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Newport 2014: Triode Corp and MLC, tubes and wood

CT6A7041 hiresnewportlogoforwebI plunked myself down in a chair in the MLC and Triode Corp room and pulled out my notebook to jot down what I was looking at. "Whatcha writing?" asked the guy sitting next to me. I jumped three feet and found myself reflexively shielding my writing as though I'd been caught passing notes in class. ("Do you like me? Check yes or no.") Thankfully, I managed to keep myself from guiltily blurting out "NOTHING!" and instead smiled winningly and told him he could read it next week on Part-Time Audiophile. "Well, tell 'em this is the best I've heard. This is just great!" he said. Strong words, Mr. Stranger Man!

MLC (Matsumoto Lea Cabinet) of Japan was on hand with their XSEED single-driver floor standing speakers ($18,000). The intent with these is clearly to produce something that is as much furniture as a loudspeaker: the cabinets and all of the interior bracing are made of solid hardwood (walnut in this case, I believe), hand-finished and lacquered. The speakers utilize what appears to be a Markaudio Alpair 10P full-range driver, relying on the capacity of the cabinet for bass production. They were paired with Triode’s TRX-M300 monoblocks ($14,000), TRX-2 Tube Preamp ($5,000), TRV-DAC 1.0 ($2,499), and TRV-CD5SE CD player ($3,200).

While I understood the enthusiasm of my erstwhile companion, I was not entirely convinced that this was sonically my cup of tea. I found that the hardwood boxes lent a great deal of box-coloration to the music. In combination with the Triode Corporation amplification, the resulting warm, woody sound was pleasant, but much more colored than is my preference.

In other circumstances, Triode’s gear has been a favorite of mine, so I suspect that it’s just that the combination here was all a bit too much. It’s probably just as well; I am not sure that the humid environment of my coastal home would play well with the needs of solid wood cabinets.

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