Best Sound—Cost No Object
The best sound at the show featured the Wilson Audio Sashas at $26,900, the DCS Paganini Digital Playback System at slightly over $50,000, Basis Inspiration turntable at $47,000, and the VTL 7.5 Series III preamplifier at $20,000 and new VTL MB-450 Series III amplifiers at $20,000 and the TP-6.5 signature phono preamplifier at $8,500, all run with Transparent reference cabling. I was astonished by the open and organic sound.
Best Sound—Lowest Price
The Lorelei speakers ($2700), Cnadela preamplifier ($1500), and Khartago Monos, compelte with Groneberg Quattro cables, cost a neat $5,500. The sound was stunning—precise, sweet, and never less than assured. A steal at the price. Further proof that better sound than ever is available at reasonable prices.
Without question, the Clearaudio Concept ‘table at $1400 looked to these eyes like a steal. Yes, there are cheaper ‘tables. But nothing at the lower end of the price spectrum that I’ve heard offers the level of resolution and black backgrounds that the Concept did. The Concept, you could say, isn’t just a great concept; it delivers the goods and more.
Most Significant Product Introduction
The Sony SS-AR1 loudspeaker was the most surprising entrant into the loudspeaker wars. Who knew that Sony was going to become a combatant, stepping up to the challenge posed by the Pioneer? But the Sony sounded magnificent, warm, full, and powerful.
Most Important Trend
The resurgence of reel-to-reel, promoted by the Tape Project and dealerships such as Maryland’s United Home Audio has to be the most surprising development in high end audio. The tapes offer extraordinary resolution, free of grain and boasting immense soundstage depth and an immaculate treble, when they’ve been well-recorded.