The first stop on the second floor was the Avatar Acoustic room. The room was at huge at least 32' x 50', but there was only ONE set of the Ascendo System M speakers in there.

These Ascendo speakers were both visually interesting, and sonically imposing. There are very few home audio speakers that can fill a space this large, but I got the feeling that these speakers were not even breathing hard. The ribbon tweeter they used was as detailed as I've ever heard, and the powerful enclosed woofer with some kind of exotic bandpass port matched the midrange remarkably well. A feature I liked was the adjustable tweeter position that makes it possibly to exactly time-align these speakers depending on seating distance. I can see where that would make a lot of sense since I wouldn't even dream of putting these speakers in any normal size room! The dealer said that these were his OWN speakers, and I wished him good luck, I'd be really nervous if it was my 35k babies out there for everyone to paw over!

The next room I looked at was Paradigm, but they had not opened yet, so I went next door to the Lamm Industries room. Lamm is a manufacturer based not far from me in Brooklyn. Mr. Lamm was not in yet, but the lovely Elana Lamm was. My apologies to the very pretty Elana Lamm for this bad PIC of her.

She graciously let me look at the components they had brought. The impression that I got from my first look at Lamm equipment is that Mr. Lamm, although a manufacturer of fine audio components, could have easily been a designer of military avionics. Everything you see in a Lamm product has a purpose. The Mil-spec quality of the components, the overbuilt feel of everything, even the no-frill look speak to a mindset that is in keeping with the military avionics industry, one I am familiar with.

I doubt you'll see burlwood, or pretty heat sinks with their name extruded on the components here. This is not to mean the equipment doesn't looks great, only that it's quite obvious that Mr. Lamm designs components with function in mind.

The Lamm setup was unique in the show in that it used a vintage, and rare speaker.

The Vitavox CN909 is a horn loaded, corner placed speaker with a beautiful woodgrain finish. The sound from these speakers was very warm and sweet, and suited the Lamm tube amps well. I even got to hear some vintage opera music through them!

It was getting on about noon now, so I decided to take a trip up to the upper floors where the smaller rooms, but no less interesting dealers were. The place was pretty busy by now, and the halls were full of people either talking about what the've just heard, or heading to another room. I took a quick right out of the elevator and immediately ran into a trio of speakers that I really wanted to listen to. VonSchweikert had taken THREE rooms to show off their speakers. They had the VR-4jr, VR-4sr, and the take-no-prisoners VR-9se speakers set up in adjacent rooms. Of course I had to spend some time with all three.

The VR4-jr is a speaker that I almost owned last year.

After hearing the VR-4jr set up, I can tell you that I STILL might get this speaker eventually. Crisp, clean, and dynamic, I really can't say enough about it in this short review. I didn't get a chance to push them, but my guess it could easily be all anyone could ever need in a normal sized room. Next stop was the VR-4sr. These speakers look exactly as it's SR designation sounds; VR-4jr's all grown up.

The sound from them was not very much different than the VR-4Jr's, although I did get the feeling that they really needed a larger room to develop their full character. Both the VR-4jr, and VR-4sr were beautifully finished, and would easily fit in almost any decor. The VR-9se was a beast of an entierly differnt nature.

These are a huge floorstanding speaker that boast 400 kilos of the latest in audio technology; A ribbon tweeter fore and aft, exotic composite midrange, and a complex transmission line loading for the a 15" self powered woofer. Rated at 95db @ 1 watt, these behemoths could be powered by a fleawatt SET, but they had them hooked up to twin massive DarTZeel amps. The source was no slouch either, as their setup had the only DAT master tape recorder that I saw in the whole show.

I got to hear these incredible speakers playing the master tapes, and it sounded darn good indeed. I commented to the VS guys that I had just heard the world largest nearfield monitors, and I didn't get much of a smile from them. It was obvious to everyone that these speakers belonged in a MUCH larger room.

Continued in part 3;