Capital Audiofest 2016: Well Pleased with Alta, Antipodes, Aqua

CAF-Alta-Well-Pleased-4490

Mark Sossa of Well Pleased A/V was doing his level best to pull together a world-class audio system, and doing it on a budget. Oh, and don’t think I missed those IKEA platforms — I have four of them, myself. Value, value, value … it’s all about the value.

Anyway, Mark was apparently marching to a budget — not a crazy budget, no, but for about $12k retail, you could have walked away with a system that would blown away almost every contender in play. This was epic stuff — and the most expensive component was the server.

Antipodes is, to all reports, a most excellent audio source — and by “most excellent”, I mean that. Some not terribly apocryphal reports indicate that notoriously picky PTA Emeritus reviewer Mal Kenney was very impressed by his review sample, and while I have not yet had the pleasure, I hope to one day be equally impressed with my own experiences. In the meantime, I should note that Antipodes servers are not inexpensive — the DS, shown here with the SSD hard drive, is their “entry-level” offering, and those offerings climb the pricing chart rather swiftly by adding all manner of audiophile goodness. And yes, it apparently does matter. Who knew.

award-sighting-smThis room also marked yet another showing by Alta Audio, the brand featured so prominently in the extremely generous CAF giveaway this year, showing their entry-level offering too — the IO has, nonetheless, all the Alta features, including damping and bass response and that delightfully transparent ribbon tweeter.

Continuing on the same theme, we have the La Voce from Aqua Acoustic. This “entry-level” DAC is PCM-only, but … again … we have yet another over-achiever. This DAC apparently rates quoting from truly terrible b-movie horror reels, but I had yet to confirm its sonic excellence with my own ears … till now. This was convincing — we’re going to be taking a harder look at Aqua as soon as we can arrange it.

This room was surprising on pretty much every level — the entry-level rarely sounds anything like this. Not cheap, no. But for these brands, these offerings mark their value point — and they’re worth exploring. Ta Freakin’ Da.

Sossa had some great sound in here — love the theme, love the sound. Rich and relaxed — not a common thread, but definitely one worth celebrating. This was very nice work.

  • Alta Audio IO speakers – $3000
  • aqua acoustic quality La Voce S2 D/A – $2700
  • Antipodes DS-SSD server – $4200
  • CLONES 25iR (Integrated Amp) – $1200
  • Anticables used throughout ($2000 for everything used)

CAF-Alta-Well-Pleased-4489