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Rutherford Audio presented the Elac line of speakers as well as Burmester electronics. The Elac lFS249 incorporates the JET tweeter based on the Heil air motion transformer as well as Elac’s unusual rethinking on the requirements of woofer cone shape regarding dispersion. The visual result was quite arresting as was the performance. The hallmarks in this setup were transparency, precision and expansive imaging. The combination avoided the penalties of brightness or sterility, capturing a natural tonal balance with excellent resolving power.
From Audio Pathways came German company Ceratec Audio Design. They demonstrated a novel speaker design of a tall satellite/subwoofer system which could easily be mistaken for a ribbon-based setup. While it is indeed a line source, it is comprised of an array of narrow woofers and round dome tweeters in a cylindrical aluminum enclosure. It proved capable of respectable output levels and maintained all the virtues of a line source soundstage. The narrow width had both distinctive style and good spousal appeal. An unusual feature was a built-in LED back light with selectable choice of color. This made for surprisingly satisfying sound quality which was aesthetically polished in execution.
Audio Pathways was also fortunate to have Ron Sutherland of Sutherland Audio on hand to talk about his new phono preamp, a state-of-the-art effort sporting an interesting retro display. Conversation with Mr. Sutherland led to one of those magical moments which capture a piece of heart, humour and truth. When asked how high-end audio designers in general and himself in particular manage to maintain such a strong passion for what they do, he smiled and said quietly "we’re not making appliances here".
Ron Sutherland and his new phono stage with Nixie tube display.
Plurison had a strong selection of products running. The Focal Stella Utopia were in full command of one of the larger halls driven by the Devialet D-Premier class A/D integrated. Its performance was impressive but the venue was large as was the audience to make it impossible to be rewarded with its more intimate capabilities. Something to look forward to in the future perhaps.
Plurison also had a full-fledged Naim system which acquitted itself with tremendous prowess and merited far more listening time. Understated and elegant. In another room the company was demonstrating the Martin Logan line in a Micromega combination that proved responsive, dynamic and exceptionally well integrated.
Oracle made its presence felt with a marvelous combination of their turntable and electronics married to a pair of Vienna Acoustics The Kiss loudspeakers that were well matched to the room for intimacy and expansiveness. During my visit Oracle also played host to singer Anne Bisson who was giving a live performance at the show and granted me a quick photo op.