EquaRack's massive shelfless component supports were on loan in the AYDN/KR Audio exhibit. As an ad sponsor on our site, I had naturally taken a close look at their on-line offerings which are sold factory-direct. Still, I had never seen one in the metal as it were and thus wasn't quite prepared for the sheer mass and super-rigid architecture that greeted me upon closer inspection.

The modular joints are fabricated such as to lock once fixed, making for an unmovable scaffolding upon which your components rest decoupled by precision bearings which are also available with adaptors to allow placement of an amp directly on the carpet, hence without the stand interface as seen above. Look for a forthcoming 6moons review by either myself or Jules.

Harmonic Resolution System's stand too was reputedly in multiple rooms but for some reason, I either missed those exhibits or didn't pay attention while listening. Never mind, our own Jules Coleman is slated to do the world premiere honors on the integral HRS flagship stand to bail out his failing Editor. Clearly, between EquaRack, Finite Elemente, Grand Prix Audio, HRS, pARTicular, RixRax, Symposium and Zoethecus, the market in this sector is heating up like a relay-triggered monster tube amp [see Atma Spheres below].

One of my, for purely selfish reasons, most eagerly anticipated CES launches? Nelson Pass' new First Watt brand that picks up where the Aleph/Volksamp brands cruelly dropped the ball when they were phased out. The new Aleph X is a 15-watt, twin gain-stage stereo amp with RCA/XLR inputs and balanced output. The Zen X is housed in the same chassis [left] but sports 10 watts and thus requires only a single gain stage.

Specifically intended for mating season with high-efficiency speakers, I hereby put my name on a review sample for the Zen X. The discontinued Volksamp was a particularly copasetic match for Avantgardes, hence this latest installment in the Aleph topology saga has my name written all over it. Sir Nelson, be a rakish admiral and dispatch one of these when they become available - I've got just the perfect bay to drop anchor in.

Fried Products is the latest incarnation of Shayne Tenace's persistent desire to own/operate a loudspeaker firm though even a cursory survey of the market would suggest that the practical rewards for such ambitions could be mighty scare. Undissuaded, Shayne used CES 2004 to unveil the "Speakers of Truth" Valhalla Series of Studio [$4,995] and Monitor [$2,995] transmission-line models with Bud Fried-style series crossovers [below].

Furutech's Frank Yoo [below] meanwhile announced the imminent opening of Furutech's US office in central California. High time, too, as this very respected Japanese brand has engineering savvy in the connector arena equal to or exceeding that of Germany's WBT while additionally fabricating a deep line of cables and powerline conditioners as well.

The most massive example of the latter was the Super Barrier Power Tap that uses aerospace-grade aluminum alloy and complete hard-separation between its three duplexes.

Talking me through their very comprehensive offering, I left Frank convinced that US manufacturers of cables and electronics would be well advised to closely comb through Furutech's catalogue and experiment with their various RCAs, XLRs, IECs, spades, bananas, outlets, adaptors and car audio accessories.

Their new US-based office can now support these products beyond Harmonic Technology's prior assistance to open the doors and have domestic makers benefit, across their entire width and breath of offerings, from the know-how of these specialist Japanese engineers.

The genius of Anthony Gallo's CRT tweeter is finally mated again to a flagship offering which, in typical Gallo fashion, refuses to take money out of your children's College fund. $2,595/pr will take home a new Reference 3.

Powered by Spectron digital amplification and a Rogue Audio preamp, the speakers were set up close against the wall to demonstrate that, unlike with his earlier twin-ball Reference, Anthony's new design doesn't require deep breathing space. Indeed. In true omni-style, the soundstage was gargantuan and completely unmoored from the actual sources of sound. But unlike with most omnis, images had the kind of focus one expects from direct radiators - which these d'Appolito configured 4-inch Caron-fiber mids clearly are. Consider this a very clever hybrid then, with what could be the best tweeter on the market.

Groomed for speed and vanishingly low dynamic compression and distortion, Gallo's 330-degree HF transducer in previous iterations could get a bit hard and relentless if the partnering electronics weren't carefully matched. What I heard instead was sweetness. And there I thought Anthony was a take-no-prisoners New Yorker. I'm still a bit confounded by this sweetness but stayed for quite a few of my own tracks to be convinced - whatever magic wand Anthony has waved over this finalized, now-in-production design, it's a giant killer. No if, ands or buts - this speaker has masterpiece written all over it. Even the removable Shroud of Chatsworth is a clever bit of sleight of hand though I personally see no reason to hide the stainless steel and aluminum design underneath.

Needless to say, review requests for the Reference 3 are legion already but Anthony promised we'd get our turn. Even if we were the last rag on the publication totem pole -- and we're certainly one of the youngest though Constantine Soo's new dagogo.com takes the freshness cake -- I wouldn't care one wit. This is one breakthrough product that transforms waiting into sweetly throbbing pain. Damn, Anthony, this sweet business is dangerously contagious - stop it now!

Audio guru Mark Gilmore, he of the Hawaiian shirt, and Linda O'Neil, she of the curvy figure, held court in the Gilmore Audio room to prove that money can buy plastic surgery, full-page ads and HiFi sound but not good taste.

While I don't doubt that the Model 2 embodies a lot of cutting-edge technology just like the Halcro amps, I failed to feel even the faintest tugging on my heartstrings. I came, I saw, I heard, I turned around. But Ralph Karsten's humongous Atma Sphere statement tube amps were a sight to behold.

Grand Prix Audio's Alvin Lloyd unveiled his new Laguna, a lower-priced Monaco-derivative design with veneer-over-metal uprights, one stock Carbon-fiber triangulated base for the top shelf (more can be added optionally) and fully modular Sorbothane interfaces for the shelves that can be raised or lowered inside the upright channels to suit diverse needs.

Our own John Potis is slated to take the measure after GPA has recovered from their currently maxed-out order rates.