|Before our alphabetical show coverage begins, I want to single out two rooms for best sounds. Just remember that such titular bestowals are highly subjective. They'll be likely put into sharp relief by other reports whose writers fancied something different altogether. C'est la vie. With my favorite room, I instantly got a very strong emotional response that proved unnervingly repeatable each time I re-entered it - which happened about three or four times. While I'm usually suspicious of emotional reactions as unreliable, phase-of-the-moon occurrences whose many contributing factors may have more to do with body chemistry and psychology than "objective" aural sensations, this room triggered me in the same fashion each time I hunkered down. Hence I'll disregard the mental alarm bells and simply tell you that the music here caused me to have literal out-of-body experiences. Why? I don't have the foggiest. Regardless, for me, these weren't wild rides but full-blown astral trips, there in room 246 while other listeners were present. Joined at the proverbial hip were Rethm Loudspeakers, deHavilland electronics and Prana Wire, the former a single-driver design which I had, er, singled out at CES 2003, the latter a combination that, together with Alon, had lifted my Scottish-ancestry kilt during HE2003.
|With deHavilland's chief engineer Kara Chaffee and marketing director George Kielczymski posing above, George and Prana's Joe Cohen below, their system was comprised of a scrumptious Teres Audio Model 255 turntable [$2,575 - $2,975] with heavy lead-shot loaded acrylic platter and exotic hardwood plinth; a TOC-from-hell Sony SACD player as transport; a French Metronome C-20 Signature DAC; deHavilland UltraVerve octal preamp [$2,995]; deHavilland 60-watt GM-70 monoblocks [$9,995/pr] with dedicated transformers for the B+ rails; and The Second Rethm [$6,480/pr] whose divided rear horn has the Lowther DX4's rear wave travel down 9' and 10.6' paths to vent into the lateral ports. The Second's sensitivity of 98-102dB (depending on whether the Lowther DX3, DX4 or 8" Supravox drivers are used) plus 45Hz extension made this combination of gear ultra-dynamic, utterly seamless and possessed of a gargantuan soundstage.|
But more importantly than all the checkered audiophile shopping cart goodies, this system communicated the emotional message of the music in a very otherworldly fashion that was the aural equivalent of Starship Enterprise's beam-me-up area. Twisting Mr. Jacob's arm to also hear the smaller Third Rethm [$4,180/pr with Lowther DX55], the overall tonal balance shifted upwards to give a leaner bass, even more open midrange and sparklier highs. This was clearly a function of room size which, in this case and talking with the designer, was slightly too large for the Third and not quite large enough for The Second. Regardless, the sonic non-signatures were very similar, making the Rethm brand -- Sanskrit for Harmony-- a Lowther-based speaker design house which, unlike with most other Lowther brands, I can not only enthusiastically get behind but which I'm keenly looking forward to review. Ditto for deHavilland electronics. Due to their very stiff power supplies and high output voltages, John Potis with his less efficient Silverline and Magnepan speakers is the more suitable reviewer candidate here and has already been put into George's little black book. Trust me, John - that's a good thing.
With thanks to this crew -- for letting me abuse their patience with my own music --and compliments for a job exceedingly well done, in a hotel room with suspended floors, our next-favorite entrant before the regular coverage begins? The DeVore Fidelity/Sun Audio room hosted by the Two Bald Guys from Portland's eponymous store who, hands-down, had the best, most unique music on tap. We engaged in a friendly ping-pong challenge, playing alternately one of their tracks, then one of mine, with all of us promising to trade CDRs in the very near future. This included my friends Marja and Henk from Holland who had flown in and were present during this particular demo.
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