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Review: (updated) darTZeel CTH-8550 integrated amplifier (with Siltech)
Jeff Catalano of High Water Sound is an analog wizard and his rooms have been, universally, the sources of not only high-quality sound but some seriously awesome grooving.
Jeff was sporting more or less the same setup as he had at Axpona GA, with the tremendous 100dB efficient Horning Eufrodite Ultimate Zigma Plus ($22k as configured) providing the deepest and widest sound stage I’ve ever heard at a show. Fronting these speakers was a Thoress rig ($8k preamp/stereo phono and $14k monoblocks sporting some brand new Sophia Electra 845 single ended tubes), and the Tron Seven Ultimate for his mono phono needs. Everything was sitting on custom SRA stands and rack.
The turntable was the TW Acustic Black Night ($45k), which had two TW Acustic tonearms mounted, one with a Dynavector XV-1s mono and the other with an Ortofon Windfeld.
Is it even fair to bring a $45k turntable to an audio show? I have to ask. It’s not like this is on any of my shortlists, but sure, yeah, if I was an oligarch-in-training, I’d be on this like white on rice. Of course, Mega Millions and PowerBall could hit this week (!!!) and then I’d probably be picking up two of them. Failing all that, however, all I can do is drool on myself a little bit every time I see one of these gorgeous hunks of audio love. Oh, and its way better looking in person.
Two arms? Well, yes. How else do you do justice to your mono and your stereo recordings? Well, in this case, you do it with two arms, two carts (a stereo and a mono) and two different phono stages (a stereo and a mono), of course! Sure, it’s overkill — but wow, the sound! Liquid.
My favorite pic of the show. All that spinning copper!
What else would you need, really? Oh, wait — what is that tucked down by the wall, near the a/c unit? Is that (– gasp! –) a CD player?!?!
When confronted with digital blasphemy anywhere near his analog temple, Jeff gives a pragmatic shrug. “Some customers bring in discs. What can I do?” Other than excommunication, what indeed?
Say hi, Jeff!
Let me say this by way of a closing. I’ve been to four shows in the last year and Jeff Catalano has been at each. At each show, he’s had some minor variation of the same rig. TW Acustic on the front end. Thoress or Tron or Horning driving the big Horning (or Aspara) speakers. At least one Dynavector cart. At each of these shows, I have not only been impressed with the high quality of the gear that Highwater Sound chooses to display but the deliciously liquid sound that he manages to pour from them. Finding a Highwater Sound room is like suddenly waking up in a warm oasis after slogging through a cold night in the audio desert.
Another show, another great sound, another rave review. This is turning out to be one hell of a batting average you have there, Jeff. Very, very well done.