A Van Alstine amplifier/pre drove the rig, fronted by a Vega DAC from Auralic and a digital streamer from Salk. A pair of Philharmonic 3 loudspeakers sat off to the side. Jim’s custom-finished pair of Soundscape 8 were also on display.
The sound in this room was very engaging; air and texture rated high on the geek-o-meter, and bass performance was excellent. It’s hard to judge the particulars from this kind of setup, but based on my fly-by, I can say it’s very much in keeping with the brand — that is to say, wildly over-achieving for the price point. I’m going to need more exposure — and need to kick those barnacles out of that front row. Ahem.
Salk, and Van Alstine, are cult leaders for a reason. No, this is most definitely not entry-level either in price or sound, but again, these are brands that the lucky cognoscenti happen to fall into after a happy accident. Once there, incredulity follows. Audiophiles routinely make fun of high-price audio components, happily debating the merits of various business models and go-to-market strategies like we have any idea what we’re talking about. But the point at the bottom of that barrel is that we love us a bargain. And these guys are routinely offering them.