This was my first time encountering the Volti Audio Aluras ($13,900), and don’t tell anyone, but I think I might like them even better than the Vittoras. Shhhh. There was just something magical happening in this room. Maybe it was all the tube glow emanating from SST Audio’s single-ended Essence mono blocks ($62,000/pair), four of which were in use in the room in a stereo bi-amp configuration. Also featured from SST was a new combination preamp/active crossover (price TBA, but expect around $38,000). The sources were from dCs — the Puccini SACD player and Elgar DAC.
The look of this stuff is arresting — the warm woodwork on the Aluras, the blingy-but-somehow-classy details on the SST amps… I particularly love the way SST has designed the Essence mono blocks in mirror image to each other. SST Audio is a Russian company, but for this project they have teamed up with Studio Zagato of Italy, who also design custom Bentleys, BMWs, and Alpha Romeos, and have most famously had an ongoing relationship with Aston Martin since the 1960s. Maybe this explains my urge to make “vroom vroom” noises when I see these amps?
But rest assured, I’m not that shallow; looks aren’t enough to sway me. The sound here was smooth, sweet, and light, without being lightweight; the music had heft as well as speed. Entering the room made me mentally go “ahhhh…” This was just wonderfully easy to listen to.