“This has to be one of the best sounding rooms at T.H.E. Show,” said self to self. Listening to Count Basie and his Orchestra’s rendition of “After the Rain,” the beauty, clarity, and absolute spot-on rightness of every single high-end parameter I could think of impelled me to write in my notes, “The price reflects the pedigree of the sound.”
Not that anything in this system approached the six-figure range. The impressive, infrequently encountered QLN Signature SE Monitors ($17,995/pair in standard finish$23,995/pair as shown) from Sweden and the virtually ubiquitous at T.H.E. Show Innuos Statement music server with 2TB storage ($15,750the price will rise with the forthcoming audible power supply upgrade that I covered at AXPONA) from Portugal are below $25,000, and the only components to exceed that were Nagra’s. But the sound suggested even higher prices.
Back to the Count Basie, which I think was on an LP played on a Kuzma Stabi R Custom Finish belt-driven turntable ($10,900) with 4Point 11″ VTA jeweled bearing tonearm ($9240) and Dynavector DRT XV-1s MC cartridge ($5650). Let’s talk about the beautiful silence between the notes and the liquid sound of a speaker that, I was told after the fact, was still breaking in. Or the brass that was brazen but not stridenta quality of reproduction lost to many systems. Or the wonderful three-dimensionality on a 24/44.1 file of “Wooden Church” from the Bobo Stenson Trio. Or the intelligence with which room treatment was employed in a room that also included an HY-3 three-shelf audio rack ($1999). Or the AudioQuest Niagara 5000 power conditioner and full complement of Hurricane, Blizzard, Thunderbird, and Diamond cabling that made everything possible. That you can go higher in AQ’s cable line makes the sonic achievement of this room even more impressive.
I was unable, by the time this blog went live, to understand why two prices are given for some of the Nagra gear. With an explanation to come in the comments section, I hope, we heard, from Nagra:
Classic Vacuum Tube Preamp ($18,900)
Classic Tube DAC/HD DAC replacement/11.2MHz 72-bit with tube output stage and more ($28,500/$47,500)
Classic PSU with 3× output ($16,500)
Classic Amp with 100Wpc ($18,500/$35,900might a pair used as monoblocks cost less than a single amp ×2?)
VPS valve phono stage ($9500)
VGS Vibration Free Support Classic Series (VPS, MPS Series) ($2295/$2195)
PS. Founded in 2016, Common Wave Hi-Fi has a 3500 ft2 showroom that includes a multi-genre record shop, repair workshop, and dedicated reference listening suite. Gig Harbor Audio in the Seattle area espouses a similar community-oriented concept, housed in a three-story structure with three listening spaces.
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