In spite of the fact that this room was actually across the hallway from my sleeping room, I wasn’t able to muscle my way through the door until Sunday morning. When I did, however, I realized this was the system that had prompted me, on Thursday night, to question whether someone was playing live guitar across the hall until the volume got turned down.
There was a great deal of equipment on static display in the room, but I had the treat of listening to the Margules Orpheus loudspeaker ($7900/pair), the SW-3 active subwoofer ($1,150), U280sc stereo tube amp ($3,900), SF220r stereo tube preamp ($3,000), and TT-100 turntable ($2,500). I know there was also a digital set-up in this room, but our request for vinyl was met so enthusiastically that apparently I neglected to take notes on what non-analog equipment was available.
When I entered the room, it was to some lovely, light strings. My notes say, “Just beautiful!” and it was: smooth (but not too smooth!), cohesive sound, with wonderful texture to the strings, and no noticeable mid-bass hump. The sound was warm and sweet but not at all slow or syrupy to my ear. Julian Margules asked what we’d like to hear, and in response to “something bigger,” I was treated to some Mahler. The authority and rumble on the full orchestra was excellent! Sometimes systems handle smaller ensembles beautifully, but fall down when it comes to the complexity of a full-on orchestra. Not so here.
While I’m at it, can I also mention that this stuff is gorgeous? I was particularly enamored with the turntable, which comes in glossy black or in a dark brownish red. The jet black paint, reddish wood, brass, and glowing tubes of the U280sc exude warm beauty — the aesthetic of everything is futuristic and old-fashioned, all at once. It happens to be a look that I very much appreciate.
Margules is a Mexican company and currently has only two American dealers: Audio Vision in San Francisco, and Blackbird Audio in Santee, CA, which helps explain why I haven’t had a chance to hear this fine gear before. It’s my hope that I (and others) will get another chance in the future!