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AXPONA2016: Highwater Sound rescues the soul

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Peder af Ugglas gets his LP Autumn Shuffle LP spun on the TW-Acustic GT SE ($12,500 USD).

axponaJeffrey Catalano of Highwater Sound is one of those people who put a smile on my face every time I see him. To be honest, I smiled when I saw his name in the AXPONA guide, and I smiled again when I walked up to his demo room on the third floor at the Westin O’Hare, and then I smiled even wider when I walked in and saw Jeffrey sitting down in front of another gorgeous system, his eyes closed, totally into the amazing guitar playing of Peder af Ugglas that was saturating the room like sunlight as it poured forth from the Hørning Hybrid Systems Eufrodite MK IV Ellipse loudspeakers ($32,000 USD) that were fronting New Audio Frontiers amplification, and the stunning TW-Acustics GT turntable with two TW 10.5 tonearms ($5,500 USD/each), Miyajima Lab Madake stereo LOMC cartridge ($6,000 USD), a Zero Mono ($2,000 USD), and Miyajima ETR Step-Up Transformer – SUT – ($1,995 USD).

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Jeffrey at Newport Beach last summer.

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AXPONA coverage brought to you by Underwood HiFi, Exogal and Emerald Physics

award-sighting-smCatalano is always spinning something I’ve never heard of, but that I always want to hear more of. This day in Chicago was no different in many ways from when I’ve seen Jeffrey in Newport Beach or Denver, and just like those shows, he had set up a killer system that was all about synergy.

I know I’ve used that word more often than not lately when describing outstanding systems, but since I’m a huge proponent of careful component matching, synergy is what I throw down most as the objective of these systems, and this one of those synergistic systems. AXPONA is a big, busy show with sh*t-tons of rooms and vendors spread across several floors that you have to muscle through like Donkey Kong levels. After two days  of jumping barrels all I wanted to do was chill out with Jeff, talk music, and listen to whatever he thought I might like, but most likely hadn’t heard yet. He didn’t disappoint, and I got another three LPs that I’ve added to my want list on Discogs.

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Extremely well thought-out, synergistic, and dynamic sounding with all the nuance, micro-detail, and exquisite tone I’ve come to expect from Miyajima cartridges.

Catalano likes to mix things up a bit for shows, but the carefully curated systems he presents produce rich, tonal palettes for the ear, and capture the imagination with their natural presentation, and eyebrow-raising imaging capabilities.

Amplification consisted of the New Audio Frontiers Stradivari Line Stage ($10,000 USD), Phono Stage ($11,500 USD), and Stereo 845 SE Amplifier ($12,500). Zen Sati provided interconnects, cables, and mains cords.

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Sweet home Miyajima.

I didn’t want to leave Highwater Sound, but that mustachioed Luigi was on my back, and I had more barrels to jump in the halls of the Westin O’Hare. I’m already looking forward to seeing what Catalano will sonically delight with at T.H.E. Show in Newport Beach next month, and as far as AXPONA was concerned, this room was an absolute standout. Again. Thanks Jeffrey.

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About Rafe Arnott (317 Articles)

Editor and Creative Director for Part-Time Audiophile & The Occasional Magazine.

1 Comment on AXPONA2016: Highwater Sound rescues the soul

  1. Dave Stanard // May 3, 2016 at 5:48 PM //

    juice box pro se – Silver Circle Audio. If Jeff chose it, it must be damned good.

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