T.H.E. Show 2019: Wrap up and Final Highlights

This was another show that put the human back into high-fidelity for me. How? For starters it was the more approachable size of the venue and the fact that I connected with so many old friends and met so many new ones. This hobby is like that – when you make a friend they stick.

Also, everything went off without a hitch for me (and several other journalists I spoke with) because of the fun-loving and attention-to-detail oriented Director of Social Media and Marketing Emiko Carlin whose laughing and bubbly good nature was infectious to all who met her and who answered every email or text right away, giving answers to questions almost in real time.

Spread over several floors with a main bank of four elevators, getting around T.H.E. Show was never a problem (especially since I usually hit the top floor and take the staircase access down to avoid waiting on the milk-run of elevator tours), and while there was definitely a fair amount of time spent waiting to get a good seat in crowded rooms, I never felt put out or exasperated because it was easy enough to hit another room and circle back to the more popular ones.

Speaking of which, I wanted to touch on some of the standout rooms not previously mentioned by me, which included the Scott Walker room highlighting Gryphon gear and hosted by the affable and hat-wearing Philip O’Hanlon who always puts on a great show with an excellent choice of songs that showed off the breathtaking scale and impact of Gryphon's Scorpio S CD player ($9,900 USD – I limited my listening to the digital front), and their Antelion EVO amplifier ($39,500 USD) which was juicing Magico S5 MkII Speakers ($41,800 USD/pair).

Synergistic Research’s Galileo PowerCell SX power conditioner ($16,995 USD), Galileo SX cabling ($79,500 USD) was keeping current clean and everything connected and suppport was handled by Artesiana racks ($12,000 USD all-in).

Another stop always worthy of mention was the High Water Sound room put together by the wonderful Jeffrey Catalano which once again reminded me of the quiet beauty of vinyl playback – people always seem to take listening to LPs more seriously than digital at shows. I had the opportunity to hear the TW-Acustic Raven GT II Turntable ($10,000 USD) sporting two 12-inch TW arms ($6,000 USD each) with one dangling a Miyajima Labs Infinity Mono ($3,375 USD) and the other a Charisma Audio Signature One stereo cartridge ($3,800 USD).

Speakers were once again a take on Horning Hybrid Systems, this time the new Aristotle Ellipse PM65 Speakers ($18,000 USD/pair). Tube power was provided by a Tron-Electric Atlantic Integrated 300B SE amp ($18,000 USD) and Tron Convergence Signature Stereo ($3,250 USD) and Mono ($3,250 USD) Phono Preamps.

Scott Walker dominated my listening notes again with the tremendously impactful setup of a VAC/MSB/Magico system consisting of the no longer in production (but always impressive) VAC Statement 450 mono amplifiers ($90,000 USD/pair).

I listened to the digital front end which was handled with real guts and timbre thanks to the MSB Premiere DAC (Powerbase and Clock options $35,500 USD) being fed by an Aurender W20 server ($17,000 USD).

Loudspeakers were the bass-capable Magico M2 ($63,600 USD/pair), with Synergistic Research once again keeping the power clean via a PowerCell 12 UEF SE power conditioner ($6,495 USD).

Last, but certainly not least was the CAD (Computer Audio Design) room which held me rapt thanks to the sweet, organic sound of its R2R ladder DAC design. The setup here was built around the 1543 DAC ($12,000 USD) which utilizes a new old stock (NOS) DAC chip, along with the CAD Audio Transport server that features a streaming module, a CD ripper and SSD all for $14,000 USD.

Power was provided by the $7,000 USD Aesthetix Mimas and Boenicke W8 SE loudspeakers ($12,500 USD) rounded out the offerings. Look for an upcoming podcast with CAD designer/owner Scott Berry here on AudioStream.

With Southern California spoiling for a dominant show, I can only say that with the level of excellent presentations organized for this event along with an outstanding level of representation from not only West Coast bricks and mortar establishments, but national and international shops, distributors and manufacturers, T.H.E. Show seems poised to be the de facto Left Coast stop for those on the global hi-fi tour.