The Home Entertainment Show or as we all know it T.H.E. Show is one of the longest running HiFi shows and was the first to return after COVID. T.H.E. Show 2023 was the best attended in several years and a good time was had by all. I think everyone agrees that the new site is a significant improvement over last year and more in keeping with times past, but unfortunately, Headphonium did not happen this year despite erroneous promotion of it, but regardless a few of our stalwart personal audio friends did show up.
Schiit Audio took a minimalist approach this year showing their new Schiit Audio Syn Universal Surround DAC/Preamp/Headphone Amp ($399) and the soon-to-be-released Schiit Audio URD CD Transport (TBA) running through a Schiit Audio Bifrost True Multibit™ Autonomy™ DAC ($799) playing through JBL 4305P Studio Monitor Powered Bookshelf Loudspeaker Systems ($2,200/pr).
Focal/Naim was represented by AV Luxury Group, a Las Vegas based retailer and sister company to AV Luxury Group International. A selection of Focal’s epic headphones was on a shelf with a couple of Naim Uniti Atom Headphone Edition Streaming DAC/Headphone Amplifiers ($3,799) including the new Focal Utopia 2022 ($4,999).
On display in their main system were the Focal Scala Utopia Evo Loudspeakers ($26,499/ea) being driven by a Naim NSC 222 Streaming Preamplifier ($8,999) and a pair of Naim NAP 350 Monoblocks ($8,499/ea).
A secondary system consisting of Focal Aria 926 Loudspeakers ($2,399/ea) driven by a Naim Uniti Nova Streaming Integrated Amplifier ($6,899).
And on static display were the new Focal Theva N°3 Floorstanding Loudspeakers ($2,398/pr), Focal Theva N°3-D Floorstanding Loudspeakers ($2,998/pr), Focal Theva N°2 Floorstanding Loudspeakers ($1,798/pr), Focal Theva N°1 Bookshelf Loudspeakers ($998/pr) and Focal Theva Center ($649/ea).
Jeff Wells was on hand with the production version of his new Wells Audio Gruve DAC in both the Level I ($800) and Level II ($1,500) versions running through the latest outboard power supply version of the Wells Audio Milo Headphone Amplifier ($3,300 for fully upgraded unit, base unit is $1,700).
Upscale Audio had a table in the Marketplace with a selection of their headphone products and three rooms on the second floor with two-channel loudspeaker setups. The hot ticket was a Felicks Audio Envy Headphone Amplifier ($7,995) driving a pair of HIFIMAN SUSVARA Planar Magnetic Headphones ($6,000), and an Aurender A20 Music Server/Streamer/MQA DAC/Headphone Amplifier($15,000) with a pair of Abyss Diana TC Headphones ($4,495).
What caught my eye (and ear) in their showrooms was a beautiful VPI Signature 21 Turntable ($10,250) with a Soundsmith Hyperion ES MKii Moving Iron Cartridge ($7,999) fronting a pair of Tannoy Kensington Loudspeakers ($9,895) and REL Acoustics S/812 Subwoofer ($3,299) fed from a PrimaLuna EVO 300 Hybrid Tube Integrated Amplifier ($7,295) with a PrimaLuna EVO 100 Tube Phonostage ($3,695) and PrimaLuna EVO 100 Tube DAC ($3,395) fed from a Lumin U2 Digital Transport ($5,000), all powered by an Audioquest Niagara 5000 Power Conditioner ($5,900) using Cardas Audio Cables throughout.
Another VPI Turntable to draw me in was the VPI Prime 21 Turntable ($5,500) and VPI Analog Drive System ($1,265) with a Hana Umami Blue Cartridge ($3,595) in use by Bob’s Devices to demo his tiny Step-Up Transformers, for playback through an Ele-kit Headphone Amplifier ($795 for the demo unit) to drive a pair of Audeze LCD-3 Headphones ($1,945). Bob’s Devices produces 5 models starting with the Bob’s Devices Mono Step-Up Transformer ($850 – not shown), the Bob’s Devices VPI Step-Up Transformer ($1,750), the Bob’s Devices Mono/Stereo Step-Up Transformer ($1,585), the Bob’s Devices Balanced Step-Up Transformer ($1,695), and the Bob’s Devices Sky Step-Up Transformer with RCA connectors ($1,250)
Awedyo Audio was on hand with their usual selection of direct import headphone amplifiers, DAPs, Headphone Cables, IEMs, and Headphones. They also had a selection of vinyl records and CDs. Taking center stage was the xDuoo Flagship TA-30 DAC/Tube Headphone Amplifier ($729).
Having seen his full presentation at FLAX I had to stop by the KirmussAudio booth for a glance at his ultrasonic record restoration system ($1,075)
AV Luxury Group International/Raidho/Margules/Scansonic HD/RSX/VOLT/WestminsterLab
Once again AV Luxury Group International made a splash hosting several rooms with their fantastic products. In their main room was a pair of $70,000 Raidho 3.2 Loudspeakers powered by WestminsterLab Rei Class A Monoblock Amplifiers ($32,900/pr) fed by a WestminsterLab Quest Preamplifier with full carbon isolation shield package ($24,000) and WestminsterLab Quest MM/MC option ($5,200). For analog there was an Ars Machinae M1 Turntable and Tonearm ($35,000) with an Ars Machinae Isolation Base and Finite Elemente footers ($2,750) sporting a Goldenberg Maestro Moving Coil Cartridge ($6,000), while on the digital side, there was a Berkeley Audio Design Alpha DAC Reference Series 3 DAC ($28,000) with a Berkeley Audio Design Alpha USB Re-clocker ($1,995) and an Aurender N30SA Music Server/Streamer ($25,000), and of course RSX Beyond Power Cords ($3,500). Margules was hosted by newcomer (to audio) Burbank, CA dealer Volt who wowed the show with their impressive lighting rigs. Longtime pro-audio lighting company Volt will be soon opening a new showroom in Burbank for midlevel to high-end audio.
That concludes part 1 of my coverage of T.H.E. Show 2023, stay tuned for part 2.