Thomas J. Norton

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Thomas J. Norton Posted: Oct 14, 2009 1 comments

If I had to give a prize for the best sound at the show, it would be a toss-up between the Wilson Sasha W/Ps tied to Ayre electronics, discussed earlier, and the PMC MB2XBDi speakers (shown here) driven by Bryston electronics. Apart from room bass mode issues that all manufacturers had to deal with, the PMCs were superb. They were far too big for the space, designed as they are for professional applications. But the top modules of the towers are available separately (known as the MB2i), offering a more domesticated appearance for $21,000/pair. I didn't catch the price of the add-on bottom subwoofer modules, but am reasonably certain that for home use a duet (or, for home theater, a quintet) of MB2is will be a better fit—supplemented by a more conventional and inconspicuous subwoofer or two positioned where they minimize room interactions (co-locating the subwoofers with the main speakers almost never gives the best results).

So went RMAF 2009. The show also offered a wide selection of interesting and informative seminars, with presenters from the two major high-end, mainly two-channel audio print publications, <I>Stereophile</I> and <I>The Absolute Sound</I>, and others as well. If you missed the show this year, a 2010 edition is currently planned for next fall.

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Thomas J. Norton Posted: Oct 14, 2009 1 comments

If the Vivid Giyas make you think of the B&W Nautilus speakers, that's because the same cabinet designer was involved. The Giyas will set you back $58,000/pair, not including, of course, the Luxman electronics and source driving them here, and the Synergistic actively shielded cables (don't ask) tying it all together.

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Thomas J. Norton Posted: Oct 14, 2009 0 comments

Attention, Wilson Audio Alexandra and MAXX owners, your center channel speaker has arrived and your checkbook is about to take another hit. I didn’t catch the price of the new Polaris, due in 2010, and it wasn't on site. I found out about it only through a lonely printed handout sitting on a side table. The photo here is from the Wilson website. The speaker is far larger than the picture might suggests, and if it's designed to match those two…um…puppies, you can bet it will be a cost-no-object design. My guess is that you just might be able to bring home a <I>pair</I> of the new Sasha W/Ps for less.

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Thomas J. Norton Posted: Oct 14, 2009 0 comments

You may not have heard of Bamberg Audio, out of Fishers, Indiana, but you might in the future. The company's Series 5 TMW offers a lot of value in this intriguing and fine-sounding $8300 package. The top modules are available separately, making them more or less suitable for surround and center channel duties.

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Thomas J. Norton Posted: Oct 14, 2009 1 comments

The company may be more widely known for clever ads that play on its naim than for loudspeakers, but Naim Audio's new Ovator S-600 might just change all that. There's enough innovation here to fill a review-length discussion, but the main feature of the system is the BMR (Balanced Mode Radiator) midrange/tweeter. The latter covers the entire spectrum from 380Hz to above the audible range. The dispersion is claimed to be similar that of a conventional midrange and tweeter array, but with the superior coherence possible when all the mid/high frequencies are coming from the same location. A brief listen indicated more than a little promise. The BMR also seems to be ideally suited to a center channel design, though there appear to be no immediate plans to offer one. The S-600 is expected to sell for just north of $10,000. A somewhat smaller, less expensive sibling is also expected.

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Thomas J. Norton Posted: Oct 14, 2009 0 comments

The Hegel room was one of the first good-sounding rooms I heard, and remained one of the most affordable. Hegel? It's a Norwegian company that has been doing business almost everywhere in the world for about 20 years, but this is their first serious foray into the U.S. market. A tough time to start, but they come well equipped. The demo featured the H200 integrated amp ($4400), which at 200W per channel is one of the more powerful integrateds around, the CDP2A mk II CD player ($2650), and the new HD10A D/A converter ($1200) featuring USB and SPDIF digital inputs. The speakers that completed the system were the Dali Helicon 400s.

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Thomas J. Norton Posted: Oct 14, 2009 0 comments

The 2009 Rocky Mountain Audio Fest was held earlier this month in Denver, Colorado, as it has for several years now. While my main beat these days is home theater, both for <I>Ultimate AV</I> and, increasingly, for <I>Home Theater </I> magazine, once an audiophile always an audiophile, so I was anxious to find out what was happening in the world of hair-shirt Hi-Fi.

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Thomas J. Norton Posted: Oct 22, 2014 0 comments
The annual Rocky Mountain Audio Fest was held in early October in the Marriott Hotel at the Denver Tech Center. For at least the past 10 years this has been the biggest of the many audio shows now jostling for position around the U.S. Depending on who you ask, the Newport Beach (CA) show, held in June, is nipping at its heels but isn’t quite there yet.

Manufacturers (not to mention the press) must be tearing what’s left of their hair out trying to support all these shows, which now include RMAF, Newport, (northern) California, Chicago, New York City, Washington D.C., and Toronto. Let me know if I’ve missed one! And this doesn’t even include the trade-only CES (and, for some, CEDIA EXPO). For small manufacturers this is a major expense, and many of them only attend one or two. If they support two, it’s most likely they’ll include RMAF and CES).

Unlike many present-day audiophiles I keep one foot in the audio/video world of home theater and surround sound and the other in the 2-channel world of high-end audio. I regret that multichannel, even for music alone, remains anathema to many audio fans. As for film sound, for many that’s clearly the spawn of the devil...

Thomas J. Norton Posted: Oct 17, 2005 0 comments

<I>Ah, fall in the Rockies. Crisp weather. Clear blue skies. Hi-Fi.</I>

Thomas J. Norton Posted: May 07, 2006 0 comments

When we think of a power amp today, we think of that large, heavy, hot-running, often ugly block of metal we hide away so we don't have to look at it. Or, if it's impressively large or expensive we proudly display it on the floor&mdash;an amp that's large, impressive, and expensive enough to show off is too heavy to put anywhere else! There, we willingly subject our ankles and shins to its sharp heat sinks on the sacrificial altar of great sound.

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