The Ciamara room was a beautiful little corner of the show. The windows, barely cracked, let the breeze in and with it, the gentle billowing of the curtains made the entire scene somewhat surreal as the fabric seemed to move in time with the music.
That is, right up until Stereophile’s Ariel Bitran asked if he could hear some ABBA. I fled the scene.
But before that acoustic travesty, I got to spend some quality time with the $37,000 TAD CR-1 loudspeakers. Perched atop their $3,500 stands, the CR-1 is probably as good as it gets in stand-mount speakers. Imaging is uncanny and bass is all out of proportion with any expectation of what a stand-mount speaker can or should be able to do.
Ciamara’s Sanjay Patel had a lot of wonderful digital sources to feed it, including a top-of-the-line $11,250 Lavray DA2002 Gold DAC, an $7,995 Bricasti M1 DAC and the new $22,000 Weiss Medea+ (as configured). The Weiss MAN301, which costs $9,083 for the base server model and $12,262 when ordered with an on-board DAC, acted as a music server-source, connecting into the Medea+ while I was in the room.
Weiss has it’s own software to control music-file playback, which Sanjay took a few minutes to walk me through. It’s pretty slick; it seems intuitive and easy to use.
A $30,000 cable loom of ZenSati #3 made all the connections.
Power and control came from Viola Labs, a new-to-me company started by a pair of Mark Levinson alums. Their Solo is a $45,000 fully mono preamplifier, here used to push the signal into the imposing $59,000 Bravo II amplifier. This is actually a stereo amp – despite what the pictures show! The unit on the left of the rack is the 190lb power supply for the actual amp sitting on the right. Together, the Bravo is good for 350wpc into 8ohms, doubling cleanly into 4, and is stable down to 1ohm.
Here’s another fun Viola fact. Guess what the input impedance is — on all Viola products? If you guessed one mega-ohm, you win a prize. I’m not sure what that prize is, but it’s probably very valuable.