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 Harold Cooper of Sound Consultants

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hcooper99

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PostSubject: Re: Harold Cooper of Sound Consultants   Mon May 02, 2016 11:33 pm





























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PostSubject: Re: Harold Cooper of Sound Consultants   Mon Jun 27, 2016 4:17 pm

Here's the Newport show report from Coop. To see the daily coverage from the beginning you can visit http://tuneland.techno-zone.net/t369-t-h-e-show-newport-2016 . Happy reading study



I attended this show in Irvine, CA from June 3-5.  This is the first such show since the passing of Richard Beers, the guy who started it all.  His assistant Maurice Jung has taken the reins and per a conversation I had with him in the hall, plans to keep it going as long as humanly possible.  He feels the Hotel Irvine is no longer a large enough venue, but he wants to keep it in the same general area, so it may be in a different hotel next year.  With over 10K attendees and over 400 exhibitors there was way too much to see in 3 days!


Richard Beers

In addition to audio, there was a custom car show and a live music venue that were all part of the total package.  Speaking of live music, I was lucky enough to run into Larry Mitchell in the hotel lobby on the first day.  You may remember him as the very talented and tasteful guitarist I met at the AXPONA show.  He remembered me and I caught his live one-hour show on Friday afternoon (he was playing all 3 days).  This guy is truly amazing on both electric and acoustic guitar so please make sure you check him out at http://www.larrymitchell.com.  I talked to him after the show and found out how he gets the full band sound when he is the only one on stage.  He has a small recording studio in his home and he plays all the background instruments including percussion and lays down the tracks at 24/96.  He then downloads all of his songs onto a high resolution Sony digital Walkman!  The Walkman is connected into the PA mix and he selects a song from the Walkman on stage and lays down the lead over the top of the background tracks.  I guess you could call that a live overdub!  It definitely sounds like a full band on stage – very cool!



Now on to the audio part of the show!  I made it to very many of the listening rooms and tried to do at least a bit of listening in each one, but I was totally on the fast track.  I was taking pictures, talking with old friends and making new ones, so I didn’t spend too much time in many rooms.  I did spend enough time in some rooms to have some comments and bestow my own post show “awards” later in this report.  I can say without hesitation that no one has a clue when it comes to getting the soundstage to go outside the speaker boundaries – same standard audiophile presentation in every room – soundstage locked in between the speakers.  Come on guys – it’s not that hard!  I make it happen in my little shitty basement corner downstairs with minimal tweaks.  An exception - Klaus Bunge of Odyssey always has a very nice sounding room – he brings the same traveling setup to every show and makes it work.  Klaus has learned a lot (with some help from Michael along the way) as his rooms used to sound terrible!

The trend at the Newport Show was the same as I saw at AXPONA – nearly everyone was streaming music (primarily over USB) to an all-in-one unit.  Just hook up your streaming source (laptop, server, etc.) to one box containing the DAC and integrated amp (and in some cases MUCH more) to a pair of speakers and you’re done!  There were a few CD players and more turntables, but if you want to hear your music at one of these shows now you better bring it on a thumb drive!

Other trends – some of the all in one units now incorporate Tidal(if you don’t already have the app, download it now!).   http://tidal.com/us For $29.95 per month for the premium service you get access to about a million tracks of high-resolution audio for streaming.  How’s that for expanding your music library? If you listen a lot it’s more than worth the price of admission.  You can search for anything - select genres, artists, even selected play lists.  Have the future in your hands for a very small price.  Some of the servers also now incorporate the Roonmusic organization application and many of the laptops were using it as well.   https://roonlabs.com/   It seems that Roon has become THE way to organize your digital music.

An interesting observation – I saw more horns and more single driver systems at Newport then I can ever remember seeing at a show before.  These are both pretty narrow markets in my opinion.  Horns are the king of efficiency and when done right can have amazing clarity and sweetness, but when done wrong become ear bleeders!  Also, they are normally HUGE!  Not for me in my small listening space.  

Single driver systems have come a long way and for us minimalists there is nothing more minimalist that a single full range driver with no crossover!  The famous Lowther drivers have always been known for producing wonderful midrange but little else (I have heard that for myself on the few occasions I have listened to them), but the new single drivers have taken advantage of technology and are now quite capable.  On the smaller full range drivers you will probably need a sub to get the low bass, but the remaining frequencies are covered quite well with a clarity and musical quality that screams, “see what your crossover does to the sound”.  I’m not sold yet but Michael and I tend to try prototyping some full range driver speakers and see how we like the results.

Most notable of the single driver systems was Voxativfrom Germany.


http://www.voxativ.com/en/loudspeakers/  

Also Tonian with proprietary drivers made in southern CA.  Tonian seems to be a fairly new company (new to meany way) and they were showing their “only current product” which had a single full range driver in the middle of the floor standing cabinet and a ribbon super tweeter.  These sounded very full range and looked great too – hope they're at the show next year so I can spend more time with them.


http://www.tonianlabs.com/

There was also a very cool DIY single driver speaker that was sitting in a booth in The Marketplace (far from an ideal spot) but it was sounding very musical and producing real bass.  I’ll have more on that later.

The other possible “trend” I heard in several room was lamenting the fact that we got stuck with USB as the interface.  Obviously it’s very compromised – it was never meant for high quality transmission plus it carries power to boot.  Not a high-end audio quality interface by far.  The most likely thing to replace it – Ethernet cables using CAT 5 cable and RJ45 connectors.  Intended for much higher data transfer speeds and no power present.  So, look for likely Ethernet interfaces on the next generation DAC’s, servers, and all-in-one units.  Plus the cables are lightweight and cheap!



Now it’s time for the Coop Awards!  You won’t find these awards in any of the major (or minor) audio rags, but I felt it worthwhile to create some new categories to best summarize my parting shots.



Best Hands Down Bargain of All – new ELACspeakers by Andrew Jones.



 http://elac.com/product-category/passive/uni-fi/ You could barely even stick your nose in this room – it was always packed and everyone was talking about it.  I did manage to get a seat in the room at one point so I can confirm without a doubt that the ELAC Uni-Fi UF5 floor standers at $999 per pair are amazing!  Followed very closely by the bookshelf Uni-Fi UB5 at $499 per pair (the top two drivers in the floor standing cabinet in a bookshelf).  These speakers kick some serious ass regardless of the price!  Sure it’s an MDF cabinet only available in a black vinyl wrap, but if you get a pair of either of these you will be very happy – also available most everywhere on line.





Best Overall Bang for the Buck System – the ELAC Uni-Fi UF5 bookshelf speakers with the Peachtree Audio nova150.   http://www.peachtreeaudio.com/nova150-amplifier-with-dac.html   Total retail price $2000!  This was a totally awesome sounding true desert island system.





Best DIY Speaker – Single driver system from VK Music in Canada (info@vkmusic.ca).  This single driver horn loaded system was producing wonderful sound and very believable bass standing on a table in The Marketplace, a terrible place to judge anything.  The drivers are made in Germany.  He sells the drivers and can provide plans for the cabinet or sell you a DIY kit.  His main business is importing tube amplifier kits from Japan.









Coolest Room – NFS Audio (Nothing For Sale!)  This was like a psychedelic trip back to the 70’s!  Two guys who have been getting a room at this show for many years for no reason other than to have fun.  They bring their own gear, play what they want, hand out free drinks (I had red wine), bathe the rooms with laser light shows, and just have a good time!  Here’s a selfie with one of the room hosts:









Most Outrageously Priced System – The Dartzeel/Evolution Acoustics room.  Cool looking red electronics and speakers that all together would run you a cool $500K+!









Most Complete All In One Unit – The AVM Evolution CS 5.2.   http://www.avm-audio.com/products/evolution/evolution-cs-52.html  This unit has EVERYTHING and I do mean everything!  Multiple digital inputs, streaming, MM/MC phono input, CD player, embedded Tidal application, 2x330W amps, web radio, LAN support, server support, has it’s own smartphone remote control app, and on and on!  This unit is also gorgeous to look at.  Made in Germany and now imported by one of my favorite guys in all of high-end audio – Arturo Manzano of Axiss Audio.  If you want one unit that will do it all and pretty much drive any speaker to boot, this is it.





Audio Assembly Puzzle Winner – Also the AVM Evolution CS 5.2.  There is not a screw head or any type of fastener to be seen anywhere on the chassis.  It’s as though it somehow magically snaps together!  The Germans have always been assembly marvels and that comes out in spades in this product, leaving me saying, “How the heck do those crafty Krauts put this together let alone take it apart?” I suspect there are some virtually hidden pins that can be tapped out or?





Most Digital Knowledge in One Room – This was the room by Bricasti Design.  http://bricasti.com/  Manned by a recording engineer and a digital design wizard who came from Mark Levinson – if you had any question regarding digital recording, reproduction, ripping CD’s or vinyl, storage, playback, sampling rates, jitter, or anything else in this realm, these guys knew the answer and could back it up with technical knowledge and experience.  One word of caution however – if you wander into their room and ask a question, be prepared for a lengthy answer that is like drinking from a fire hose!  So much information will flow your brain can barely keep up.  Very nice and cordial guys, and their M1 DAC http://www.musicalfidelity.com/m1dac/  is without a doubt the best I have heard!  Very smooth, wonderfully analog sounding, and very tweakable.  The tip I took away from this room is how important it is to have the cleanest DC power possible feeding your laptop while streaming music.  The standard wall-warts or variations thereof are very bad – very noisy.  Replace them with a lab grade bench top regulated DC power supply and improve your sound!  They were using one purchased from Mouser Electronics on their laptop, but for pricing I would get one from Amazon like this one.  I would go with the switching supply rather than the linear for more efficiency and less heat, and with the low current draw the fan will never turn on!





Most Awesome Looking Turntable –



PBN Groove Master Vintage Direct from PBN audio (the speaker company!).  Beautiful to behold, this baby is made with a custom wood combination of your choosing plus an arm of your choosing and uses a rebuilt Denon direct drive turntable for the guts – hence the “vintage direct” name.  I was drooling over this thing – I want one! http://www.pbnaudio.com/audio-components/audio-turntables/groovemaster





Best Preserved Audio Icon – None other than the man, the myth, the legend Roger Modjeski!   http://ramlabs-musicreference.com/  World-renowned tube guru and designer of the legendary Music Reference tube amps and purveyor of RAM tubes.  Roger is truly a genius designer – designer of the first real world OTL tube amp, the Counterpoint SA-4.  Also his Music Reference amps have a sterling reliability reputation and they are a mature design when he releases them – he makes the exact same product for many years - no new versions or upgrades until he eventually releases a new product years down the road.  Roger is one hell of a nice guy and enjoys discussions about anything tube!  He was filling my ears with all the intimate details of his new electrostatic speakers and subwoofers all designed from the ground up.  Again like drinking from a fire hose, most of it went by me!  But it all sounded very good, driven by a collection of Music Reference amps.

Here I am with the well-preserved legend next to his new speaker system + more.  


http://ramlabs-musicreference.com/







Best Roll Your Own Systems–This one is a tie between the Roger Modjeski system above and one from Sanders Sound Systems http://www.sanderssoundsystems.com/  .  Roger Sanders (no relation to Gayle of Martin Logan) is the designer of the curved electrostatic panel made famous on the Martin Logan CLS.  He has now designed his own electrostatic speakers with built in subwoofer and also makes the amps that were driving his speakers.  He also makes the speaker cables.  The Sanders system sounded very open and dynamic and refreshingly spacious compared to many other rooms.



Well that’s my report!  Hope you enjoyed my new categories as much as I enjoyed inventing them.  I’ll be looking forward to heading back to Richard Beers legacy show next year!
Please post to the Sound Consultant thread on the forum or send an email to harold@michaelgreenaudio.com if you have an questions or comments for me.

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PostSubject: Re: Harold Cooper of Sound Consultants   Sat Oct 01, 2016 5:30 pm



Here are some pics you guys might enjoy, including the 3 string cigar box guitar




poster from "the day the music died" concert, old recording studio gear including Wollensack recorder, and a working Wurlitzer juke box playing 45's from back in the day.


 

We had a lot of fun with the juke box, and they had a lot of interesting stuff there for a tiny place.  They celebrate Buddy Holly's birthday here every October with free birthday cake to all who attend.




Pretty cool small town Iowa place!
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