Life got really busy with Post-Show business and I never got a chance to finish this post. Now in shutdown-land, I have a chance to put my thoughts together and finish this up!
Tampa is in our rearview, it’s a week later, and we are still unpacking! When will it end!?
We do the Florida show in a big way… it’s our home-state, and home to House Of Stereo, a fifty year old HiFi shop that we purchased late in 2018 rather than see it close. Jacksonville Florida has several shops, but only one with a HiFi lineage stretching back to the 60’s, where turntables outnumber the listening rooms, and where serious Hi-Fi practitioners will feel right at home. It also gives Wolf a place to demonstrate our capabilities in real-world environments and reach a wider customer base in our own backyard. It also gives a much cooler site for Wolf friends to visit than our old manufacturing site.
Wolf was in seven rooms this year, partnering with iconic older brands and newcomers alike. Speaking of newcomers, we had the pleasure of initiating a couple of new guys into the industry. Waylon, Will and Wes (yea, we know) are three guys who work with us at Wolf and House Of Stereo, and the Florida Audio Expo was their first show. Waylon has a long history being a Hi-Fi enthusiast, while Wes and Will are both College-age guys getting their feet wet. This was their first opportunity to meet a lot of the guys behind the brands and technologies that are the backbone of modern Hi-Fi, and it was especially cool to see an Audio Show through their eyes. In addition, our Alpha 3 SX loomed large. We were fresh back from a trip out to Port Townshend, Washington to deliver an SX to Jason Serinus of Stereophile and we knew the results were good, despite his reticence to divulge his thoughts. We heard it, and it sounded damn good in his system. So we came back home, built another batch and got them ready for Florida, deciding to focus our energies (and ears) on the Alpha 3 SX for all the rooms at the show.
Room 716 – Paradigm, Anthem, Clarus Cable, Maximum AV
The Paradigm/Anthem rooms are always a favorite partner for us. Paradigm and Anthem are some of the best technology Canada has to offer in A/V, and EVERY time, their room sounds awesome. Having a Wolf providing the tunes really lets the Anthem Processor shine. The Anthem AV STR Preamplifier and STR Power Amp at 400w driving the Paradigm Persona 7f reminds me of what I enjoy about Beryllium tweeters. A speed, accuracy and realism that has excited me since I first heard the Persona line at NYAS 2016. Andy of Maximum AV and Joey Perfito of Anthem/Paradigm are great guys and it was truly a pleasure to work with them.
Room 808 – Bob Carver, WireWorld, House Of Stereo
Back at AXPONA 17 or 18 we received a 9:00AM wake-up knock from the Carver guys who battled a laptop all night trying to get sound. When that didn’t work, they thought we could help. We delivered a Wolf, and they had a great show. Fast-forward a few years, and if there is a show with a Carver presence, a Wolf will be there as well. In this case, we paired the Amazing Line Source (ALS) with a Bel Canto Black EX Pre/DAC, a VPI Bespoke Prime and the Crimson 350 Monoblocks (and the Carver 275, a 75w stereo amp. You just don’t expect what the ALS delivers. It reminds me of the larger Maggies, a giant soundstage and lack of coloration or definable signature – it’s just the music. In addition to that, we love Frank, Bob and Jordon and worked with them to make a fantastic sounding room with the Carver Crimson 350 monoblocks, the Amazing Line Source Speakers and WireWorld cabling to great effect. House Of Stereo is proud to carry Bob Carver Corp products. Also driving the room was Wireworld Cable, with David Salz and Larry Smith were in attendance for the show. David is a brilliant designer and business man, and Larry is one of the best Sales Managers we know in this industry. Their Silver Eclipse 8 interconnects and Silver Electra cables are easily highly recommended.
Room 809 – AudioShield, Emm Labs, van den Hul, Credo Audio of Switzerland, Falkenohr, VPI Industries
This was a really fun room. AudioShield Distribution is headed by our good friend John McGurk. He may be new-ish on the scene, but Audio Shield packs a cache of historic brands that should make any audiophile sit up and take notice. John is the East Coast rep for EMM Labs, the Van Den Hul cables and electronics distributor, as well as the Credo Distributor for North America. The kilowatt EMM Labs monoblocks drove the Credo Audio Reference One speakers to perfection. AV Showrooms was blown away as well as many of our reviewer friends and visiting show-goers. Credo Audio of Switzerland is a new brand to the USA, despite their 45+ year history over in Europe. The Kraske sons have brought Credo across the water and are already creating waves in the States. Their Reference One speakers are beautiful, a matte black that seem to fit in no matter where we put them. It’s worth noting that the smaller floorstanders and bookshelves in their lines have some of the most beautiful woodwork we’ve seen – but the Reference Ones are truly special. We’re not going to like seeing them go. On the digital side, EMM Labs paired with our Wolf is a beautiful thing. The DA2 and DV2 DACs surprised us this weekend when Ken Forsyth dropped by with a stick of MQA and showed us just how technically adept Meitner’s top end DACs can be. The DA2 performs the 1st and 2nd unpack of MQA content, meaning that Roon, JRiver, Audirvana, the software is irrelevant – the DAC handles it all. It even has an display icon that lights up when an MQA Studio Master track is played. Couple that with the news out this past week that the DAC supports DSD1024 and Wolf Audio Systems has an excellent partner in EMM Labs. Also in the room was the HW-40 and Van Den Hul’s Grail SE+ Phonostage and Crimson Stradivarius cartridge. The realism and naturalness of the analog section was just breathtaking. We work with digital everyday, but analog is still a big part of our lives. Check out the AVShowrooms Video!
Room 916 – ModWright Electronics, Eggleston Works Speakers, T+A DAC, WyWires –
ModWright is a name that commands respect in the audio community, and when we had the chance to work with Dan at Florida, we jumped! Dan’s 225i Integrated Amplifier, paired with his PH 9.0 Phono and a VPI HW-40 turntable with VPI Shyla Cartridge rounded out the Analog section, while the Alpha 3 SX paired with a T+A SDV 3100 HV Reference DAC drove the digital.
Driving the room was a very special Eggleston Works speaker, one we had here in Jacksonville for a couple weeks prior to the show and so badly wanted to talk about, but couldn’t! We had to save the news for Tampa debut, and it was absolutely worth it… The Eggleston Oso’s were an absolute hit. Dan’s 225i integrated drove the Oso’s to perfection, making room 916 one of the best sounding rooms in the show, hands down – but don’t listen to us, listen to the review sites:
Room 1009 – Linear Tube Audio, MC AudioTech
Linear Tube Audio played a part in our entry into the industry. We’d sold a handful of servers and were making our way to shops around the East Coast before we dropped in on Mark in D.C. when we were looking for a new amp for home. As soon as he pulled a laptop out to play some music, we saw an opportunity, and so did he. Fast forward 4 years and we work with Linear Tube Audio whenever we get a chance.
MC AudioTech is a firm that we met through The Cable Company. Mark needed a server that would reliably deliver audio at home and on the road, and the Wolf was their recommendation. We’ve had the chance to get to know Mark and Paul and love their speakers. Paired with LTA, they sound amazing! High efficiency systems are something I grew up with, and my father keeps coming back to as he upgrades components. Every time we get in a room with LTA’s gear, the horn discussions start up again and I can see him calculating his new system.
Third time’s the charm!
After a successful 2nd year, the Florida Audio Expo is a force on the scene that will continue to grow. It’s fun, it’s warm and the rooms sound good. Even if they move to accommodate a larger audience in the years to come, we are confident that Bart Andeer, with his extension experience in room acoustics will pick a venue as good or better than this one. If you haven’t been yet, make plans to go next year. Again, it is warm, and it is February. We spent off-hours swimming with the kids, taking leisurely strolls (outdoors) and hanging with good friends. Where else can you do that in February and be part of a growing show with great energy? Join us!