New York 2014: High Fidelity Services with Audia Flight and a new Parsifal

In what turned out to be a rather ironic moment, I was flipping through Facebook this morning and saw that Art Dudley had visited High Water Sounds‘ Jeff Catalano’s demo room at the New York Show and had walked away with a great impression, but no photos. “Ha!” I chortled to myself, and then when to browse my rather enormous archive of photos … and found that while I do have some photos, the ones I wanted were utter crap. So much for my smart-alec self.

Anyway, I did manage a few photos, thankfully. And that’s a good thing because this room was both “very good” and “very surprising”.

The latter bit, first: seeing Jeff out of his wheelhouse is pretty hilarious. I want it noted that I actually saw Jeff play CDs on the Zanden Audio Model 2500 signature ($22,500) player, and for the record, no one was holding a gun to his head. Pretty remarkable in itself. Just prior to that, I caught the new flagship Miyajima cartridge, called Madake ($5,900). This cartridge has the unique (?) design of using a bamboo cantilever, instead of metal or stone, which supposedly provides superior resonance control. This cart was mounted on the well-loved TW Acustic Raven GT SE ($12,500), here kitted out with a pair of Raven tonearms ($5,500 each) — the other arm was carrying a Miyajima Zero ($2,000), a mono cartridge that Michael Fremer has been raving about.

Guess what? Both experiences — analog and digital — were downright excellent.

The accompanying electronics, sourced from Paul Manos’ High Fidelity Services, had a tremendous impact here. An Audia Flight Phono Preamp ($5,995) was paired with the matching Strumento No1 preamplifier ($17,500) and hulking 200wpc (doubling into 4Ω and again into 2) Strumento No4 amplifier ($27,500). I haven’t had much experience with the Italian brand, but Audia Flight made a big impression here.

The new Verity Audio Parsifal Anniversary ($25k/pair) boasts a frequency response from 25Hz-50kHz, a 1″ dual-ring tweeter, a 5″ midrange and a rear-firing bass-reflex woofer cabinet with an 8″ driver. Overal, the system is 89dB and 8Ω nominal, with a recommended amplifier output of >18watts. The cabinet is a sleek, upward swoop and here finished in a luxurious piano-black.

I can’t pull apart any particular component for exaltation or crucifixion, so let me use that as a bracket around my general reaction, which was “Wow”.

This room’s sound was very dynamic, impactful, and linear. Definitely one of the best at the show!