Came back a couple of hours ago. This year,the show was way smaller than the one in 2016 - last time I attended. But, interestingly, I liked it a bit more than the last time. Probably because this time I already knew what to listen for, having been somewhat seasoned as an audiophile over the last few years in the hobby. Going room by room, here are my brief impressions: Martin Logan big electrostatic speakers (two models heard in two different rooms): as my first time around, I absolutely loathed them - harsh and clinical mid/top, mushy and irresolute at the bottom. Couldn't get out of the room fast enough. The huge red ones were the worst - in salon A, driven by all Mark Levinson gear, the smaller black ones (models escape me) were only slightly more listenable, but still nothing to write home about. Again, the "room" argument may be invoked by some people, but let me assure you of this - there we no acoustically good rooms in that hotel - none. Some rooms did sound great though, others didn't, so I'm inclined to think gear/speakers mean more than the room. ESD Acoustics - an unknown Chinese brand that occupied two full salons , C and D. The humongous horn speakers the size of water buffalo sounded like a nothing burger - pretty lifeless in salon C. Their smallest speakers, 2-way monitors (judging by appearance), sounded better, actually, and could probably sound pretty good with some better gear/room/placement. Both salons were geared with their own electronics - multiple impressive-looking black boxes of unknown quality (probably decent enough). Overall - not impressed. Orinda Acoustics - can't even remember, so nothing to report, I guess. Pure Audio Project - a pair of big interesting-looking open baffle speakers driven by huge Pass Labs x-160 (exact model escapes me) amps. Full range driver in the middle and two big (at least 12", maybe 15) woofers top and bottom. Given the purportedly wonderful amps (I've never heard Pass gear before), I feel the speakers were the bottleneck of that system, as it was overall very average sounding. Not bad for sure, but certainly not as good as the looks of that system alone could make you hope for. I will not even count that experience as "having heard" Pass amps - I believe those speakers did not do the amps justice. Ohm Acoustics - WOW! I'd say the best sounding room for the money. Wonderful, full-bodied, 3-D sound with "meat on the bones" for really reasonable affordable prices. The pair playing was the Walsh 2000, driven by 30-year-old Carver SS gear - something that was still sold at local P.C. Richard stores in Brooklyn along the usual Onkyos and Denons back in the early 1990's. Decent hi-fi gear that didn't pretend to be high end even back then, but doing a commendable job driving those Walsh speakers. Quite a few people in that room, aside from myself, were making the same comment as I did - the speakers sounded way better than many other rooms, and at a small fraction of the others' prices. I cannot recommend them highly enough to anyone looking for an affordable pair of speakers with truly great sound. Polk Audio / Marantz room - another WOW! Polk were showcasing those new top of the line speakers with cross-talk cancelling technology array on top, driven by a full Marantz stack. Amazing power, detail, and clarity, with no audible distortion even at loud SPL. Color me impressed. Polk people advice pretty close placement: 6 to 8 feet apart, depending on the room, and no toe-in - they need to face the room straight, the array is angled to mimic toe-in, so any additional toe-in done by you will actually ruin the main effect of the speakers, i.e. cross-talk elimination. Laufer Teknik / Absolare: uber-expensive stuff that failed to impress. Laufer showcased a pair of stick-thin speakers, consisting of line array of 48 tweeters each that went to 85 Hz, from there being crossed over to an SVS powered sub. Driving them were Absolare hybrid tube/SS amps. There were better sounding rooms at the show for much less money. Value Electronics were showcasing mostly mid-level Technics gear, including speakers, and, of course, a couple of TT's. The mid-level gear, integrated amps, power amps, speakers, and all sounded very nice, considering they are practically bargains compared to most of the other gear present at the show. I will not spend much time describing the TT's, as plenty has been said about them on this forum. Suffice it to say that I liked the sound of 1200GR with 2M Black and din't like the sound of 1500C with the 2M Red - it was decidedly mid-fi. Luxman / Triangle room, a pair of Triangle Magellan speakers driven by a pair of Luxman something-88 model stereo amps bridged into mono. The Magellan speakers are lauded as legendary, but the bass on them sounded somewhat mushy to my ears. Overall sound was nice, but not too memorable, so I didn't linger in that room for too long. Sound by Singer (a veteran NYC audio dealer) had a Dr. Feickert turntable playing through a Swiss CH Precision amp driving Swiss Stenheim Alumina (number escapes me) speakers. Another WOW room - very refined, in a rather Nordic kind of way. The sound isn't lush or warm, as I usually prefer, yet very detailed and precise, without sounding harsh and clinical. Hard to explain, but it sounded as high-end as a fine Swiss watch. I'm in love with the Dr. Feickert turntable, by the way, and now I've got the upgrade itch again. Fidelis AV had a very fine Acoustic Signature TT spinning, and a pair of impressive-looking Einstein amps driving the Harbeth 40.2 speakers. Now, I heard the 40.2's for the first time back at the 2016 show. Back then they were in a much larger room (actually in one of the Salons occupied today by the unimpressive ESD Acoustics), and I was underwhelmed by the sound. This time, the room was much smaller, and I actually liked the sound of the 40.2's a lot more than I did last time. However, for the life of me, I do not like them as much as their formidable reputation would entail. I honestly liked the overall sound of the Ohm Walsh speakers a lot more than I liked the 40.2's. The Harbeths are more neutral, and are more detailed and nuanced, but not overall as musical or enjoyable as the Walsh. Either that, or I am simply a plebeian and can't appreciate truly patrician sound. Blink High End showcased some expensive gear, huge Aavik amps/preamps (anywhere from $30k to $96k), some Linn gear, a Technics SL-1000 TT (a new SP-10 with plinth and tonearm), and Spanish Kroma speakers. The sound was "good", but my feeling is the speakers were the bottleneck of the system, and it could have/should have sounded way better, given the level of the rest of the gear. Triode Wire Labs is a cable manufacturer, but in their room they showcased a Vinni Rossi integrated amp driving unknown to me QLN speakers from Sweden that looked spectacular and sounded surprisingly good for an obscure brand. I liked the overall combo a lot, even if it wasn't my favorite at the show. Alexus Audio / Bache Acoustics room. Two Russian-owned companies from Brooklyn. Alexus is owned by a college classmate of the legendary Vladimir Lamm (some of you may know Lamm amps). He was showcasing a pair of SET pure class A monoblock amps, with a single 300B tube for a driver and a pair of 845 tubes run in parallel for output, producing an astounding 70 WPC. They were driving mid-sized 3-way towers by Bache Acoustics, and the overall sound of the combo was great. Could easily be end game for me, if I were in the market, and I'm not just saying it because I'm also Russian - they really deserve high marks. Audio Note UK. After many battles and broken lances with @Richard Austen regarding AN UK, I could say the need to hear their room was one of the main reasons for me to attend the show this year. I spent some of the longest time in that room, fully intent to hear the "magic" so vividly promised by Richard. First off, I need to say that their music selection was sadly and appallingly limited to mostly boring stuff everyone else uses to present "audiophile" sound: some small scale Classical, some female vocals, mind-numbingly boring Irish pseudo-folk ambient music, and the like. Finally, one of the visitors begged them to swap in his CD with lively drums and bells, which at least allowed me to hear some of the capabilities of the speakers, which were AN-E "Lexus" (or Luxus) edition. The speakers definitely were not bad. They are obviously capable of good sound, too bad we couldn't really get much of it in that room. The liveliest music played was some Elvis 7" 45's from way before I was born - and that's after a request to play something that has acoustic bass. They didn't even have any Jazz records in their very small vinyl stash. Overall, I doubt if they had more than a dozen LP's there, as if they really didn't care to play various music styles that people might like. A technical detail - the integrated amp they were using, a bright fire-engine red monster, had two different driver tubes installed, one noticeable taller than the other, and the right channel was also noticeably louder than the left channel. One I asked the rep about it, he told me I was seeing things. Judge for yourselves: It's the only picture I took at the show, just to check with other members here if I'm really "seeing things". In the end, the AN room, while certainly sounding capable and good, was not, to my hearing, "head and shoulders" above any competition, as per Richard, and nowhere near the best of the show. Now I can sleep soundly knowing that my opinion is based on something I'd heard (again) with my own ears, and not hearsay. Voxativ room had a pair of Hagen monitors driven by their own integrated amp with built-in DAC, DSP, all Qobuz wireless centered. The little Hagen speakers, with 5.5 inch single driver and horn opening at front bottom, sounded pretty impressive playing acoustic music. And, according to the rep in the room, with the help of DSP, they can go down to 45 Hz, which isn't bad, given how small they are. However, when playing some more dynamic music, the lack of bass becomes immediately apparent, like, I suspect, with my single-driver speakers of many makes. Also, the whole concept of streaming, wireless, control from smartphone, does not appeal to my old-school tastes for audio equipment. But, the little Hagens gave me an initial taste of what Voxativ speakers may be capable of, and, suffice it to say - I want to hear more of them. And now, for the best sound of the show according to me and my ears. The biggest WOW sound of that show was the Tweak Audio room, which had a Sota TT playing through T+A solid state electronics (with a 1,000 Watt stereo power amp), driving a pair of T+A transmission line speakers (bottom ported, again - model escapes me). Now, T+A isn't known as a speaker manufacturer per se, but these speakers sounded simply fantastic driven by their gear. Last time I heard T+A gear was in 2016, when they were driving Paradigm Person 9 speakers, and the sound was amazing back then. Having for the second time been really impresses by T+A room, I realize a lot of it is due to the quality of the gear. I now have solid as cement respect and admiration for T+A SS gear. So, in the end, if money was no object, my #1 would be the T+A gear/speakers, and #2 would be the CH Precision/Stenheim. For the money spent, the biggest bang for the buck were without a doubt the Ohm Walsh speakers, and for a complete system - the Alexus/Bache combination. And last, but not least, there was a room with a system unlike anything else at the show. It was by a Japanese firm called Haniwa (Kubotek), whom I've never heard of before. Everything in that room was made by them, from the cartridge to the speakers, and everything in between, including turntable, phono, pre, and amp. And everything there is one of a kind, if I may be so bold. The cartridge has the worlds lowest impedance - at only 0.4 Ohm, the phono is of the transimpedance current mode type, then it goes to a separate box current to voltage transformer, from which it goes to the pre/amp combo (fairly small boxes), and finally to the speakers. Now, the speakers deserve a special mention. Full range single driver, enclosed in a round outer shell the size no bigger than a volleyball, sitting atop a single-post metal stand. Impedance of the speakers is below 3.5 Ohm, so the amp driving them is 400 WPC! And boy, do those little puppies fill the room with tremendous sound! They were playing some large-scale symphonic music, and I simply couldn't believe those little things produced the magnitude of the sound I was hearing. All in all, I was floored. Now, the drawback of it is that the whole system needs to operate as one - it's pretty much pointless buying some components without the others, which makes it pretty esoteric and uncommon. I certainly wouldn't do it at my stage in this hobby. But, to someone looking to build a full system from scratch, who has the money to spend on it, and is not afraid of thinking outside the box - I would wholeheartedly suggest to give it a listen - you may be as floored as I was.