In Part 1, I told you about three right-brain "Merry Melody" grand slams in Avantgarde-USA's, Wavelength Audio's and Almarro's great-sounding rooms. Now in the spirit of adventure, I'm going to tell you about three terrific left-brain "Looney Tune" rooms: The Nelson Pass, Jeff Rowland and GamuT Audio exhibits.

The Pass Labs Rushmore was playing to excellent effect this year, giving me a very enjoyable listening session in their room. The Rushmore is a four-way active loudspeaker, with each driver driven by its own internal Class A Pass amplifier which is readily adjustable from the loudspeaker's back for room-tuning duties. The Rushmore is a beautifully constructed full-range loudspeaker, and the blue glow of the ribbon tweeter was a sight to behold. The sound was spacious, detailed and involving, perhaps the perfect solution for integrating an elegant state-of-the-art HiFi system into a home listening environment where audio clutter is not an option. All you need is a front-end and you're ready to go!

Jeff Rowland had an impressive room this year that was a combination of passive and active displays. The fit and finish of Jeff's gear is legendary and truly a sight to behold. This year, Jeff showed with the JMLab Be Utopia to give a spacious, detailed, musical and full-range experience. I was particularly impressed with Jeff's new Model 201 amplifiers - who says good things don't come in small packages? The new Concentra integrated too was on display, now in a slim-line case. I've been pestering Jeff for a Concentra review sample so let's see what this year will bring.
The GamuT and Tonian Labs room was absolutely stunning this year. The sound was dynamic, detailed, musical and incredibly engaging - I was really knocked out. Loudspeaker duties were handled by the impressive 89dB sensitive Tonian Acoustics ported 2-ways with 10" paper cone woofer and 1" dome tweeter. The GamuT preamplifier, the new GamuT M200 monoblocks and a Gamut CD player provided the musical juice. Supra Sword speaker wire, Supra EFF-I interconnects and Supra LoRad power cords had connecting duties. On passive display was another of Tony's new loudspeaker designs utilizing the PHY-HP full-range driver from France mated to a ribbon tweeter. I've been extremely impressed with the PHY-HP driver since VSAC last year and I hope that Tony's speaker starts a new trend to use this seductive driver in commercial products.

I was so impressed with the GamuT/Tonian Labs room that I award it my pick for the
Best Solid-State Sound of CES, and my vote for Second Best Sound of CES and T.H.E. Show. Bravo! Apparently word about the stunning sound in this room was spreading fast through the shows - and I caught Audiopax grand wizard Eduardo de Lima (who by the way had a great-sounding room of his own) sneak into this exhibit for a quick listen.

Other Goodies:
CES saw so many products of note that it's really hard to give everyone the mention and praise they deserve. However, here are a few highlights that gave me lust bumps you couldn't pound down with a sledge hammer!

One of the most remarkable loudspeakers I've ever had the pleasure to experience in person were John Wolfe's Classic Audio Reproductions 50th Anniversary Hartsfield models. The big front-loading Hartsfield has a 15-inch low- frequency driver coupled through an audio horn-lens to provide a very articulate midrange response. Overtones from 8000 Hz on up are handled by an ultra high-frequency bi-radial transducer. Custom crossover network provide seamless driver integration. These big corner horns really caught my eye. If I had the $30K asking price, I would have ordered a pair on the spot!

The Wavac Audio Lab MD-805 monoblocks are a work of art. Looking at their curvaceous lines and jewelry quality finish was awe-inspiring. They're not only good-looking but got the muscle of 55wpc single-ended triode power as well - available in the US through TMH Audio.

Buggtussel and Opera Audio came to T.H.E. Show ready to conquer the world with a full line of loudspeakers and electronics displayed in multiple rooms. I was impressed with the high quality and very fair prices of the Buggtussel products, not to mention the warm, engaging and musical sound they achieved coupled with the Opera Audio electronics. The Opera Consonance Cyber 800 KT88 monos were making gorgeous sound with the Buggtussel Lemniscus loudspeakers. One of my favorite finds of the shows were the Opera Consonance single-ended headphone/integrated amplifiers on display. The Cyber 10/30 are KT88/KT66 and 2A3 versions, the Cyber 20/20Basic matching EL84 variants. The fit and finish was high and they sounded seductive and fun to listen to. A pair of added speaker binding posts expands their use beyond dedicated headphone use, making one of these little babies the ideal heart of the ultimate night stand or office system. I was so impressed that I am going to investigate this further and see if I can't get one of those for a 6moons review!

Okay, that's it for Part 2. In Part 3, I'll have further drool-inducing goodies as well as my top three picks for the best rooms at CES 2004 and T.H.E. Show - don't miss it!