By Rafe Arnott
Edward Ku of Element Acoustics in Vancouver has an infectious smile and genuine love for high-end audio. His three room set-ups were well thought out and displayed a real knack for building synergistic systems from the ground up, with the idea being each successive room built on, and expanded on the previous (but lower priced) room’s strengths.
The first room I visited Friday night that Edward had put together was what I’d refer to as the gateway drug of the lower tier of the upper-end of H-Fi systems I’m familiar with.
Consisting of a VPI Prime/VPI 3D-printed arm and Lyra Etna MC cartridge and an Accuphase DP-410 CD player/Weiss Medea+ DAC front end, Edward ran these through an Accuphase AD-30 phono stage and E-600 integrated amplifier and out to a pair of Franco Serblin Accordo bookshelf speakers and beautiful Lawrence Audio AMT Violins.
The sound was well-balanced, very clear and open (Lyra!) and both sets of speakers did an impressive job of disappearing into the room, with the Violins and their larger cabinets edging out the Accordos for that all-important (to me) lower midrange body and heft.
Voices were nuanced and every inflection and breath was reproduced with realistic tonal accuracy and a wide, if somewhat two-dimensional sound stage (remember peeps, these are hotel rooms).
Both analog and digital sources had a sweet appeal that gave me a warm, fuzzy feeling.
This was a dynamic, and very linear sound that didn’t emphasize one specific frequency range – there was no sacrifice to be heard in the upper or lower registers, with smooth, completely grainless extension and plenty of air in the treble, bass that was solid and tight (not stygian mind you) but enough – to my ears, with a rather spread out sound that made it easy to follow individual instruments even for a plebeian such as I.
No congestion here.
Think of this system as a Norah Jones/Astrud Gilberto mashup for people with moderately deep pockets.
Up next: Edward’s Burmester/Transrotor/Koetsu room and my unabashed lust for handmade stoned-bodied cartridges.
- Franco Serblin Accordo – $16,000 CAN
- Lawrence Audio AMT Violin – $11,000 CAN
- CD Player: Accuphase DP-410 – $6,999 CAN
- DAC: Weiss Medea+ – $22,000
- Music server: Weiss 301 – $12,995
- Turntable: VPI Prime – $4,700 CAN
- Cartridge: Lyra Etna – $8,600 CAN
- Phono stage: Accuphase AD-30 – $2,000 CAN
- Integrated amplifier: Accuphase E-600 – $12,999 CAN
- Power Conditioner: Accupahse PS520 – $7,999 CAN
- Cables: Siltech/ Crystal cable