It’s always a good sign when you approach an audio show room and the music sounds great just wafting out the door. Such was the case when I visited the Thrax-EnKlein-Audio Union setup on Sunday afternoon at AXPONA 2016.
The unmistakable trumpet tone of Chet Baker drew me in, and the music was even more lush and lifelike inside. For a moment, I thought I’d stepped into a West Coast nightclub, circa 1959.
Facilitating such audio time-travel was a rig made up of gear largely from Thrax, including the company’s Lyra speakers ($19,500 a pair). The two-way, stand-mounted monitors were considerably smaller than many of the monoliths I’d auditioned the previous three days, but the sound being produced was more alluring than many of those transducers. The famed pinpoint imaging, soundstaging and detail that the best modest-size speakers are known for was here in spades, but there also was a weight and solidity projected by the Lyras that was special.
Providing what I assume was a synergistic match was Thrax’s Teres, a 250-watt hybrid mono power amplifier ($28,500), Dionysos remote-control tube preamp ($19,500) and Maxiumus DAC, which boasted 32 bit/384 khz USB capability ($31,200).
The company also provided a phono preamp named Orpheus ($19,500). That was taking the signal from an Audio Union Dohmann Helix 1 turntable ($37,500), outfitted with an Audio Union Schroeder CB ceramic bearing arm ($4,000). Cabling was EnKlein’s David, including speaker wire ($17,500), interconnects ($14,000) power cords ($5,000) and USB connector ($3,500). Various room treatments and vibration control devices, along with the rack, were by Stillpoints.
It was the Audio Union table that was spinning Baker’s “September Song,” which was part of a jazz compilation that next presented Bill Evans doing “My Foolish Heart.” The Evans track threw a different tonal challenge at the Lyras, but they responded, producing a fine portrayal of the pianist’s attack and phrasing, with notes displaying long decays while staying on pitch.
Overall, there was a “rightness” to the sound that would seem to encourage long-term listening. Kudos to the guys running this room, too, as the volume level was set just right. You just kind of soaked up the music. That’s what I wanted to keep doing as the 4 p.m. show close grew near, but I had doubts my airport cab or American Airlines would be willing to accommodate me. Definitely a system to check out at greater length when the meter’s not running.