You want sound that’s narcotically intimate? Seductively expressive? Molecularly textured? The kind of sound that, once your ears and brain have latched on to it, makes you struggle to let go, even if you have a show report to do, because the sound is so hard to resist?
I submit to you this room, a collaboration among Canadian distributor Tri-Cell and two dealerships—Montreal-based L’Atelier Audio and Hearken Audio of Kitchener, Ontario—which delivered all the qualities above and was one of my favorite rooms at the show. Plus, I had one of my long-held biases shattered. More about that in a moment.
How do you cook up a system that delivers the qualities described above? Start with a Jean Nantais Reference Lenco MkII turntable ($5250 US) equipped with a Bird of Prey tonearm ($10,000 US) and a Miyajima Infinity cartridge ($3475 US). Add a Miyajima EC-5 preamplifier with three phono inputs ($5175 US) and ETR step up transformer ($2600 US). Fold in two full range, crossoverless, Cube Jazzon speakers from Poland ($9300) and a Puritan Audio PSM156 AC conditioner ($1875 US). Sprinkle in some Ocellia Silver cabling and add a dollop of 100Wpc Kora TB200 amplifier, from France. The Kora, which employs Kora-patented Square Tube amplifier topology, is described as a hybrid but not in the sense the term is typically understood. Rather, the TB200 should be viewed, to pull a quote from the Kora website, “not as a transistor amplifier preceded by tubes … [but] a tube amplifier assisted by transistors.” (Also in the room: A Miyajima OTL amplifier and an Aqua Acoustic Quality Formula xHD DAC.)
Once all the ingredients have been added, stir, let the concoction stand for a moment, then serve it up. What you’ll hear is airy, fleshy, tangible, explicit, colorful, juicy sounds.
About that bias I mentioned above: That Miyajima Infinity cartridge was mono, as were the records played. I didn’t know mono could sound that good.
This system may not be ideal for a very large listening space, but for nearfield listening in a smaller room, it would be hard to beat. I’m already hungry for more.
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