AXPONA 2014: High Water Sound and the session that wasn’t


Jeff Catalano is a wizard. This is known. He routinely pulls a maestro-level performance out of his setups, even if it sometimes feels like he’s having to get extra mojo from pulling things out of places … ah … best left unexplored. Whatever and no matter. However he does it, the High Water Sound suites are the bar for musical performance at an audio show for as long as I’ve been going to audio shows. Which is not very long, but pointing that out kinda ruins the whole momentum thing that I was building there. Spoil sport.

At AXPONA this year, this was one of the first rooms I visited. Given that Jeff’s rooms always accelerate up-and-to-the-right as the weekend goes on, I figured this would be the most excellent place to spend the last two hours of the audio show. I planned, budgeted, arranged and rearranged, and showed up at his door exactly two hours before show close on Sunday afternoon. Yep. Right then. 2 hours prior. On the dot. Sunday. 4pm.

Because someone told me that the show hours were 10am to 6pm each day. Because I’m an idiot and didn’t check this. Yeah. The fact that I spent a good 10 minutes muttering under my breath, cursing and hitting the wall with my face, I’m sure goes a long way to explaining that the show actually ended at 4pm, but hey, details and chagrin.

Son of a *****.

Well, okay, I didn’t really miss it. Not quite. I did manage to sneak in a couple of times. The first time, it was pre-show. Nothing was really dialed in and the speakers were actually pointing at the walls. Guess what? Sounded pretty good. The second time was on Saturday. Room was stuffed to the gills. Pretty much stayed that way, too. Next time I got in, Ross Bennett the pro photographer the AXPONA team hired to make the gear look great (you think my shots are good — ha!) was in there, which made chillin’ difficult. He’s actually a great guy, but it’s a little hard to swap LPs when he’s all up on top of the needle makin’ with the pretty-pretty. And then there was the 4pm thing on Sunday. Dammit. Oh well.

Everyone tells me it sounded great. Hope that helps.

FYI: The TW Acustic Raven GT SE is a bit of a hybrid. It’s a GT with a modified, updated AC platter and the isolation feet from the Black Knight.

The Eufrodite from Hørning is all new. Sort of. There’s bound to be some minor tweaks, but the big tweak is the new cabinet — it’s totally new. Remember that super-deep box? Well, the new one has curved side walls. Goodbye, internal reflections. It’s also shallower, which means it takes up less space, and that is a good thing. The sound? Still Hørning — integrated, dynamic, and still that holographic midrange. Bass is deeper and more coherent than it has any right to be. Yep, totally Hørning. Anyway, this is the fourth major rev to the platform over the last half-dozen years, and the most expensive. And yes, it’s still on my most-wanted list. Yum.

Here’s the full list of the goodies in the room:

  • TW Acustic Raven GT SE ($12,500) w/ two TW Acustic 10.5 tonearms ($5,500 each), one mounted with an Ortofon Windfeld ($4,200) and one with an Ortofon Cadenza Mono ($1,200).
  • Tron-Electric Syren II GT Preamplifier ($55,000)
  • Tron-Electric Seven Phono Mono GT ($15,000)
  • Hørning Hybrid Systems Eufrodite Mark IV Ellipse loudspeakers ($30,000/pair)
  • Silver Circle Audio Tchaik 6 power conditioner ($10,500)
  • Silent Running Audio Scuttle Rack and Ohio XL platforms
  • Simposium Acoustics Super Plus Speaker Platforms
  • Zen Sati Angel Interconnects and Speaker Cables
  • Tel Wire power cords
TW Mat designed by Yamada San, the creator of Zanden