Naturally, there are differences between the Theta and the Goldmund.The Six Shooter’s presentation, for example, is the less forward of the two. More significantly, the Theta cannot quite rival the Goldmund’s last ounce of resolution and upper extension that permits a clearer picture of the air within a recorded space, even greater differentiation between instruments, and the ability to hear the tail ends of notes as they trail off into oblivion. However, while the Six Shooter may not be state-of-the-art in these respects, it is close. Summing up, the Six Shooter experience is highly enjoyable, highly involving, and completely non-fatiguing. In short, highly analog.
Bypassing the Six Shooter and using the Casablanca as one would any other self-contained controller results in uniformly— though not hugely—inferiorsound. The controller’s scale and dynamic range are less grand than that of the Six Shooter, and the presentation is less open and immediate. Further, the CIII does impart a slight electronic glaze to analog sources. The cumulative effect of these small differences is that the Casablanca is less able to muster the intangible, elusive feeling of being in the presence of musicians. Compared to other controllers, it is unquestionably a star performer. But the Six Shooter elevates music to the magic space where the best of pure analog lives. For that, it is easily worth its $2000 surcharge. The Theta combination is a testament to what a manufacturer can achieve with sufficient thoughtfulness and resources.
The Casablanca III with Six Shooter lacks not a single important musically-oriented feature. Furthermore, this combo’s sound makes neither apologies to nor compromises with excellent stand-alone analog components. The Six Shooter inspires only two wishes: that Theta will bring its benefits to less expensive controllers, and that other manufacturers will emulate this demonstrably superior approach.