THE Show Newport Report 2015
Hi Everyone! I am finally recovering from THE Show in Newport and the long drive home to Texas, so I thought I would put together a report, so that those who could not attend will have an idea of what we did and how things went.
Profundo had two rooms this year, each ably manned by our dealers from Northern and Southern California.
In the first room, with the immense help of Alan and Jordan Fong of Syncopation of Stockton CA, we had two complete active systems running and alternated between them. One system had a Funk Firm LSD turntable with the wonderful Transfiguration Phoenix into a Heed Audio Thesis Pi/Phi phonostage combo as an analog source and the Heed Audio DT/DA combination supplying the digital. Providing the spectacular amplification was the Viva Audio Solista integrated driving the small but mighty Trenner & Friedl Art standmount loudspeakers. This combination was pure musical bliss: dynamic, natural, harmonically rich and dead-on accurate. Anyone that might have doubted this had only to stay in the room a bit and wait for Anne Bisson to arrive. Anne is a delightful and talented singer/songwriter from Montreal, introduced to us by Gary Koh of Genesis Advanced Technologies, who dropped by a number of times, providing the lucky folks in the room with impromptu performances, where she would sing a duet with herself, from her Blue Mind album playing on this system. With eyes shut, it became difficult to identify Anne from her (superb) recorded self. As the system settled in, and when the electricity was at its cleanest, the veils cleared away and there really seemed to be two live Anne’s in the room. Everyone listening commented on how incredibly accurate/good the system had to sound to dare such a feat.
The next system in the room, on the adjacent long wall, were the giant-killer Heed Enigma loudspeakers, driven by an all-Heed Thesis system (Alpha pre/dac, Phi/Pi phono, and Omega monoblock amps), with a Funk Firm Vector TT with the incredible little Transfiguartion Axia in front. The sound was rich and alive with bass underpinnings that belied the very modest size of the Enigmas. And, while there were some differences in the presentation of the two systems, both excelled at putting music into the room, that left listeners amazed and full of compliments, regardless of which system they happened to be hearing. Alan and Jordan (and I, when I could) took turns at the DJ duties, playing “real” music, instead of the usual show/audiophile selections droning from so many rooms. I have always said that the mark of a good system is how well it plays “regular” music (that is, the music music lovers love), allowing the listener to immerse him- or herself into the musical performance, regardless of whether the recording is flattering or not.
In our other room, which we referred to as “The Lounge,” we demonstrated “personal audio” systems, from the very affordable, to the best that money can buy. Thanks to the primarily headphone-centric theme of this room, we were able to set it up in a way that actually resembled a very cool living space, rather than looking like the usual “hifi church,” where the gear demands all the room and attention.
Many thanks to Dan Muzquiz of Blackbird Audio in Santee CA, and Gary Koh of Genesis for all their work to make this room such a success. It seemed jammed full of people the whole time, either curious, or anxious to hear the new HiFiMan HE 1000 (utterly breathtaking), or Audeze LCD-3 headphones with either the Viva Egoista 845, or the brand new Viva Egoista 2a3 headphone amplifiers, which pretty much define edge-of-the-art performance in high- and lower-powered headphone amplifier design. Both made the headphones sing like nothing else: the 845 with power and authority, the 2a3 with finesse and stunning harmonic texture. Amedeo Schembri has done it again. Many thanks also, to Sergey Porotsky of Viva, for arranging to get the new amp to us from the Munich show (just) in time. Source material was provided by a Basis 2200 turntable sporting the Transfiguration Proteus cartridge…no words to describe… Also, on the digital side, the Viva Numerico and Gary’s Genesis Muse music server both showed just how far digital technology has advanced, approaching the very best that analog has to offer (see above).
Dan with Dave Gordon of Audio Research
Bob with Gary Koh and AJ Conti of Basis Audio. Two very smart guys who speak the same language…
Elsewhere in the room, Heed Audio DAC’s, Transports, CanAmps and Canalots made tons of music with the more affordable phones from HiFiMan and Audeze.
The last system in the room was a real shocker. A brand new (arrived Monday, just like the Viva 2a3 Egoista) little gem from Heed Audio, the Elixir integrated amp ($1195, including dedicated onboard class A headphone amplifier) powered the HiFiMan HE 560’s to great heights from a Heed DT/Dactilus 3 combo. Then, providing those that just had to hear some speakers a reason to come into the room (and STAY…), the Elixer lit up the Trenner & Friedl Sun’s. Just plunked down in a corner, this diminutive speaker, which perhaps might best be described as a “micro-monitor,” no larger than a pair of computer speakers, these little coaxial wonders absolutely filled the room with rich, full music. NO ONE could believe the deep, articulate and solid bass these 4 ½ inch woofers pushed out of their gloriously constructed and finished cabinets. Make no mistake, the level of musical resolution and refinement this little system produced could seriously make you wonder about the value of all those systems along the halls that were 10, 100, maybe even close to 1000 times bigger and more expensive. Game over.
Most of all, though, what really made the show the huge success it was, were all the people and personalities behind it. Dan, Alan, and Jordan proved once again that it is entirely possible to be warm, kind, welcoming and gracious; playing “real” music that made people close their eyes, tap their feet, and sway to the rhythms. And it was such a great pleasure to meet and work with Gary Koh. His brilliance (it felt like grad school again…soaking up knowledge and ideas as fast as I could) in explaining complex design and theories, was only eclipsed by his down-to-earth kindness and roll-up-your-sleeves hard work. This on-site team was simply remarkable and a true joy to work with. They actually made it possible for me to stick to my pledge of “no stress,” even though I felt like I was sprinting the whole weekend, providing support to both rooms, stepping in for DJ duty, having meetings with other dealers, supporting other rooms displaying Transfiguration cartridges…Whew. Finally, thanks to all the rest of the teams that made this show possible, all the great people back in Italy, Latvia, Hungary, Japan, and Austria, who commit themselves every day to producing products that are different from all the others, that dedicate themselves to helping people connect to the core of the music they love.
Bob in the lounge with Colleen Cardas and Marc Phillips drinking the morning coffee, courtesy of the wonderful Jura coffee machine they stashed in our room.
The show itself was a bit different this year. Yes, the stereotype of the aging-white-male audiophile was certainly present (though “aged” or “ancient” now seems more accurate), but there were a lot of younger people, a lot more women than I ever remember seeing at a US audio show, dads (and moms) with their kids (boys AND girls in their early teens—some even younger…and they LOVED what we were doing. If this is the demographic of the future, we, and all our products, are going to lead the way. New game.