You'd think that with Marja & Henk, Jeff Day, Jules, myself and John all entrenched in hornspeaker land, I'd have paid attention here - but I didn't take notes and can't remember the room number. On this one, I'll have to leave you guessing. Sorry. I'll make up for it on the next entry of Hyperion. This firm is headquartered in Walnut/CA but manufactures in Asia to offer you ultra-competitive pricing. Electronics carry the Hyperion, speakers the Studio Acoustics label.

Like the surprising Stello exhibit which Candyman will cover, this Hyperion display combined exceptional build quality, pricing and performance, with the custom Plexiglas tops of the components proudly showcasing their innards. The electronics cover three models - BEC-225 dual-mono integrated [$1,795], BEC-P25 preamplifier [$1,495] and BEC-250 [$1,495]. The BEC moniker refers to Broadband Energy Converter, presumably indicating wide bandwidth designs. The preamp is spec'd to 200kHz. The integrated offers 60wpc, the amplifier 120. The metal remote of the preamp and integrated controls volume, mute and switching between four inputs and the rec out. The speaker models are four-square and encompass the Wilson/Watt look-alike top model HPS-938 on active display [$3,995/pr], the smaller Verity Parsifal look-alike HPS-906 [$1,995/pr], and two stand-mounted monitors, the HWS-586 [$595/pr] and HWS-585 [$295/pr]. A new US patent on the Synchro-Vibrate Flattop S.V.F. woofer protects a design that eliminates the usual spider suspension and instead uses magnetic fluid damping for the restoring force. All speaker models are finished in piano-gloss. The four-driver three-way two-piece HPS-938 above is a 90dB 6-ohm design with claimed 35Hz-22kHz bandwidth and twin 8" S.V.F woofers, an equivalent 6.5" Carbon fiber midrange and a 1" tweeter in a short copper waveguide/horn. Another novelty is the M35/55 magnetic levitation footer, the numbers designating max float weight. A set of four M35s is $60 while the M55s will set you back $90. If all of this sounds too good to be true, contact VP of Sales Hungkuo Wo at #909.598.2535. He will confirm that the pricing here is factual indeed. Welcome to the jungle, Hyperion!

Innersound of Boulder/CO is going places. Not only is the lineup of electronics and electrostatic speakers revamped, there's more in the works that will involve collaboration with, gasp, out-of-house design talent, defying the good-only-if-designed-here myopia that plagues other design houses. Talking with money man and visionary Gary Leeds, I got the distinct impression that he believes in assemblage as in team spirit, seeing himself as the orchestrator and referee who identifies cutting-edge designers he's interested to welcome into the fold, then works on specifying particular contributions to build out his firm's offerings.

New right now are the DPR Reference amplifiers with the new 'Audio Vault' face plate mentioned earlier. Dynamic Power Regulation is how the new designation translates, referring to a power supply said to be unconditionally stable into any load while driving 18 hi-speed bipolar output devices per channel. The DRP-500 [$13,000] and DRP-1000 stereo/ monos indicate 8-ohm power output in their nomenclature. The new RCP-1 Reference preamplifier [$12,000] uses an ingenious flywheel for volume control like the TacT Millennium pioneered a few years ago. The Tehya center speaker combines a panel with a transmission-line loaded 8" dynamic woofer below 500Hz and covers 34Hz to 27kHz +/-2dB. The 66.5" tall 90dB Kachina replaces the former Isis and brings its 8" TL woofer in at 900Hz while the 74" tall flagship active Kaya Reference [$20,000/pr] replaces the Eros, uses a 10" woofer , 600w amplifier, electronic outboard crossover, startling 98dB sensitivity and offers 22Hz-27kHz +/-2dB bandwidth. Completing the active
display was a $20,000 Linn CD12 Transcription CD player, a Redpoint Testa Rossa turntable [chrome version presently with Jules Coleman for review] and the HRS M1R rack system [$8,300]. Stay tuned for my forthcoming factory tour which will report on the pre/post changes at Innersound since Gary Leeds got involved to augment Rogers Sanders' design acumen with new business tactics solidly cemented on experience and the requisite resources necessary to implement ambitious goals.

Jeff Joseph of Joseph Audio used the changed voting policy for Best Sound of Show to remind showgoers that he had, well, won a few years in a row too many, thereby being personally responsible for the abolishment of the voting scheme. In his words, he probably had pissed off a few manufacturers who never managed to grab that particular crown. Sneaking into the controlled demo just in the nick of time to barley secure a back wall standing spot in his diagonal setup, I was in no position to intelligently comment on the sound. I thus concentrated instead on Jeff's masterful crowd control gifts which truly are second to none. Slightly blurry, the photo to the right will still give you a rough idea of his new sub/Pearl model that premiered in NYC and should soon be referenced on his website for details I didn't catch.

Marten Design teamed up with Brinkmann USA to drive Leif's Coltrane Altos which our own Edward in England purchased for his new reference {to left, Dan Meinwald, US importer for both Marten and E.A.R., and the headman at Marten Design]. Dan and I have a standing joke/arrangement. We both love eclectic WorldMusic and I usually burn a particular song or two on my latest show compilation just to surprise Dan with. The joke? It drives people out of the room, guaranteed. That gives Dan a little respite until the next Diana Krall crowd appears. However, the moment my Vicente Amigo/El Pele Flamenco track ended and Dulce Pontes cued up, the room filled again - female vocals, ya know?

On my internal luv/rez barometer, the needle in this room pegged heavily into the resolution half. I was longing for Dan's tube amps to instill a bit of needed warmth and harmonic density which these ceramic drivers require to balance their exceptional speed and incisiveness. Alas, E.A.R wasn't at HE2004. Dan wanted to show off the Altos and Brinkmann was interested to carry half the financial pain. That's how it goes, sometimes - manufacturers arrange for shared displays to enable participation in the first place but the match up of components isn't always the most ideal.

The mbl room, just like the photos above, vacillated between incredible transparency and spatiality with just the right degree of apparent warmth [left] but, on the wrong materials and at elevated levels, turned cold and too cutting [right]. Unfortunately, the mbl representative controlling volumes in this room catered to listener requests without obeying output levels that would have kept his system within its pleasant power band. These speakers need massive juice to wake up. The actual useful power envelope is rather narrow - exceed it above and your ears will wilt, go below and the curtain doesn't quite rise. On the right music and with the right levels, this was a truly stunning system - but the transformation into bluish aloofness and the harshness of transient edge without subsequent bloom that followed it like a shadow ultimately had me leave this room far earlier than I hoped to. The German website is High fidelity is an admirable goal. The question remains, fidelity to what, exactly? In my book, fidelity to musical luv must remain the final goal.