While Nola is Alon backwards, the speakers on display weren't - backwards. The bigger surprise than the name change here was meeting Sedrick Harris of Acoustic Partners who has become the new Berendsen importer. If Berendsen doesn't ring a bell, Gamut will. Their Gamut CDP was a rebadged Berendsen with a new face plate and double the price. This German firm already years ago attracted the attention of Allen Perkins of Immedia Sound but his product mix conspired against picking up the distribution. Sedrick has seized the opportunity now and promised to make review product available to 6moons once his infrastructure is established enough to make this attractive. Alon aficionados meanwhile should rest assured that the name change is merely a legality and has no bearings on the famed products other than a different badge (without the 100% price hike of Gamut's precedent).

The next entry, again, didn't occur at the show proper but in Upper Saddle River/New Jersey, in the home of Overkill Audio US distributor Joe Shanaphy and Audio/Video Editor of That's Life! magazine. Jules and I were invited to be the first US reviewers to listen to Joe's system. Paul came along for the ride while Jules bucked nasty traffic in best New York fashion. I was ready to sharpen my middle finger a few times but Coolman's reflexes made that unnecessary.

Think Manger driver, think critically damped Talon Firebird-reminiscent bass alignment. Think $40,000 for any imaginable finish. This includes the active DEQX outboard digital crossover from Australia with full PC control over all vital 'brain' functions, as well as in-home VIP setup/calibration by an expert. Definitely think bi-amping which, in Joe's case, meant a Sunfire amp for bass duties and DeHavilland 845 SETs or Red Rock Renaissance monos for the Mangers. Heathrow in the UK and Denver during the upcoming Rocky Mountain Fest will be the coming-out parties for this system. Shanaphy plans on opening 6 US dealerships and 3 in Canada, all of whom will provide inclusive on-site delivery/setup services. Joe is presently working with a well-known domestic tube amp manufacturer on a customized SET to partner with the Overkill Audio speakers and hopes to have this amp design finalized in time for the mentioned shows.

Digital crossovers are the new frontier. Forget phase and time issues. Think 300dB/octave slopes if that's what the drivers want. Serguei Timachev of Stealth Audio is currently collaborating with Jerry Ozment of Audio Logic and Ted Lindbladt of HighEndAudio.Com to release the NOS Audio The One, a hybrid amplifier with 3-way fully adjustable active digital crossovers, massive parallel DAC architectures, digital/analog inputs and an output stage that is remotely switchable between tube and solid-state outputs and includes time delay functions for a subwoofer output. Ambitious? You bet. If the audio gods smile upon this trio of audio devotees, CES might see this introduction of Keanu's audio cousin.

The Rogue/Vandersteen/Clearaudio room was one of the controlled demos whose door happened to be open just when I walked by. Shazaam. With the Model 5As driven by Rogue Audio Zeus monos fronted by a massive twin-arm Clearaudio Master TQ-I with linear tracker and monaural cartridge, the mono demo track demonstrated to perfection why, if done properly as here, monaural playback has its own legions of devotees. Warm and expansive, dynamic without stridency, this was big'n'bold sound with resolution and musicality - just what the mad surgeon Srajan ordered. I'm glad I stopped by here - kudos to all who participated. Such show systems don't always deliver but this one did with a vengeance.

As he warned one and all in his 6moons ad, Alan 'Mojo' Yun of Silverline Audio used HE2004 to spring on an unsuspecting public his new 20wpc SET, the $15,000 Moto with 12AXT-powered 300Bs driving 805/VT143s. Naturally, Alan argued long and hard with his mirror. Would consumers used to Silverline as a speaker design house accept an amplifier from the same stable? Dennis Had had attempted the reverse with his Soliloquy line only to pawn it off on Bernie Byers who since has sold it to Dave Berman. With the Moto, only the future will tell - but based on the sound Alan produced, it seems to be a very serious attempt at building an amp that's copasetic with his own speaker offering. If we can get one for review. John Potis seems ideally positioned to take its measure.

The Hilton's own ZeroGravity Bazaar of software sellers was, naturally, a true treasure trove for the intrepid big-game safari hunters. I scored a few m.a. recordings and Cheskys and asked David about the future of DVD-A and SACD. With the blue laser on the horizon, it's anyone's guess. Mean-while Todd Garfinkle of m.a. promised to set us up with some first-rate mastering facilities when the time for our own 6moons label arrives. Needless to say, we won't ask our listeners to remaster our own releases with Exact Audio Copy for best results. If somebody knows good sound, it's Todd so we'll listen carefully to whatever he'll recommend. When Candyman's wallet eventually protested in anguish over the forthcoming inspection back home, Paul graciously spent further dough on Jules' behalf, pulling out LPs by the dozens while claiming all manner of must-own sonic and musical superiority. Jules humored his assistant's enthusiasm for a while and walked home with enough vinyl to build quite the constrained-layer platter on his Well Tempered table. I reckon Mimsie Coleman has again built up enough audio widow credits for a necklace or ring?

Marja & Henk meanwhile gifted me with 8 new CDs and Tash Goka of Divergent Technologies unceremoniously allowed me to sample two recent CD acquisitions from his last Turkey trip over AKG K-1000s plugged into his ASL DT/OTL 32. Seeing my head bop in ecstasy, he then simply whispered "Take 'em home and send them to me later". Thanks, Tash! Then Richard Bird Rives of Rives Audio handed me the latest Misty River Willow release and asked me to tell you that one of the Misty gals is experiencing medical complications and Rives will take over on-line distribution of their records. All proceeds will go directly to the artists, with not a penny taken by Rives. Who says business is all cold and heartless? It's anecdotes such as these that warm the heart and explain why all of us nutcases refuse to abandon audio for greener pastures.