Koetsu Usa (Venetian 30-117)


In the 2010 Audio Olympics the Italian team placed well. Koetsu Usa is the U.S. distributor for the products in this all-Italian room. The speakers were the attractive floor-standing Volterra model ($11,950) by rosso fiorentino electroacoustics. Electronics were all manufactured by AKAMAI S.r.l. and included the Blacknote CDP 300 tube CD player ($4150), DSS 30 Tube Digital Static Streamer ($4992), and DSA 150 Class D amplifier ($6658). Products in the room shared more than their heritage. System synergies were obvious and resulted in an open and natural presentation.

Morel (Venetian 30-103)


The Morel Fat Lady speaker ($32,000) is a ported bass reflex design constructed from a carbon fiber composite. The empty cabinet has no internal damping and is designed to vibrate with the driver units much like the body of a stringed instrument. This unusual approach to speaker building produced excellent sound both on and off axis.

Other equipment in use included the Moon SuperNova CD player ($5,500), a Lindemann 882 integrated amplifier ($16,700), and a Cambre Core rack. Cables were Nordost Tyr interconnects and Valhalla speaker cable.

The Lotus Group (Venetian 30-319)


Well-done open baffle designs combine the dynamics of cones and the openness of panels or electrostatic speakers. The beautiful Granada speakers ($125,000) designed and built by The Lotus Group feature Feastrex field-coil drivers and a DSP crossover for active bi-amplification. The baffle is machined from a 3” slab of Finnish birch plywood and covered with the owner’s choice of veneers.

Amplification was provided by a pair of Pass Labs XA 30.5 30Wpc Class A stereo amplifiers ($5500 each). The digital source was a Hanns Acoustics CD-20 CD player ($2200). The preamplifier was a Balanced Audio Technology VK-3iX. Other products distributed by The Lotus Group were in prominent use in the room including PranaWire and Acoustic Revive.

Chang Lightspeed Audio/Chateau Research/Uniwave Tek (T.H.E. SHOW 4014)

Chateau Reference Monitors have been in production since 1990. Disappointed with the electronics available to drive their speakers, the designers spent more than five years developing a high-power (1000Wpc at 4 ohms), high-bandwidth (250KHz) stereo amplifier. The resulting Uniwave ANACO amplifier ($6800) is a two-box design with the switching power supply in a separate chassis. A companion product, the Uniwave ANACO preamplifier ($4800) was also developed. The synergy between these products worked very well and the monitors literally disappeared. The source was an Esoteric DV-50.

Muse Electronics (Venetian 29-119)


I heard various Avalon Acoustics speakers in several rooms but the Muse Electronics room was my favorite. That room featured the diminutive and uniquely shaped Avalon Acoustics Aspect model ($8499) which seemed to disappear more readily than its larger kin. Muse components are modular and allow users to configure them to suit their needs. In use were the Erato II CD, DVD-A/V platform configured as a CD player only ($5750) and the Model Two Hundred modular amplification platform ($5250 as configured).

Avantegarde Acoustic GmbH (Venetian 30-324)


This attractive model, the Duo G2 ($23,000), is available in a variety of colors and trim options. Their performance was as captivating as their appearance. Sometimes I find horns to be in my face and annoying but the dynamic balance in this room was excellent and made me wish I had more time to visit. The source was an Audio Aero LaSource CD player. Amplification was an Avantegarde Model 3 integrated.

Truextent/Brush Wellman Electrofusion Products
(T.H.E. SHOW Marketplace)


Seeing the Brush Wellman booth at T.H.E. Show really caught my attention in two ways. First, I have always wondered what the engineering theory was behind the various tweeter materials in common usage. Second, the Brush Wellman name put my brain in fast rewind mode. But first lets examine the rationale for using beryllium, a somewhat rare metal that is toxic in powder form.

Truextent SSX is the registered trademark for pure beryllium voice coils manufactured by Brush Wellman Electrofusion Products located in Fremont, California. The trademark is to distinguish their products from other, so-called beryllium products which are either low-percentage beryllium or beryllium crystals deposited on another substrate and subject to failure by separation. The voice coils are manufactured both for the OEM market and as replacement voice coil diaphragms for brands including JBL and Radian. The hot-formed domes are supplied already bonded to pure aluminum edge wound voice coils to facilitate final driver assembly.

Brush Wellman claims that pure beryllium has the highest stiffness to density ratio of all commercial dome materials. The low moving mass improves responsiveness while the rigidity eliminates the “breakup” of traditional dome materials due to deformation at their resonant frequencies. In addition, the wide frequency response of their 4” domes (500Hz-20KHz) allows the crossover point to be moved out of the critical listening range.

Now I will share my flashback. In the early 1970’s as a scientist with the newly-formed Ohio Environmental Protection Agency one of the companies I inspected and monitored for wastewater discharges was an obscure Brush Wellman beryllium factory near the Village of Elmore, Ohio. If my memory serves me correctly (frequently it doesn’t) the facility was the only active (or one of just a couple) smelter for beryllium in the country. Decades later I find myself half a continent away and a short drive from their Electrofusion Products division that makes products which were not even dreamed of back in the days of Advent and KLH. Likewise back then I never envisioned my transition from a passionate Young Turk in the environmental movement to a wizened, grayed, retiree enjoying a different passion. “Lately it occurs to me what a long, strange trip it’s been.”