RMAF 2015: Welcome to vinyl heaven, with TW Acustic, Cessaro Horns, Tron Electric


rmaf-2015-200x200I’m almost disappointed when Jeff Catalano of High Water Sound chooses to not go banana-boats at audio shows. Is that bad? I think it might be. Yeah, yeah — his room sounds great. Yeah, yeah — the vinyl selection is incredible. Yeah, yeah — the turntable is awesome, the electronics are to die for, blah blah blah.

But did he bring the monster speakers!?!

A few years ago, Jeff brought these insanely huge Affascinate horns from Cessaro (for the record, these are not the largest speaker Cessaro Horn Acoustics makes), and I suppose you could say I’m spoiled. I heard the big Betas at Munich. Those were pretty awesome, even in a horrible room. Me? I’m ready for big horns. Big horns! Big horns! Bring out the big horns!

So, Jeff, being a contrary sonofagun, brought some petite (by comparison) horns from Cessaro, the new Wagner ($65k):

The Wagner is based on the Chopin, but uses the same cabinet material of the Cessaro Liszt. It uses a different midrange driver to the Chopin and this is matched to the midrange horn similar to that used in the Cessaro Gamma. All this plus a new crossover design makes for a very interesting new horn loudspeaker.

Before I forget, here’s the list of the other delights found in the room:

  • TW-Acustic: Black Knight ($40,000), w/ 2 TW 10.5 Tone Arms ($5,500 each), Cartridges: Miyajima Lab Madake ($5,995), Miyajima Labs Zero Mono ($1,995)
  • TW-Acustic: RPS 100 Phono Stage ($17,000)
  • TW-Acustic: 300B SE Mono Blocks ($18,000/pair)
  • Tron-Electric: Syren II GT Preamplifier ($55,000)
  • Silver Circle Audio: TCHAIK 6 Power Conditioner ($10,500)
  • Silent Running Audio: Scuttle Rack & Ohio XL Bases (varies)
  • ZenSati: Seraphim Mini Interconnects and Speaker Cables (varies)
  • ZenSati: Authentica Powercords (varies)
  • Shun Mook Acoustic: Room Acoustics (varies)

I kinda want to be Jeff. I mean, a little. I’m sure it’s horribly expensive, living down on Water Street and all that, but man-oh-man, does that man do music. Best of all (for those of us not-Jeff), he gets to come home after whatever-kind-of-day, pull an LP out of his million-LP collection, and play it on a system that costs more than my house. And I have a nice house.

Jeff inspires horrible, achingly syrupy clichés about the absolute sound (barf, retch), but the worst part is that his tastes run parallel to mine. Okay — I’ll be honest. More properly, Jeff has corrupted me completely — I’ve been buying from him for almost as long as I’ve been writing about audio. I bought an TW-Acustic AC-3 turntable and Raven phono from him years ago, and I’m fully expecting them both to be buried with me. I blame my fascination with vinyl and horns and low-power amps, firmly on him.

Here at RMAF, I didn’t linger much — the room fell under the purview of another Traveler (Lee). But I heard enough that I had to share that I was eating that sound up like my 8-year-old daughter goes after syrup for her pancakes — with an intensity and single-mindedness that’ll make you back away, and slowly, from the table. So, what did I hear? Dynamics. Detail. Air. Grace.

Ultimately, I really don’t think I ought to seek out Jeff’s rooms anymore. The experience is not good for the future of my kids’ college funds.

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About Scot Hull 1062 Articles
Scot started all this back in 2009. He is currently the Publisher here at PTA, the Publisher at The Occasional Magazine, and the Executive Producer at The Occasional Podcast. There are way too many words about him over on the Contributors page.

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