling. Even a well worn treasure like Dave Brubeck’s “Time Out” seemed anew through this easy going, yet seamless and superbly resolved system. I kept sticking my head into this room throughout the show.
In a return engagement to American shores are former Plinius designers Gary Morrison and Ross Stevens with a new all-Kiwi line called Pure Audio, distributed by Colleen Cardas Audio. These mates have been at this new venture since 2008 and are now poised to have another go at the US market. The line currently features the Vinyl Phono Pre at $4500, the Control preamp at $9500, and 65Wpc pure Class A Reference monoblocks are$15.500/pr. To come are an integrated and stereo amplifiers. The stunning industrial design combines strapping aluminum accents with a stainless steel mesh chassis. Only the phono stage was represented at Newport but with their track record, Pure Audio should be something to watch in the next few months.
Newport was the West Coast premiere of the Audience Wavepower monoblock amplifier. Audience, known for its cabling and more recently one-way loudspeakers, this small footprint powerhouse is based on N-core technology by Hypex and outputs a weighty 400W into 8 ohms and up to 1200W into 2 ohms. Boasting a high efficiency of 93% at full power it incorporates built-in Audience power conditioner technology. ($18k including Au24 SE power cords) and linked with (what else?) Audience Au24 cables. It was hard to gauge the full potential of the amps given the pristine but limited bass output from the diminutive Audience 1+1 loudspeaker but my guess is that there is a lot of potential here.
Audience Wavepower amps