You ever have someone tell you something like “you really got to hear these speakers, they’re amazing. I want to marry them.” Well, I haven’t, so when Marc Phillips of Colleen Cardas Imports told me that before he’d even had a beer I knew I was going to be in for something out of the ordinary. And I was.
One of the most difficult system expectations in my experience is synergy. This is a word many reviewers have used to describe a sound (I love to use it, because it’s apt) , and unless you’ve got an end-to-end solution from the same company where all the components are voiced, and built to perfectly compliment one another, it is a Holy Grail of achievement for those putting a set-up together from disparate manufacturers.
It takes a great ear, intimate technical understanding of the components involved for proper performance, and impedance matching, and the real key to synergy: voicing. If you’ve got your speakers, amps, cabling and source dialed-in, and then you swap out a cartridge, or change tonearms for example… poof! All that hard work can disappear like a magician’s trick right before your eyes, and ears. This is why people suffer so brutally at the hands of upgraditis. But Phillips had conjured up some real magic here. Drawing on his years of expertise, and also showcasing a diaspora of Down Under artistic sonic technology, he had built a truly synergistic system composed of gear that sounded like it had all been built to mate seamlessly with one another.
The system comprised the Brigadiers Audio BA2 loudspeakers ($12,000 p/pair), the PureAudio Duo 2 power amplifier ($9,500 USD), PureAudio Control pre-amp ($9,500 USD), PureAudio Vinyl phono pre-amp ($4,500 USD), the Mark Döhmann Helix 1 turntable ($40,000 USD), The Wand Tonearm 10.3 Master Series (TBD approx. $2,500 USD), Les Davis Audio 3D2 constrained-layer dampers ($125 USD per/12 pack), and Furutech cabling, and power line conditioner Ftp-615 (approx. $725 USD).
I went, and chilled in the room for about 30 minutes on Saturday afternoon at Newport, and to be honest – despite the non-stop conversations going on in the room – I was deeply impressed at the emotive impact I experienced listening to this set-up. This system was able to immediately connect me with the music being played in a way that put the hair on my arms on-end. It had spooky-good presence, warmth, accuracy, timbre, tone, and pitch. I mean, this was like a car accident in slow motion for me: I couldn’t stop myself from just sitting there with my mouth open. I left, and hit a few other rooms to cleanse my palette (so to speak), and told Phillips I’d be back first thing Sunday morning to have another listen. My thinking was that perhaps I’d just been tired, or overwhelmed after a day of listening to some serious hi-fi kit… well, Sunday morning, coffee in hand, I was back for more, and I was once again all deer-in-the-headlight with what I was hearing. Not only were the Brigadiers completely pressurizing the room with palpable, and realistic bass slam, they were taking highs, and mids to the Nth degree of finesse, and subtlety. I could use a lot of descriptors to continue my attempt to relate to you how great this set-up sounded, but don’t take my word for it, make an appointment with Phillips to hear for yourself.