Let’s start with the $13,500 Voxativ Pi loudspeaker. It’s not big. It’s nothing like big. It’s a two-foot tall, fifty pound shoebox loaded with one of Voxativ’s full range drivers. The spec sheet says that it will thump down to 40 Hz with 99db sensitivity. While it doesn’t sound quite as unrestrained as its larger stablemates, it delivers more of their immediacy and color than you would expect.
The next surprise was the SoundWaves Cantato Grande turntable and tonearm ($27k). Every turntable maker seems to have a problem that he wants to solve, and the Cantato’s claim to fame is, apparently, its silence. Other than perfectionist bearings, that whole, wacky platform assembly is non-optional. The unipivot arm alone is a piece of industrial art. Paired with a Lyra cartridge and the Aurorasound Vida lcr phono preamp ($5000), the sound here was dead steady on Gerry Mulligan Meets Ben Webster, allowing Mulligan’s sax to growl out in a way that I associate less with speakers and more with… well… a sax.
Another surprise here was the chance to listen to the Totaldac D1-tube ($8000), a discrete ladder circuit with purist signal handling. I’ve been curious about how the pure insanity behind such an approach would work in practice, and the answer in this system was “very well.” There was little evidence of any digititis in our short session, and it there was nothing that would send you screaming back to vinyl.
No. Not screaming. Sauntering, maybe. I mean, as long as Gerry Mulligan Meets Ben Webster is still just lying there…
For my tastes, this was one of the special rooms at the show.