I’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.