AXPONA 2016: Ortofon and Zanden soothe the savage beast

A legendary cartridge reborn. The Ortofon A95 ($6,495 USD).

axponaThere’s a lot of different sound to be heard at any given hi-fi, or audiophile trade show. Demo rooms vying for attention like small children at daycare who haven’t seen their parents all day can be distracting, and make focusing-in on the music an exercise in futility at times. But, once in a while you stumble, or stagger, into a demonstration that possesses the key to unlock the sonic tumblers of your mind, and as they become aligned, and the key can turn freely, you realize that a door is opening into a  hi-fi equivalent of stumbling across classical music being played by a quartet in the jungle.

TW-Acoustic Raven turntable ($12,000 USD), and TW-10.5 tonearm ($5,500 USD).
AXPONA coverage brought to you by Underwood HiFi, Exogal and Emerald Physics

Welcome to the High Fidelity Services room. This was another system that had obviously been carefully curated by someone who values musicality. The Zanden Audio 6000 stereo push-pull KT-120 amplifier ($25,000 USD), 3100 pre-amplifier ($12,500 USD), and 1200 MK 3 phono stage ($25,000 USD)  have a unique sonic signature which I greatly appreciate, due in part I think, to the use of valve-rectification, zero, or minimal negative feedback, and large output transformers, which in my experience helps create a lush sound. The Verity Audio Parsifal Anniversary 3-way floorstanders in high gloss piano white ($24,995 USD/pair), were speaking my kind of tight bass, gorgeous tone, and powerful dynamics, with point-source imaging thrown in for good measure.

Sitting pretty with Zanden.
Powerful, incisive, with excellent attack on notes, and lasting decay. The Ortofon A95.

The Orotofon A95 LOMC cartridge is an exquisite example of what a cartridge manufacturer can achieve when it focuses with single-minded intensity to bring all of its expertise to bear in ripping musical information out of vinyl grooves. This is an extremely punchy, dynamic-as-all-hell cart with stygian bass, absolutely amazing micro-detail, bloom to piano, and horn notes, and incredibly accurate tonality. It’s an absolute powerhouse of a cartridge, and the Raven GT ‘table allowed it to freely express itself without hindrance.

Tip ‘o the hat to High Fidelity on this room.