LA Audio Show Report #1 – Both Ends of the Price Spectrum

I’m going to write my show reports differently than I have in the past. I want to give coverage to the ultra high-end, the high-end, the somewhat affordable high-end, the bargain high-end, and the not quite high-end but still very musical and easy to enjoy.

So, my first report with this approach is going to cover both ends of the price spectrum, one of the most expensive rooms that I really liked at the show and one of the products that’s not high-end, but plays really enjoyable music. Let’s start with that product.

The Vanatoo Powered Speaker Room


Upon entering the Vanatoo room it was obvious that the guys from Vanatoo were genuinely proud of their new little speaker. It’s named the Transparent Zero as it is the little brother of their hugely popular Transparent One that I reviewed about three years ago. 

In their room, the speakers were stand mounted and well out from the wall. They sounded surprisingly full and spacious. The Transparent Zeros give the beginner a chance for very nice sound for $359, and the only additional thing needed is a phone, tablet, or computer as a source for the music.

The little Vanatoo is 7.5″H x 4.75″W x 7.75″D without the support or 7.5″H x 4.75″W x 9.75″D when using the support. It has a 4-inch aluminum cone woofer, a 4-inch long-throw passive radiator, and a 1-inch soft dome tweeter. In the active speaker, there is an integrated bi-amped, 4-channel, 48 watt per channel amplifier. The active speaker has USB, Toslink Optical, and analog inputs. It also has a full-featured remote control and a rather ingenious reversible design that tilts the speaker back for desktop use or flat for stand or bookshelf mounting.

These speakers offer anyone looking for an enjoyable desktop system really nice sound for $359.00. I can’t wait to get a pair in for review.

The VAC/Von Schweikert Audio Room

The VAC/Von Schweikert Audio room’s vinyl only system came in at a cool $802,000 not counting the cables. It consisted of Von Schweikert Ultra 11 Loudspeakers driven by a pair of VAC Statement 450 IQ Monoblocks. The Line Stage was the VAC Statement and likewise their Statement Phono Stage. The turntable was the Kronos Pro with their SCPS-1 Power Supply. The tonearm was the Andre Theriault Black Beauty with a ZYX Audio Ultimate 4D Cartridge. The racks and amp stands were from Artesania Audio. Add the J-Corder’s rebuilt Technics 1520 Reel-to-Reel, the Aurender N10 Music Server and the Lampizator Golden Gate DAC and the price for the system sans cables comes to $844,400.

So, the natural question is did it sound like a million bucks? This may literally be the first time I have ever asked that question. Let me just share this with you. Thursday on setup day, Becky and I were wandering around the second floor when we heard Sinatra singing with a big band. It sounded so lifelike, and we headed down the hall to hear the system. We passed four doors before we found it. It was still breaking in then, but it still sounded like music.

This system fits into the category of being not just for the one percenters, but for the one percenters who are audiophiles too.  Still, I ran into a friend who asked if I had heard anything good. I answered the VAC/Von Schweikert room and then added, but it cost nearly a million dollars. He answered, “Well, so does my system.” So, however small this market is, there are buyers for gear at this price.

I don’t want to be glib about this system; by late Saturday it sounded absolutely stunning! I have heard other huge speakers, Infinity IRS, huge electrostatics, and others. None of them had such a natural sound, and all of them made things seem too big and often bloated; but not this system. They sounded life-size, full-bodied with a wide, deep soundstage. The sound could be sophisticated with plenty of air, and the bass was deep and powerful yet as tuneful as I could ever want. This is something I seldom hear from modern speakers with dead cabinets, much less with so many drivers.

This VAC/Von Schweikert system wouldn’t even fit into my room, and I doubt that my electrical system could handle it. I guess if you have the funds for this system though, you probably have a house big enough for any system. All, I can really say is if you get the chance to hear this system, don’t miss it. If you get one and live anywhere close to me, I’d love to hear it again.

Additional Coverage of the LA Audio Show:

Getting Ready for the Los Angeles Audio Show
LA Audio Show Day 1, Part 1
LA Audio Show Day 1, Part 2
Pictures from the LA Audio Show, Day 1, Part 3
LA Audio Show Day Two, Part 1
LA Audio Show Day Two, Part 2
LA Audio Show Day Two, Part 3
LA Audio Show, Headphones and Other Stuff
Turntable Eye Candy from LA Audio Show, Part 1
LA Audio Show #2 – Jaw-Dropping Sound at the LA Audio Show
Turntable Eye Candy from LA Audio Show, Part 2
LA Audio Show Report #3 – Rooms That Impressed
LA Audio Show, #4, Best Speaker Under $20,000
LA Audio Show Report #5, The British Sound Still Sounds Like Music
LA Audio Show Report #6, Is $100,000 the New Normal? – System 1
LA Audio Show Report #7, High Water Sound wins Beatnik Bongo Award for Best Room Under $100K
LA Audio Show Report #8, Optimal Enchantment and MBL; Two $100K Plus Rooms that Impressed
LA Audio Show Report #9, Audio Vista Points You Have to See
LA Audio Show Report #10, Systems from $14,000 Down to $400
LA Audio Show Report #11, The Vinnie Rossi/Spatial Audio/Anticables Room Wins the Beatnik Bongo Award for Best Room Under $50,000
LA Audio Show Report #12, VAC/Von Schweikert Audio Wins the Beatnik Bongo Award for Best Room Over $100,000