Anything you liked at the Newport Show?

I’m surprised no one has reported back yet. I spent most of Sunday perusing the rooms and still managed to miss some. The ones I liked, in no particular order were:

The Quail Hill room with the Evolution Acoustic speakers (their biggest) fronted by daTZeel preamps and amps.
Quite large and yet relaxed, with all the trimmings one could ask for. Really. Even if I had the wallet, I wouldn’t have the room: those speaker are yuuge.

The Analysis Audio Omega speakers fronted by the Arion Audio gear (class D and tube hybrid).
Simply beguiling sound. Simply the best panels I’ve heard.

Avantgarde Uno XDS speakers fronted by Audiopax gear.
Very convincing and natural. No honk or tizziness. Just "where’s the sound coming from?"

Tonian Labs. I never got around to get Tony’s newest speaker’s model number but I stayed there for quite awhile.
Fronted by a simple Denon integrated and a mid level CD player it put out the most convincing percussion work.
Drums, cymbals, etc. had the impact, shimmer and air of the real thing. Oud, bass and bass clarinet never sounded so real. I see why Tony was absent from the audio scene for the last 4 years as he’s been very busy designing and building his new driver. What it has over the PHY drivers he used to use has to be heard to be believed. I still need to hear more complex music through them but I think it would pass the muster, easily.

Spatial Audio Hologram speakers had me at first listen. Open, clear and very realistic from on high to down low enough for me. I can see why they are now selling more of these than any other speaker under $5K.

Purist Audio Design speakers and I can’t remember what they were fronted with.
Remarkable sound without any grandstanding, like the Evoultion Acoustics.

Legacy V speakers fronted by Raven tube gear.
As big as the room was, it still needed more room but for as large as they were, they only played what was called for without bombast. There was one track with multiple drums playing and I could hear each and every one. Seriously good sound. Seriously priced as well.

Ryan speakers fronted by Auralic gear.
Although "mid level", I could easily live with this set up, and I’m talking about the R630 speaker, not their top of the line model. Some of the easiest listening I’ve done. Also, the wireless streaming bettered the TT by more than a fair margin. Auralic is really onto something. They now offer up to 2TB in their streamer and buffers it with the volume being done in the analog domain so there’s no decimating the signal.

The PBN Liberty speakers (again, forgot the gear) made for the most convincing live jazz club sound I’ve heard.
I’ve never heard a TT sound so alive with so much air. Mostly, they convey oddles of midrange warmth and seduce but this set up rang my bell. When seated in front, the band was directly behind the speakers.

Last but not least, was the Audionote UK room on the 14th floor. From the hallway with the door ajar (they all had towels wrapped around the arm locks so to muffle the noise of closing) I thought it was one of the most "live" sounds I heard. As I backed my way in, slowly closing the door so as to not disturb, it just sounded all the more real. When I turned around, there was cellist Vincent Belander playing counter point to whatever was playing on the Audionote system. Easily worth the price of admission and the drive.

There’s more but I can’t remember all of them right now and I’ll forgo the ones that left me scratching my head as I don’t want to offend anyone here but it really both amazes and dismays what I read about certain gear and what I hear for myself. To thine own ears be true.

All the best,

I thought the HR4 speakers from OceanWave was very interesting. Only $6k, including built-in bi-amp modules. Very lifelike, great imaging especially for small room, near-field listening. Great value.

I went this year with checking out certain vendors in mind. In retrospect, I'm not sure it was the best idea, but its done now. I think, for me anyway, this year was much less spectacular. I heard very few systems that did anything for me. But let me describe for you the few that did.

I was waiting at the Mbl room at opening. They played some great music, most of which I was not familiar with. But the system sounded absolutely wonderful with the 101 E MK II speaker played through the new Nobel Line mono blocks, Mbl's big preamp and either their DAC or an RTR. The sound was very open, lively, deep, and convincing. I returned again around 4:30 PM for another extended listen of about an hour and it only sounded better to me. If finance weren't an issue, I'd have an all-Mbl system. For me, they are always tops each year and supremely musical.

The Magnepan room was fun with it's three-channel presentation using the three of the MMG panels. I don't particularly like the scheduled demo way of presenting the speakers, but it is what it is.

I also got to sit in the sweet spot in the Sanders room. Next to all others, only the Mbl room was better to me. I really like ESL speakers (I have MartinLogan Vantages) and the Sanders just sung. Excellent extension and great bass response as well. And that beautiful midrange that ESLs are known for. I'm not super hot on the 70s look but the sound really is very nice. I could easily live with Sanders Sound for sure. I recall also liking them much in previous years of attending THE Show.

Gamut. That was a nice room with speakers, amp, and preamp all by Gamut. Didn't notice the maker of the TT, but the sound was very nice. The TT was very quite on the three or so tracks I heard and all were from different records. For stand mounts, the speakers were nice and full and I liked the lively musical presentation.

THE Show was more spread out this year and just seemed like the general vibe on Saturday was down from previous years. Really, I think, it is better to have two days to go so you can slow down a bit and try to see more vendors. Again, not as much fun this year as in previous years but I had to go it alone when the person I was to attend with had to stay home to take care of a domestic duty. He did get to go the previous day but he seemed to have a similar take on the vibe as well. There were a ton of reviewers in attendance and I had to give up my spot for two or three of them. In the end, I hope that benefited the vendor. Business is business.

On a side note, I looked and asked for the new Wilson Audio Sabrina's but they apparently weren't being shown. I really liked them last year with D'Agostino/Bricasti electronics; that was a very satisfying musical setup. I was hoping to have some comments to contribute to rinpoche but alas, only the larger Sasha was being demoed.

In the end, what room a vendor is given and the skill at which they have to setup their gear properly in that room, and of course the quality of the media they play, will all determine the overall quality of their sound. I can only imagine that some of the other rooms I heard, but weren't so impressed with, could have sounded better if they were able to get more of these critical factors right.

Pokey 77 said
"In a side note, I looked and asked for the new Wilson Audio Sabrina's but they apparently weren't being shown."

Sabrinas were used in the Peachtree room on the 11th floor.  Peachtree featured two integrated amps/dacs:  one for $1,500  and one for $2,000. The speakers on the lower priced model were the new $500 Elac bookshelf speaker, and the speakers on the higher price model were the Sabrinas.
Best sound I heard, I did not expect...

It was in a closet of a room with an apathetic rep streaming requests through Tidal, in the Mark Levinson/JBL room.  Pair of JBL K2 s9900, with tidal streaming a mix of all kinds of music.

Absolutely blew my mind.

Went into every room at the show on Friday.  Alexandria's, German Physiks, and the Magicos were very impressive, but the JBL's made music sound...and feel, like an event that filled the room with orgasmic living joy.

My dad and I tried leaving that room for 20 minutes, but every time we tried, a new song came on, and we ended up being blown away all over again.  Could not find one thing they did badly. Wide variety of music on demand, and it not only aced all of made all of it sound better than I had ever heard it.  I have never heard music sound so impressively gigantic, dynamic, and positively engaging. I wanted to walk out with them.

I was almost relieved when they told me they cost 55000 dollars.  
My first time at this show and definitely the biggest. Most of the rooms made me feel pretty happy with my own set up at home. I'm sure I did not get to every room but of what I did see there were a few stand outs. As the OP stated the Tonian Labs speakers left an impression that was just stuck in my head. The drum track I listened to was so real I could I swear I was standing on the stage next to the drum kit. I've never heard anything sound like this and his components looked like mid-fi stuff. Biggest complaint, could have had a little more variety of music.

As stated by another poster, the Gamut speakers and gear were a stand out for me. I loved this sound.

I am a fan of radial or omni designs but I had never before heard the German Physiks Carbon MK4 speakers and they were easily the best radials I've ever heard. Better to me than the more expensive MBL speakers. These radials make mine sound broken. They were using Merrill Audio gear and VPI turntable.

See you guys at CAF