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RMAF12: High Water Sound with Pure Sound and Hørning Hybrid

I've gotten so used to seeing and hearing a "certain something" from High Water Sound's Jeff Catalano that it's almost a shock to see him deviate from it. Stunned, actually. I mean, I never would have thought -- ever -- that I'd find a current-model, actually functioning, CD player in any room Jeff had anything to do with ... yet, here it was, winking at me from the corner of the setup, mocking my preconceptions. I actually had to kneel down, check to see if there actually was a power cord running into the massive Silver Circle conditioner and even touch one of the buttons on the Pure Sound A800 before I even realized that it was, in fact, there for actual use. My mind reeled and the universe promptly collapsed into a super-massive black hole.

Ahem.

I guess I should also note that Jeff, himself, was nowhere in evidence — he was running the vinyl-only room up with the big Cessaro loudspeakers. A decision no doubt driven by the possibility that some horrible, unwashed cretin would show up with a bag full of shiny silver discs — [shudder] — and ask for one to be played. The horror.

The real story, joking aside, was right in front of me — Jeff had an all-new lineup of gear from the UK, a valve brand called Pure Sound. Just wanted to note in passing that these slick, black 845-based, 27wpc monos feature a 1MOhm input impedance and the L-300 preamp has a 20 ohm output impedance — some very impressive specs for components, tube or not. While still not exactly affordable, for Jeff and the extraordinary caliber of gear that Jeff chooses to show with, the fact that the brand is here at all is a huge vote of confidence. It’s also rather less pricey than the usual Tron or Hørning electronics used to drive his giant horn loudspeakers.

Speaking of which, another new-to-me item was the Hørning Hybrid Aristotle, a half-sized version of the familiar Eufrodite that’s cropped up repeatedly in HWS show demos. This little guy features the same fit and finish upgrades that I was happy to see on it’s bigger sib at CAF this summer, which is to say, is very fine. Setup for this small space included a clever trick of blocking the rear port, effectively tuning the speakers for the little room.

Other bits of interest — the High Fidelity Cables speaker cables, which aren’t actually released yet. I have a set of their interconnects here for testing/review, but the speaker cables are still some months out, so it was cool to see a sneak peak.

Wish I had more pics of this room, but from what little time I got to spend there, I was very satisfied by the quality of sound. Fast, dynamic, rich. Awesome. Quite frankly, it’s systems like these that I’m happiest to find — expensive, yes, but not absurdly so, and for the quality on offer here, you’re forced to note a couple of things. One, yes, you can spend more money. Two, doing so may be entirely foolish.

Well done. Now, let’s cue up some Grand Funk Railroad, bitches!

  • Hørning Hybrid Aristotle Ultimate Zigma Plus: $15,000
  • Pure Sound L300 preamplifier: $8,000
  • Pure Sound M845 SE monoblock amplifiers: $10,000/pair
  • Pure Sound P10 phono preamplifier: $1,000
  • Pure Sound T10 impedance-matching transformer: $500
  • Pure Sound A800 CD (!!!) player: $1,600
  • TW Acustic Raven One turntable: $7,000
  • Ortofon 309D tonearm: $2,999
  • Silent Running Audio Ohio XL bases
  • Silver Circle Audio Pure Power One 5.0SE: $7,500
  • High Fidelity Cables speaker cables and interconnects

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