CES 2007 Show Reports
CES / The Show 2007
Text and Photo: Garrett Hongo
Nola Loudspeakers, Carl Marchisotto
After several failed tries with different systems, I settled on my main demo track as the "Kyrie" of Mozart's "Mass in C Minor" (Virgin) performed by Le Concert d' Astrée, Louis Langrée conducting, with Natalie Dessay the soprano soloist. This is a period instrument performance with a large choir and soprano soloists (Veronique Gens sings too), giving me the entirety of my favorite music types--a dynamic yet precise orchestra, a choir that sings in complex chromaticisms, and (as with opera) a virtuosic singer. With this established, the Nola room was the first "good sound" I encountered and one of my top three in the show. It was also definitely the friendliest. Carl Marchisotto was there with his wife and two daughters. Spirited, welcoming, and expansive could describe either the family or the system. The speakers were his Viper Reference in gorgeous piano rosewood ($12,000) driven by the new Western Electric 972-A monoblock amps (eight 300b valves per @ $85,000 for the pair). The pre was the Conrad Johnson ART II.
CES 2007: Nola Viper Reference
The support system for the Viper Reference included a Lector 4 piece CD player, conrad-johnson ART II preamplifier, Western Electric 972-A mono block amplifiers, three pairs of Nola IP1 Isolation platforms, and Nordost Valhalla cables.
The Piano Rosewood Viper Reference speakers pictured are $12,000/pair. They are also available in piano black for $13,200/pair.
The Nola Viper IA at the Arcici Suspense Equipment Rack room:
CES 2007: Nola Viper IIA
Text and Photo: Dave and Carol Clark
Muse room with the Nola Viper IIA loudspeakers.
CES 2007: Nola Viper Reference
CES 2007: Nola Improves Fit and Finish of Viper Reference Speakers
Text and Photo: Jim Hannon
The improved version of the Nola Viper Reference not only looked a lot better in its piano rosewood finish than last year's entry, but the fit and finish was significantly better as well as the sonic balance. It uses the same twin cast-magnesium bass drivers and latest generation Alnico magnet midrange unit that are used in the Nola Grand Reference. This is a speaker that can literally reproduce an image that appears to be "holographic" and it sounded equally at home on all genres of music.
Biggest Surprise: For me it would be the performance of the $12,000 per pair Nola Viper Reference loudspeaker. Though many have touted the sound of Nolas over the years, I have been less than pleased with their sound at the last several shows, finding the bass way out of line with the rest of the frequency range. Of course, it probably didn't hurt that this year they were being driven by the new $85,000 (no, that is not a typo) Western Electric Model 97-A 300B-based tube monoblock amplifiers, but the Nolas sounded wonderfully open, easy, natural, and, especially when I was seated farther back, remarkably of a piece. Which once again shows how tricky it is to get decent sound at an audio show.
Jonathan Valin on Ultra-High-End Loudspeakers, Electronics, and Turntables
I'm not quite sure how to explain the Nola "comeback," but its $12k Viper Reference open-baffle floorstander sounded quite a bit more coherent and far more transparent than any of the large Nola speakers I've heard at previous shows. Midrange and treble timbres were strikingly natural, detail was good, liveliness was high. There was a bit of a channel imbalance that pulled vocalists slightly off-center and the thickish Nola bass will never be my fave; nonetheless, this was still the best sound I've heard from Nolas. And a very fine best, at that.