You ever get the feeling you’ve stumbled into the wrong room, or taken a wrong turn, and ended up somewhere unintended? You find yourself peering around slowly, skeptically, taking things in as you attempt to get your bearings, and figure out just where the hell you are. The Concert Fidelity room at the Hotel Irvine was like that for me. It was late on Saturday afternoon, there was about 10 minutes left until things were scheduled to wind down for the day, and I was sort of limping/staggering around the main floor in an area I hadn’t ventured into yet after hitting about a dozen rooms on the upper floors (Pro tip: I usually start on the top floor, and walk down successive flights at big audio shows to avoid the nervous-laughing masses shoehorned into the elevators) when I randomly opened a door, and walked straight into what I would call a secret audio nirvana.
Two soft-spoken Japanese men sat waaaaay over at the back of the large room, and gave me a friendly bow as I looked over at them, and blinked several times. I was desperately trying to get my eyes to focus on the gear that was making such sweet sounding music. The tone of Miles Davis’ trumpet was absolutely astonishing me, with incredible sustained pitch stability on long horn blasts, and every nuance of his embouchure articulated in startling detail. Transients, and dynamics on the blat were bleeding on their edges they were so sharp.
The Maxonic TW7000B field-coil loudspeakers (25Hz – 20 kHz, $40,000 USD) feature a very Altec 604 8G-inspired vibe to them, and their sound was reminiscent of other Altec’s I’ve heard over the years: fantastic golden-era tone, supreme mid-range harmonics, and as I mentioned already – ballsy dynamics, and blinding speed. At 104 dB efficiency, the two-way coaxial design’s 15-inch woofer does not need much power to get them moving a lot of air.
I was overly focused on the gorgeous 9 watts/Ch Directly Heated Triode 300B-equipped Concert Fidelity CF-i300B Integrated Amplifier ($10,000 USD). It was juicing the Maxonics with plenty of grunt, and no lack of headroom as I kept urging my accommodating hosts to wind the volume knob well past noon on the dial. The louder the system got, the better it sounded, and I could tell the boys were having difficulty deciding whether they were digging the bearded white dude who wanted the jazz at concert level, or getting nervous about possible brain damage from the SPLs. The racks were choked with beautiful, simple kit from the company, including their Reference Series CF-080LSX2 tube-hybrid pre-amplifier, the DAC-040 BD (battery powered!) tube-hybrid DAC, and the JFET (Class A push-pull configuration) Moving Coil phonostage SPA-4C.
From the Concert Fidelity website:
The CF-i300B is an all-tube integrated amplifier featuring a pair of the 300B output tube driven by a pair of 6SJ7/6SJ7GT/5693. Rectification is handled by a 5AR4/GZ34. The directly heated triode amp outputs 9 watts/8ohm per channel. The circuit topology is extremely simple and signal paths are short. The CF-i300B has four sets of single-ended inputs and one of them can be switched to balanced (XLR). Users can select the speaker output impedance between 4 ohm and 8 ohm. As a bonus, it has a solid-state headphone amp which can drive either pair of a single-ended or balanced headphones.
Ultra Eminent BC… only 0.6 Ohm internal impedance
CF-080LSX2 Reference linestage
Exquisite attention to detail in construction.
I liked this room so much, I went back Sunday too, and just hung out for a while, and had a coffee. I also recommended it several times to people asking me “what rooms should I check out?” A great vibe, with great gear, and friendly hosts. Two thumbs up.
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