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RMAF 2011: Evolution, darTZeel, Playback, Wave Kinetics, Durand

The first thing that struck me as odd when I walked into the Bluelight Audio room was the setup. Here at last are the darling $2.5k Evolution Acoustics MMMicroOne speakers sitting on their stands, and there is the semi-mythical $20k darTZeel CTH-8550 integrated amplifier … sitting rather ignominiously on the floor of the hotel room. Huh? Why the hell is that delicious piece of audio love sitting on the freakin’ floor!?! To paraphrase Lars Kristensen from Nordost — you must respect your gear or you vill have terrible audio!

Well, I think even Lars would be appreciative of the audio quality in the room. Okay, maybe he would. Who the hell knows.

But I was appreciative. Does that count?

The reason for the willy-nilly installation was quickly learned — it was sitting on a set of Wave Kinetics isolation devices. I’m assuming the point was that, with good isolation, who cares what it sits on? It’s an interesting argument, I guess, but I would have loved to fondle that beautifully made Swiss confection without having to go spelunking to do it.

The next weird thing to hit me was pretty much expected. The gear front ending this rather affordable speaker is, what, 20x it’s cost? More? Reviewers have raved about this matchup, expensive front to affordable speakers, and look how those [cheap] speakers don’t embarrass that [expensive] front end! Ok, sure. I get it — and in point of fact, the speakers sounded very much like they were way better/bigger than their cost/size might otherwise indicate. But as I left, I have to admit that I was very curious about how all that awesome gear would sound driving some of the behemoths in the Evolution arsenal, like the one in the big poster that was hanging in the corner.

That’s me. Always greedy.

The digital unit fronting the system was an $8.5k Playback Designs MPS-3, but someone else told me it was a $17k MPS-5. They’re wrong. It’s an MPS-3. The USB-X interface is hanging off the back.

Analog! A Wave Kinetics NVS Reference Turntable with an $8k Durand Talea II tonearm at the rear and the new $12k 12″ Telos tonearm on the side. When I was in the room, the Talea was mounted, but had no cart. The Telos sported an old Ortofon A90.

Ortofon A90 on the new Durand Telos arm. Very pretty cart. Very pretty tonearm. Very pretty table. I was in analog heaven here.

Big 12″ tonearm goodness.

Is Joel Durand, here holding the darTZeel remote, pondering his work?

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