RMAF 2013: High Water Sound opens the Heavens











High Water Sound‘s Jeff Catalano has been working up to this room for, well, for forever. Many years, many variations, culminating in this one weekend in Denver.

What was the catalyst?

Oh, the hell if I know. It could have been any of a thousand things, a swarm of individual fireflies, but somehow, they knitted together for this glorious moment.

And it really shouldn’t have been. Not on the face of it. It’s just simply not possible that those loudspeakers, the $165,000 Liszt from Cessaro Horn Acoustics, would fit in that room. I mean, no way. Not with, you know, physics.

But … well, let’s just say expectations are a weed best found and pulled. They did fit, the sound field was incredible and this was by far the best room Mr C has pulled out of his ass to date. In fact, I think I’m only going to refer to “him” in the honorific from now on. Mr C.

As for the room? In a word? Stunning.

You want more? Ha! You get nothing!

Oh, okay, fine. First, it’s a horn — so, just check off dynamics right now. The sound levels on tap could have stunned cattle. Second, tone is just as much a done deal. Third, oodles of details. I really like that word. It seems to conjure up images of bowls full of steamy Asian deliciousness, which is wildly irrelevant except for that fact that I’m kinda hungry. Fourth, the top-to-bottom coherence, the sound stage, the life … kids, you don’t get to hear systems like this but rarely. Like “dinner at Per Se” rarely. Oh my.

I didn’t get to this room but late — well, it was early in the day but it was on Sunday. So, I suppose with three days of tuning and tweaking I should have been prepared for the best they had to offer. I wasn’t. I’m not precisely speechless, but adjectives have completely failed me. Which is a shame because a salad of superlatives wouldn’t do this room justice. I’m just going to stop babbling now.

Also shown was an entire suite of new gear. A new TW-Acustic turntable, the Raven Anniversary SE ($22k) was shown with a pair of Raven tonearms ($5,500 each); one with an Ortofon Windfeld ($3,899) and the other, the magnificent (but sadly unused as the matching mono phono preamp did not survive transit to the show) Miyajima Labs Zero ($2,000). The new ‘table features the same 3-motor unit from the flagship Black Night, as well as that ‘table’s motor controller, feet and platter. A new armboard is also a striking difference.

Tron-Electric Telster GT SE, a 211-based stereo amplifier ($65,000) with a “matching” Syren II GT Pre ($55k) made their US-debut here at RMAF.

SRA made their usual High Water Sound appearance with some stunning racks and platforms.

Silver Circle had not one but two Tchaik 6 units ($9,500, including the top-shelf power cord) driving the current; I’m told one was for the rack and one for the loudspeakers.

Some seriously wacky-looking cables, the CT-1 Ultimate Reference from High Fidelity Cables, made all the signal connections, with Shun Mook and Telwire bringing the power cords to the gear in the racks.