The ISE show in Amsterdam, a merger between Infocomm and CEDIA expos is the go to venue for introducing new custom AV products in Europe.
Waterfall Audio has just released a new product there: Pro In-Wall behind the screen loudspeakers.
As what seems to be a radical departure from glass speakers, the trademark of the brand since inception over 10 years ago, it tackles the high-end of the Home Theater market, and maybe will make inroads into smaller commercial venues with the advent of smaller screening rooms equipped with 4K video projectors, aiming at lowering the cost of film-based screening rooms.
As 24/192 audio files are considered by many (including myself...) to be superior to vinyl, and with the advent of film production going digital, thanks to the likes of RED and ALEXA cameras and Super HD dics and projectors, it is only a matter of time before the distribution and projections of new movies will go entirely digital.
It will then be a case of upgrading the sound systems and for venues that cannot afford expensive systems like JBL Synthesis, Waterfall's new in-walls might well be the go! The technical details are still scarce, and I have not listened to them, but knowing Cedric's and Nadine's dedication to quality, I am sure they have a good surprise in store (or should I say in wall???) for us. Stay tuned!
New venue for this Paris Show now in its 35th year!
Along the Seine, almost across from the famous Maison de la Radio, where Elipson got its first big break, the Novotel Paris Tour Eiffel is a mighty building for a mighty affair!
Unfortunately, I could not attend this year, having chosen to cover the Sydney Show in a few days, and missing out also on tht RMAF in Denver that I dream to attend one day...
Four French Manufacturers were featured by the organisers:
MICROMEGA with a new asynchronous 24/192 DAC
ATHOM great speakers - see review of previous shows on this blog
ELIPSON with the BS50 Tribute now in production and
WATERFALL AUDIO, our glass speakers experts and good friends.
I will keep you posted when I get some feedback from my own grapevine...stay tuned
Roquemaure is a picturesque village on the west bank of the Rhone river, drinking distance from Chateauneuf-du-Pape, Lirac, Tavel and many more famous wineries - including my favourite Cotes-du-Rhone: Vidal-Fleury!
Christophe Bedel, the enthusiastic and knowledgeable owner of related website www.hifi-vintage-audiophile.fr has just been in contact with me asking if I could promote this event on my blog. I couldn't refuse!
In fact, I am trying to convince Greg Borrowman from AHM, who will be in France at that time visiting Focal and hopefully Waterfall Audio to stop by and report on the only fair of this type I know of in the South of France!
This is good timing too as a number of Festivals are happening in the region over the summer period, with usually a fantastic array of live concerts to choose from - Avignon being the most famous of them, but Uzes, Carpentras, Bagnols sur Ceze, La Roque d'Antheron ( a must!), Aix en Provence, Orange and Nimes all competing for your time (and good money..)
So, if you are one of 43 out of 100 Australians out of the country at any given time, or one of my readers in any of the 70 countries or so where I have an audience, and if you happen to be in Provence for the European Summer, just drop by and have a look at the fantastic collection of vintage Hifi that will be on display and for sale!
I will update this post with an exact address as soon as I get it, but if your French is good enough, then visit Christphe's website: www.hifi-vintage-audiophile.fr
I have chosen to review the show in reverse alphabetical order for a change, so here we are starting with W!!!
Wisdom Audio is new to me but have been around for quite a while, 1996 to be precise...
David Graebener is the "eminence grise" behind the company, with 30 years of experience developing planar transducers.
Jerry Hanna - in the photo - is vice president business development and worked at Madrigal for some time (as a few of the executive team members) was very good at explaining and demonstrating the virtues of their planar technologies.
The column you see is a full range device going down to 80Hz on its own!
There is a HUGE subwoofer to cater for the lower 2 octaves (45x90x150cms!!!)
The system claims 100 db/W/m, which together with the cylindrical directivity pattern of the satelites gives a very realistic and precise sound.
Not quite as impressive as the Everest system from JBL demonstrated next door, it was nevertheless the next closest thing to live music.
Quite an achievement, and certainly less unaffordable than the Everest
(Do you need to climb the Everest to achieve Wisdom???...lol!)
Dave Wilson does not need an introduction, as he has been designing "reference" systems for over 30 years.
The new Sasha demonstrated on the stand of its French distributor Europe Audio Diffusion (EAD) is the latest incarnation of a long series of extraordinary speakers on which the most famous would be the Watt/Puppy, a satelite/subwoofer combination, my favourite arrangement as you probably know by now, if you have followed this blog for some time...
It is also a "money is no object" kind of proposition and the reference speaker of the revered Ken Kessler - not an easy treat to achieve!
In good company here driven by Audio Research electronics and next to the latest version of Magnepan panels!
EAD also distributes Macintosh and the new Dan D'Agostino amplifier (unfortunately on static display only...)
This is not for the faint hearted, but certainly one of the best sounds at the Show.
Third award for the Niagara, top of the range for this unique concept of glass cabinet loudspeakers.
Powered by Atohm drivers, another sublime French loudspeaker manufacturer, these original products are both very good to your ears and with a very high WAF index. Waterfall is distributed all around the World and as far as...Australia!
Nadine and Cedric Aubriot are a very handsome couple running the show and they have managed to assemble a diverse range of products well targeted to the melomane as well as to the CEDIA type clients who want a decent sound from a discrete system.
I am happy to report that I will be covering the show officially this year for the Australian Hifi Magazine,
I feel very honoured to be the chosen one!
Here are two links to the show's website for those of you that are keen to visit:
Dates are October 1st & 2nd at the Pullman Rive Gauche Hotel.
One scoop: Ken Kessler will launch his new book on the history of KEF,
who will be celebrating their 50 years of designing beautiful speakers and will introduce the "Blade"
Some of the French brands already registered to exhibit:
See you there!
Or stay tuned for more news on this blog...
My dear readers, it is time for a well deserved break, as it is both Christmas and our summer holiday here in Australia.
I will be celebrating Christmas at home in Sydney with my wife and children and hopefully Santa Claus will bring me more vinyls to listen to and a tele lens for my Olympus E- PL1, my best photographic investment in my entire life (I started with a 6x9 cm Voiglander in my teens then moved on to a twin lens Rollei, a few Nikons - one that I still use when nostalgic of real film - and 2 Mamiyas 645, one stolen from me, the last one belonging to my ex-employer...). Most of the photos on this site since June are taken with this beautiful micro third four machine.
Then, I will spend a few days in regional Australia with a nice base in Canberra, and return to Sydney for New Year's Eve and its massive fireworks, enjoying a nice meal at Nick's Seafood on King Street Wharf, with some of our closest friends.
Next year, we are planning to bring you more reviews of vintage products, as well as real tests of more modern ones - Waterfall being the first one, as the Australian importer has agreed to loan me a pair for a full investigation.
Hopefully, more French manufacturers will follow suit and we will bring to you even more interesting content (I am dreaming of a comparison between Elipson 4050 and 4260s...)
If anybody from Agilent or Rohde & Schwarz are in a generous mood, I will need an real-time FFT analyser to do justice to these products...
In the meantime, many thanks for reading my prose and I wish you all a Merry Christmas and a prosperous and Happy New Year 2011.
Today, I will review the two brands/products that have most impressed me in terms of speaker design and new to me.
Atohm and Waterfall Audio are kind of cousins as Thierry Comte is a partner in Waterfall, and the main driver (sic...) behind Atohm.
Besides, Waterfall Audio uses almost exclusively Atohm speakers.
Both companies have created a range of speakers that have some design criteria in common, but have achieved very different products out of some of the same components.
Atohm drivers are all high efficiency and both bass and midrange drivers have a metal membrane. Their top of the range tweeter however has a silk membrane and a 28mm diameter coil small enough to always stay within the humongous magnetic field of more than 17000 Gauss, resulting in a massive 98db/w/m efficiency.
We were exposed to their top model, the GT 3.0, a so-called 3.5 way freestanding speaker beautifully finished and equipped with 2 7inch bass drivers, 1 6inch medium with a phase plug and the above mentioned supertweeter.
The crossover frequencies are 100, 150 and 2500Hz, hence the 3.5 way name.
All filter slopes are 6db and the tweeter is time aligned.
The midrange driver has its own chamber fitted with an internal conical structure aimed at taming the standing waves and reflections inside that cabinet. This is reminiscent of the structure in the B&W Nautilus, but inverted inside the cabinet.
The bass drivers are installed in a bass reflex enclosure with a laminated vent at the base of the speaker's cabinet (like in our Microphase SWS subwoofer, this arrangement removes most of the potential problems linked with the floor structure and the position within the room).
The very well conducted demo showed the accuracy, speed and time alignment of this speaker, highly respecting the timbres of instruments and at 92db efficiency and 300W power capacity, reproducing the music with a realistic level and a total absence of distortion. Definitely in my top five at the show.
Their cost of 7,900 euros + seems to be the norm at that level of quality (Elipson 4260, Vienna Acoustics, or my favourite Martin Logans are twice the price...)
Waterfall Audio has taken a different approach, using some of the same drivers, in their top model, the Niagara.
First of all, Waterfall has made a name for themselves by introducing glass cabinets for their speakers.
We all know that glass is a very inert material, but being transparent, one cannot hide much inside the cabinet. Besides, it is quite a difficult material to process and assemble, more so once you add the complexity of a horn in front of the tweeter!
But Cedric Aubriot and Thierry Combe are not the types to refuse a challenge, and they came up with a number of innovative ideas to make this speaker a "chef d'oeuvre" in the sense of the Compagnons in the Middle Ages.
The result is a beautiful objet with a very high WAF - they have their Export Manager, Nadine, as their first judge, and she has convinced women (and men, I am sure...) in 30 countries to agree with her and buy this wonderful object!
Having said that, the auditive result is totaly in tune with the aesthetics of the product, proving once more that form should follow function if one wants to achieve the best possible results in any field. Electroacoustics are still full of "black magic" and in this case a transparent one: the filter is hidden in the base of the speaker, and so is the larger passive bass driver. Again, the midrange driver has its own enclosure baptised Acoustic Damping Tube, and the bass is generated mainly by a second 7inch driver. The tweeter is a 21mm diameter with a silk cone behind the proprietary glass horn. All drivers are bespoke versions of Atohm drivers.
The sound is solid, accurate and neutral. At 89db and 200w power handling, the output is realistic with a very nice, precise soundstage.
At 27,000 euros, this is not for the faint hearted, but a tenth of the price of a Focal Utopia and a lot easier to fit in one's living room. And with all due respect to Jacques Mahul, a much more lively proposition, more engaging with the source material, and, after a relatively short audition, certainly not less accurate.
It is to be noted here that Len Wallis (of Len Wallis Audio fame in Sydney) has given me access for a full morning to the Utopia in his showroom with two of his most knowledgeable sales people (and vinyl enthusiasts on top...) as my 60th birthday present...and so, my opinion of the Utopia is based on a much longer listening session on my own material. Although we had probably hal a million dollars of equipment in that room, I cannot say I was totally convinced mainly because it was almost surgical and lack the passion to engage my senses totally.
So, if I had a spare 40,000A$, I would certainly consider the Niagara!
I would like to try them with my Bryston amp and a Michell turntable and Grado Signature cartridge. Maybe the Aussie distributor of Waterfall Audio can organise that for me ( I will BYO my amp!!!)
Born in France, well travelled, relocated to Sydney in 1997.