Best sound at AKFEST 2010 and other ramblings

Discussion in 'AK Fest 2010' started by kwingylee, May 5, 2010.

  1. kwingylee

    kwingylee Active Member

    Messages:
    265
    Location:
    Chicago, IL
    At the danger of offending the exhibitor's community and members who displayed their wares, I am posting my listening impressions from the fest, and list what I believe to be the sounds/systems from the show that impressed me the most from amongst the professionals and the hobbyists. My judgements are based on listening to music that I brought to the show as well as recordings from others that I am familiar with.

    I mainly focus on a system's ability to reproduce the human voice, dynamics and other qualities such as soundstaging, smoothness and performance at the frequency extremes.

    I find that in this year's AKFEST, the horn based systems were by far the best:

    Classic Audio Reproductions - John Wolfe's monster speakers sounded much better this year than last. Maybe is the room, maybe is the Beryllium diaphrams in his horns, maybe is the field coil drivers, maybe is the Atmasphere amps but I had a really difficult time prying myself away from his room. Wish I had the space and the dough.

    AK Member Cosmos and Kegger - big big improvement from 2009. Cosmos Tractrix wood horns and JBL 2445 with Beryllium diaphrams impressed me with their smoothness and dynamics. This system with its 15" bass bottom, biamped with Kegger electronics amps and preamps, is a system to be reckon with. This room was consistently crowded and for good reason. Amazing sound at a price that is reachable.

    AKMember DWOJO and PUNKERX - I am never disappointed with Dave's Altec 604 rig. These old drivers still have that Altec "magic". Amazing sound with a mere 20 tube watts. PUNKERX's portable FM transmitter and battery of tuners (including the $180 el cheapo SONY) provides a source that rivals CDs and SACDs. Pure class.

    David Michael Audio's demo of the Harbeth 40.1 and Luxman amps did a superb job on my CDs. I am bias of course since I used to own multiple Harbeth speakers. Yes, I am keeping my Harbeths, but maybe its time to upgrade my ALtec and Klipchorns.

    Other comments:

    AKMember SQUIDWARD - y'know, I can count on the Squid for real innovative thinking. I thought the Cornwalls were better last year. But the bass from this year's bass bottoms wowed me, and that crazy 5 driver horn/combiner - what is that all about!!?

    Jim SALK's reference system imaged like crazy and looked great to boot. Very high WAF here.

    AUDIO Dimensions? - had the coolest looking speakers (white) with a WAF that is out of the ball park. Unfortunately the great looks of the speakers were more than offset by the gigantic CAT multi-tube amplifier. The system sounded very good.

    As usual the JOLIDA room looked and sounded good and the small MBL produced an incredible sound stage. The triangular $199/pair NOLA speakers worked well in the room. Love the reel-reel deck. Could use speakers that were more full range next time.

    I attended with a buddy from Chicago and had a great time. We also made a major score on some vintage ALTECs. Very productive trip.

    Next year, maybe we can get the Klipsch folks to participate?
     
  2. ScofieldKjv

    ScofieldKjv New Member

    Messages:
    26
    Thanks for sharing; I didn't get to near as many rooms as I would have liked. David Michael's room was the first I made it to and I greatly liked it as well; I tried to get back to it before I left to see if I felt the same later, but the room was full and David had the little Harbeth's hooked up.

    For me, I was most impressed with Nate's Audio room, I was simply amazed at the sound, I just kept wanting to listen, not to mention the cost of the speakers.

    Once again I don't get Audio Note. Every year I say, "I know they can be better, something isn't right". Well this year they had a more expensive setup than last and it performed no where near its cost.
     
  3. kwingylee

    kwingylee Active Member

    Messages:
    265
    Location:
    Chicago, IL
    I hit everyroom.But I don't remember Nate's audio. What did they have?
    I agree that some systems did not produce sound quality that commensurated at anywhere near their costs.
    I was not that impressed with the audionote stuff (again), despite the positive press by Art Dudley of S'phile fame. To each his own I guess.
     
  4. Billfort

    Billfort Addicted Member

    Messages:
    8,490
    Location:
    Newmarket, ON, Canada
    I didn’t get to spend time in all the rooms and admittedly have a strong leaning towards high-efficiency speakers and tubes but my ‘best’ list essentially mirrors yours kwingylee for the top 3 with Retro Stereo’s Tyler Accoustics D4s/GF RITA tube integrated/Marantz SA-11 SACD system in there too.

    I’d have a tough time putting those 4 in order as it kept changing for me but at 2:30am Saturday playing the Clash’s London Calling, Kegger/Cosmo’s was as good as it gets. :)
     
  5. ScofieldKjv

    ScofieldKjv New Member

    Messages:
    26
    Nate is a speaker maker and he had two sets, a little stand-mount and a MTM design with a transmission line; he used Van Alistine (sp?) electronics.
     
  6. Dr Tinear

    Dr Tinear AK Subscriber Subscriber

    Messages:
    5,095
    Location:
    Livonia, Michigan
    I also thought that the David Michael room had some of the best sound at the show. The little Harbeths were flat amazing. (I'd heard the big Harbeth Monitor 40.1s before at David's store in Royal Oak, and they are even better than the small ones, but the baby Harbeths sound so much bigger and better than one would expect from such tiny stand-mounted speakers.)

    Nate's Audio gets my vote in the bang-for-the-buck category. His stand-mounted T5 plays way above its $895 per pair price point, and his new floor-standing speakers also impressed me.

    I also liked the $1500 /pair Dali mini-monitors in the Superior Sight and Sound room, though I'm not sure that they sounded any better than Nate's T5s. The Focal speakers in the Big George's room also did a lot of things right.
     
  7. krikor

    krikor Active Member

    Messages:
    103
    Location:
    Pleasant Rigde, MI
    I think you mean the Kyomi room. Audio Dimensions had the Magnepan 1.7 with Audio Research electronics across the hall.

    [​IMG]
     
  8. kwingylee

    kwingylee Active Member

    Messages:
    265
    Location:
    Chicago, IL
    Thanks for the correction. These are them!!!
    The CAT amplifier is as ugly as I remembered. Kyomi would do much better (looks wise) by putting clean SS monoblocks behind the speakers.
     
  9. similost

    similost Rockin and Rollin....

    Messages:
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    Location:
    West By God Virginnie
    I was really diggin that CAT amp. I'd love to have that, but sure would hate to feed it tubes..

    As far as venders went, I would have to say the Tyler speakers were my favorite sounding speakers. Both in the Tyler room, and hearing them in Retro's room reinforced that thought.

    Down to members rooms, man is it a tossup.. a tough one at that... I can say that Ray's Big Bob speakers were by far my wife's favorites. They were pretty spectacular sounding.

    My favorites were between Cosmos' speakers, and Dave Newman's.... I think I'm going to have to put Newman at the top though once he got his Unities working. The unities were just so clean sounding, and had a tone that I've never heard from any other horn.
     
  10. krikor

    krikor Active Member

    Messages:
    103
    Location:
    Pleasant Rigde, MI
    Somehow I missed taking a good listen to the Big Bob speakers. A lot of people seemed to like these... any details available? Never got to hear Newman's unities either (I think they were down on Sunday, unless I'm thinking of something else).

    I agree that Cosmos' speakers with Kegger's amps were outstanding, one of my favorites of the show.
     
  11. RayW

    RayW Parrothead with a badge Super Mod Subscriber

    Messages:
    18,385
    Location:
    Shawnee Nat'l Forest of IL
    I've got lots of details. Which ones do you want? :D

    I got about an hour and a half to see the show so I did a lot of poking my head into a room and if it didn't grab me immediately I headed for the next one. Some of my favorites are as follows:

    The little Dali speakers in the Rega room were great. I'm a big fan of overachieving small speakers.

    I thought Grant's room sounded pretty good but it was pretty crowded with people and gear so I never got a good sit-down listen.

    Nate's Audio was fun. I liked the sound a lot but the laid back atmosphere of the room made all the difference in the world.

    Tyler's sounded good, although I'm still frustrated that Ty won't give me a job. :)

    Newman/Squid's room sounded great once they got things dialed in. It was frustrating at first trying to figure out what was going on with the XO. Once the Behringer got into the mix and things settled out they sounded nice.

    I never got within 5 or 6 feet of Kegger/Cosmos room without my ears bleeding from the volume. From the hall they sounded good. At 4am they sounded a bit obnoxious as I was trying to sleep. ;)

    I enjoyed (non) Retro Stereo's room. I got to listen to some great sounding tunes and chat with my buddy Bill for a while.

    I think my favorite sound was in the Bamberg/Mod Wright room.

    Ray
     
  12. krikor

    krikor Active Member

    Messages:
    103
    Location:
    Pleasant Rigde, MI
    Oh not too much... how about driver model numbers, crossover schematic, box size, construction specifics and a a bill of materials with supplier sources.:thmbsp:

    Seriously though... I'm curious more than anything as I missed them completely and just wondering what the overall approach was... 2-way, 3-way, ported, high-eff, low-eff, silk, metal, ribbon, etc.? Judging by the pictures they look to be a fairly large low-stand mounted speaker (if I'm looking at the correct picture).
     
  13. RayW

    RayW Parrothead with a badge Super Mod Subscriber

    Messages:
    18,385
    Location:
    Shawnee Nat'l Forest of IL
    The original design goal (started by Ozmoid last year) was a new speaker with a vintage look in a 3-way. The woofer is a Dayton RS270, 10" aluminum cone. The mid is a Dayton RS52, 2" aluminum dome. The tweeter is Hiquphon OW1, .75" soft dome. They're ported with dual 2.5" as the Dayton 10 likes lot of breathing room. The efficiency was governed by the woofer as it was the first driver I picked and went with the other 2 in part because they matched it closely in efficiency. They're in the neighborhood of 89-90dB@1W.

    The crossovers are at 500 and 5kHz, more or less. That keeps vocals on the midrange driver without a crossover in the middle.

    The "low-stand mounted" part is because my living room is half sunken and these are on the high part with my comfy chair on the low part. I should have built new stands about 6 or 8" higher for the show but the home version worked out ok.

    I'll keep the specific crossover schematic in the secret vault for now. :D
     
  14. similost

    similost Rockin and Rollin....

    Messages:
    37,472
    Location:
    West By God Virginnie
    Thank you Ray.. now all I need is a schematic..

    I wonder how many bills will open that vault :scratch2:
     
  15. Urizen

    Urizen Lunatic Member

    Messages:
    24,639
    Let's see. Three? cableguy, Billfort and AlleyKat would be a good start. :)
     
  16. similost

    similost Rockin and Rollin....

    Messages:
    37,472
    Location:
    West By God Virginnie
    LOL.. yeah.. I'll just send in the muscle..
     
  17. KeninDC

    KeninDC Speedfreak Jive Subscriber

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    Dan Wright, correct?
     
  18. TerryO

    TerryO Super Member

    Messages:
    4,156
    Location:
    Seattle, Washington
    That's correct, he lives in the southwestern part of Washington State, not too far from Vancouver. Kevin Haskins shared a demo room with Dan and George Cardas' daughters at the last VSAC. They're all very nice people and it was a lot of fun.
    :thmbsp:

    Best Regards,
    TerryO
     
  19. TerryO

    TerryO Super Member

    Messages:
    4,156
    Location:
    Seattle, Washington
    This is some neat stuff, although I wish there were more pictures of the DIY efforts as that's what really winds my watch.
    :banana:

    Best Regards,
    TerryO
     
  20. rage

    rage Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    829
    Location:
    Michigan
    Cosmo's build and DGWojo's setup impressed me the most. I'm partial to horns though.

    Marks PSBs also kick ass but I am biased as he is a friend!

    Vendor room wise I liked those sperm drop monsters (Kyomi room). All I heard on them was Miles Davis, and really that's all I needed to hear.

    Enjoyed the SMAC room and spent a good amount of time in there. Liked the PI 3 speakers. First time I've had the pleasure of hearing them and they did not disappoint.
     
    Last edited: May 5, 2010

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