SoCal dealer Brooks Berdan was showing off some very fancy electronics at Newport this year, and when I turned the corner and saw the recently reviewed $30k Direct Drive Signature turntable from VPI and Light Harmonic‘s $31k Dual DAC, I knew I attendees were in for something much more than a mere treat. Adding Chord, Burmester and Magico was almost too much to take. No, not really, but how much audio-awesome can one rack hold before wallets randomly start begging passersby to remember the children’s college funds? It’s a problem, and you have to admit that the dilemmas facing audiophiles today are truly daunting.
So, let’s traipse through the room, shall we?
Standing at the front of the room were a pair of Magico S3 loudspeakers ($22,600/pair). I have become a fan of the new S-Line speakers (over the older Q Line); I tend to think of them as a much more approachable track to take with the brand. Audiophiles tend to either love or loathe the approach Magico takes generally, accusing or praising the “house sound” as either sterile or precise. I think the S-Series tends to mitigate this tendency but still cleave pretty strongly to that semi-mythical “neutral” that folks go on about. That is, I think they’re terrifically transparent and still musical.
Tucked into the rack was a camera-defying mirror-finished ($17,995) Burmester 100 Phono Stage. And yes, that was a Lyra Etna Cartridge ($6,995) mounted on the VPI 3-D printed tonearm.
Coming from Chord, there was a pair of SRM 1400 mkII Mono Block Amplifiers ($32,000/pair), a CPA 5000 Preamp ($20,000) and a Red Reference mkIII CD Player ($27,000).
The rack and amp stands were from Solidsteel (Solidsteel HYPER SPIKE HS-4 Equipment Racks, $2,999; HYPER SPIKE HS-A Amp Stands ($699). Cardas Beyond Clear speaker and power cables, with Clear interconnects and USB cable, wired up all the bits.
I’m fairly certain that for most of my time in the room, tunes came courtesy of the Chord player (catering to the wishes of crowd and their home-brought music), and not the fine DAC or turntable, both of which I covet.
I thought the sound in this room was enthralling — the crowd was transfixed. Seriously. The gent in the sweet-spot seat, for example, was totally immune to all my Jedi mind-tricks; attempts to wave him out of that seat were unceremoniously ignored. The Force was strong with that one.