by Rafe Arnott
Triangle Art turntables are not for the faint of heart, or pocketbook. Walking into their room at T.H.E. Show is like walking into what I imagine turntable heaven looks like. If you’re religious at all (or not), I liken the experience to going to the Sistine Chapel.
Lots of gold, lots of grandeur, angelic music floating ethereally all about and beatific faces with eyes closed, bodies seated and swaying gently to the beat in aural supplication among the pews of seats splayed out in front of Triangle Art president Tom Vu’s altar of sonic bliss.
The turntable taking care of duties from the pulpit this weekend was the company’s flagship Ultimate LE ($129,000 US) with the Osiris 12″ tonearm in Makassar Ebony ($5,800 US) and Apollo Onyx Stone MC cart ($8,000) feeding into Vu’s own custom Tri-Titan step-up transformer ($3,500), a NAT Magnetic Status pre-amp and NAT Magma monoblocks with the gigantic M100 tube pumping out 170 watts of pure Class-A power. Everything was wired up with Triangle Art Reference Rhea cabling running into Acapella Cellini speakers.
Like I said, not for the faint of heart.
I’m somewhat familiar with the Acapella’s sound, which is very transparent and lets you know immediately what’s coming down the pipe, so getting a handle on the TA sound was almost a no brainer because the first thing you notice is how inky-black the background is coming from their ‘tables.
Despite the hotel room limitations (the Cellini’s and those NAT mono blocks easily pressurized and overloaded the room), there was no getting around just how big a sound stage the Ultimate LE and Onyx cart were throwing. Listening to the Classic Records 200g Time Out by Dave Brubeck, crammed Dave, Paul Desmond, Eugen Wright and Joe Morello into the space well behind the speakers, and they played life-sized.
Everything sounded much bigger than I’m used to for presentation in such a small space. No small feat considering the size of the room. The neat trick is, the band stayed life-sized despite the room dimensions, the cart and TT effortlessly presenting every nuance of “Strange Meadow Lark” in startling clarity and authority.
This is a turntable and cart combo to keep with you for the rest of your life, the cool thing being if you think heaven is waiting at the end of your life’s journey, you can hear a preview for years to come with the Ultimate LE and Onyx cart.