Some companies do not simply “show up” at Munich High End, they try to dominate the show. Some, like CH Precision, present more than one amazing room — they presented their line of electronics with Stenheim, Wilson Benesch and Vivid Audio, an “en plein” of sophisticated speaker designs among the best out there. Normally I would choose the best sounding room and report just that one, only there was no best; it came down to personal taste, room size and even musical selections.
The Stenheim room was stunning, the size and impact of the reference speakers (not to mention the price, frequency extension, and just about everything else) was simply impressive. The Wilson Benesch speakers on the other hand were pulling a perfect disappearing act and if ones lives in a normal sized house (and not Buckingham Palace), this is where he should be looking.
The Vivid Audio Giya is somewhere in between, at least size wise. Impact is there, soundstage is wide and imaging is precise; paired with the CH amplifiers, the G2 managed to create perfect contours of instruments on stage. Still this would have not been enough for me to cover a third CH room if it was not for the P1 phono stage taking care of the titanium-bodied TechDAS TDC01 Ti cartridge mounted on Graham Phantom tonearm and (perhaps obviously) with the Air Force One taking care of the spinning.
What is so special about this phono stage? Everything. Three balanced inputs two of each are current mode thus perfect for low impedance moving coil cartridges (the TDC01 has a Z of only 1.4 Ohms); the third input is a “classic” voltage design so it can handle moving magnet designs as well. For 24.000 Swiss Francs (close to $24K with today’s exchange rate) you obviously get a fully balanced topology with all discrete parts, ultra wide bandwidth and a noise floor buried 6 ft. underground. If all this is not enough you can add an external power supply for an even lower S/N and an even higher price tag.
In the end there is a reason why CH got so much coverage, all three rooms delivered musical pleasure in spades; with the Giya G2s and that awesome TechDAS analog front end we heard Ray singing and Basie swinging right there with us.