Now that I’ve made the obligatory WAF noises at them, let’s talk sound, which is the real WAF around these parts. There is a definite improvement over the original Phoenix; I noted that the bass seems fuller, but also tighter. In fact, the whole presentation feels tighter to me, with more snap. Janice Ian’s ubiquitous “Walking On Sacred Ground” — if you’ve visited a Soundsmith room, you’ve heard it — startled me with how good it sounded. I’m not really a huge fan of the track, but it’s a revealing one, since on the wrong system I can find it almost intolerably bright. There were no such problems here: the treble had great extension, but no shrillness, and the presentation was liquid-smooth and hugely dynamically satisfying.
Janice Ian was spinning on a George Warren turntable with Graham Phantom arm and Soundsmith Hyperion cartridge, with PTE’s own phono stage ($1,600) in use. The Antelope Gold DAC ($4,500) and a laptop provided digital.
The most important component in the room turned out to be Mark Thoke’s AAA membership card, however; he told me that his van of gear had broken down about 100 miles from Denver, and a call for roadside assistance led to a tow directly to the hotel for unloading before his sad van was carted off to the shop. Talk about the potential for Worst Show Conditions Ever!