I love Joseph Audio. I’m pretty sure I’m on record about that. Just wanted to get that out of the way.
The first room paired the $13k Perspective with electronics from VTL. The TL-5.5 Series II Signature Preamplifier ($10,500) includes a phono stage and some serious improvements over the outgoing platform:
Much of the engineering prowess inherent in these world-class preamps has been transferred to the new TL5.5. New fully regulated power supplies are similar to those of its bigger siblings and the unit is now fully balanced, for inputs as well as outputs. Similarly, VTL’s latest thinking from our new and acclaimed TP-6.5 Signature phono stage is now applied to the optional MC phono stage, which can be easily retrofitted internally. It offers 68dB of gain and a balanced output, with a JFET/12AU7 high current MC stage (or high-grade stepup transformer), split-pole passive RIAA stage with a dual 12AX7 MM stage for maximum headroom voltage swing. Triple-precision power supply regulation and full gain and load setting with RIAA enhanced and rumble cut functions translate to a clean and quiet yet dynamic sound that brings vinyl to life!
This was matched to the S-200 Signature Stereo Amplifier ($12,500) features eight KT-88 tubes and is good for a very healthy 200wpc. This amp is derived from the highly pedigreed MB-450 and MB-185 Series III Signature mono blocks, and here, we found it clad in a lovely black chassis.
Hefty ropes of bright blue Cardas Clear cables were used throughout.
While Bel Canto electronics handled the digital conversion, while I was in the room, all playback came from the Grand Prix Audio Monaco Turntable ($23,500), mounted with a Tri-Planar Ultimate 12 tonearm, with a carbon fiber wand and pure silver wiring ($9,800), in turn mounted with the flagship Anna cartridge from Ortofon ($8,924).
The sound in this room was incredible.
Rich, layered, with oodles of detail and delivered with tone and slam, I was in heaven. Sign me up. Take it away. Gimme. Gimme!
Of all the bits in here, I was most surprised by the VTL I have had very limited exposure to their mid-line stuff as Luke Manley tends to only show his top-shelf stuff — and that, he tends to only show with Wilson. Seeing it here was not only a pleasure, the sound quality was something of a shock. I might need to give them a call at some point [cough].
The next room was complete different, and yet, not. Parasound electronics paired with one of my all-time favorite stand-mount loudspeakers, the Joseph Audio Pulsar ($7,700/pair — Sound Anchor stands were another $750/pair).
The Parasound JC2bp preamplifier ($4,795) was paired with the A21 stereo amplifier ($2,495). Analog again ran the tunes, this time into a Parasound JC 3+ phono ($2,995). The source in question was an SME 10 turntable with an SME Model 10 300 Series tonearm ($8,100 for the combo) and mounted with an MC Windfeld cartridge from Ortofon.
Kimber cables were used throughout.
Taken by itself, this room was dynamite. The little Pulsars certainly didn’t sound little, and the electronics drove the living snot out of them. Fed by the analog system, the tunes straddled a line between tone and speed, and the result was balanced and immersive.
Taken together, the bigger room with the VTL electronics was fuller, more rounded and generally my cuppa tea. Of course, the total system price was three times what the “littler” system cost, but to my ears, the difference was obvious and big — but I do wonder if that’s my bias leaking through.
Doesn’t matter. What was clear was that Audiohouse was rockin’ RMAF and was very clearly showing off their flexibility in catering to varied listeners. Kudos to them — this was a great visit.