Baron Timothy de Paravicini is a name I instantly associate with exquisite-sounding audio gear. He was involved with legendary brands like Luxman, Quad, and Musical Fidelity – works closely with a number of high-end recording studios such as Mobile Fidelity, and The Exchange – and put his own indelible stamp on hi-fi electronics by founding EAR Yoshino in 1976, in England. He’s a man with some keen interest in the Japanese underground, ultra-rare, horn-system scene too. I love listening to his gear, and when I found out I was walking into the EAR room at T.H.E. Show featuring two gear premiers happening simultaneously, I got my audiophile giddy-up on. A look next to the Townshend Audio Seismic stands ($3,200 USD) revealed a balanced pair of 509 mono blocks ($15,700 USD) was having signal passed to them via the 912 pre-amplifier (x2 phono inputs, $13,000 USD). Cabling was being handled by Jorma, and Waveform Fidelity.
de Paravicini’s kit was paired up in Newport with Swedish speaker maker Marten, and was moving plenty of air through the diamond-tweeter equipped Marten Mingus Quintet three-way ($50,000 USD) that was making its North American premier, along with the world premier of the Helius Viridia ($6,500 USD) turntable (based on the company’s Alexis) which was feeding it the analog groove vibes courtesy the Helius Omega Silver Ruby 10-inch tonearm ($5,225 USD), and Kiseki Purpleheart LOMC cartridge ($3,300 USD).
I spent a month with a Kiseki Purpleheart on an Oracle deck, and I can tell you as transparent, and uncolored as this cartridge is – and fun, I mean, really fun – I didn’t find it to be the last word in bass, so hearing the bottom end that was pressurizing the room in this set-up, had me looking closer at the Helius tonearm, and ‘table, because it was definitely allowing the Kiseki to trawl the groove depths.
The EAR sound to me always has a bit of the divine in it; highs are clear, crisp without burn (and with the Purpleheart extended, sweet, but never syrupy), and there is a sense of air around notes which is a bit rarefied to my ears, in the sense of true tone, and realistic timbre, without going lean or fatty, which some tube pre/power set-ups can convey IME. Martens (this Mingus sports brand-new Accuton 7-inch bass drivers) tend to be precision transducers regardless of the kit I’ve heard them paired with: you’re always going to get exactly what they’re being fed. This was a carefully crafted mix of very fine gear that portrayed delicacy, immediacy, palpable slam on the lowest octaves (those bass drivers were at full excursion while I was in the room), and most of all, an uncanny ability to implant the idea of the suspension of musical disbelief. The music was there with you, always surrounding you, and that deserves some credit.