Your Final System is one of those company names that provokes rebelliousness in my soul. "My final system? SAYS WHO?!" But scoff as you will, they might just convince you. Constellation Audio's Virgo Linestage ($19,000) and Centaur power amp ($24,000) lent power to Von Schweikert's VR-44 Aktive loudspeakers ($26,000). DSD was provided by the Meitner Design MA-1-1 DSD DAC ($7,000). Everything else was Your Final System: the Ref-3 LE computer transport ($15,500) and all the cabling, ranging from $195 for a power cord to $2,495 for the Reference Anaconda bi-wire speaker cables. The equipment rack was the VTI BL503 ($480).
I'm familiar with these guys, having lived next door to them for three days during the California Audio Show, so I felt pretty comfortable asking right away to play one of my own CDs. This was a new test track for me: "Apple Blossom Rag" from Josh Ritter's latest album, The Beast in its Tracks. It's a deceptively low-key and simple track, consisting of just Josh and a guitar, but it was clearly recorded in someone's kitchen or similar -- there is a lot of background chatter and dishes clinking, and since the whole thing is minimalistically recorded, it's actually pretty unforgiving.
The system handled the whole thing with aplomb. The guitar and Ritter’s voice were properly sweet, and all of the texture from the acoustic guitar came through. The background noises were clear and placed appropriately, popping when they were supposed to without overwhelming the music. At the time I thought the room seemed a bit shy on bass, but that was either the track or a warm-up issue, because when I visited on Saturday evening there was no bass issue at all. Overall, the sound was downright entrancing and wonderfully balanced. I think this could indeed be the final system for many.