by Rafe Arnott
I have a sickness and I freely admit it, fortunately for me, my sickness is tempered by the restraints of what I consider an average income, and an average lifestyle. So when I tell people I’m writing about a sound system that is pushing the $300,000 envelope (without a turntable), they usually stare at me blankly for a second and then laugh, shaking their heads (same look I get when discussing the nuances of difference in sound between AC/mains cables with my son). I’d imagine this type of reaction is standard too for rare, or antique car and motorcycle enthusiasts, art collectors … and that buddy with 42 pairs of perfect Air Jordans.
My point is that when it comes to true appreciation of the finer things in life; the state of the art, old-world craftsmanship, fanatical attention to detail, all in the pursuit of beauty in any way, shape or form, money doesn’t really come into it.
It’s passion. And passion, like love, doesn’t really obey day-to-day laws of life. Thank God.
The United Home Audio/MBL room at Newport Beach had that passionate sound to my ears, and it was immensely impressive. This was a system, that in my opinion, was put together by people who love music.
The setup consisted of a United Home Audio modified Tascam UHA-HQ Phase 12 OPS two-track 1/4″ 15 IPS reel-to-reel ($20,000+ US, depending on options), MBL 6010D Vorverstarker preamplifiers with four of the absolutely massive MBL 9011 monoblock amps powering the crazy Doctor Who-looking Radialstrahler MBL101E MKII loudspeakers ($260,000+ US, all-in). Cabling was handled by Wireworld Eclipse Series 7.
They were playing all sorts of crazy-rare and I’m sure, priceless, 1/4″ tapes of a bunch of jazz that I didn’t recognize off the top of my head, but man did it sound sweet, authoritative and ridiculously huge.
People in the small audience who were there for the Saturday night listening session I was invited to, all looked like someone had just smacked them in the face when they least expected it, like if the elevator door opened and all of a sudden “THWACK!”
The sound just kept startling you with its scale and impact.
This is not a system for a condo or small home in my opinion, it needs some serious space to breathe and truly be appreciated.
If you have the means, a big enough room to house the kit (and no close neighbors) and an itch to put your hair straight back, then pick up your phone and call UHA.