I had to smile upon seeing the Sonist Audio Randy Bankert Memorial Edition speakers: these special edition Concerto 4’s ($5,895) are stained in tobacco brown in honor of their namesake’s famed love of cigars. BorderPatrol‘s P21 integrated push-pull amp ($9,750) provided the power. The magic boxes providing music were Baetis Audio’s Revolution server ($3,000) and the Berkeley Alpha DAC series 2 ($4,995). All cabling was by Snake River Audio, of course, showcasing their Signature Series Cottonmouth cables: 1m interconnects ($1,495), 2m power cables ($1,695), and 3m bi-wire speaker cables ($2,595). Also in use was SRA’s Boomslang non-coaxial at $595 for 1.37m.
Jonny Wilson displayed two plaster pedestals in his room: one with a bust of Beethoven, one with figurines of the Fab Four. The unspoken message is that no matter who your musical idols are, this system can handle ’em. I believe it. Sean Hayes’ “Powerful Stuff” sounded rich, lively, and unfussy. The combination of Sonist and BorderPatrol is very pleasant; the outcome tends to be warm without sounding muddy, too lush, or too romantic. There was occasionally something a bit harsh and digital in the upper treble, which might be chalked up to the DAC, or might simply indicate a betrayal by the hotel’s power. The system’s ability to stomp came out on Ray Wylie Hubbard’s “Snake Farm,” which was declared the unofficial Snake River theme song. “Snake Farm — it just sounds nasty,” sings Mr. Hubbard in his Texas drawl, but there was little here that could be called nasty, except in the best way possible.