RMAF 2016: Nagra, Kronos, and Avalon Acoustics provide precision with emotion

I have seen the light.

This was probably the most beautiful looking room at Rocky Mountain Audio Fest this year to me. I mean your eyes just kinda went ‘CAYOOGA!!’ in a Loony Toons cartoon character (think old-fashioned car horn) kind of way when you clocked all the Nagra gear, the Kronos ‘table, and the sick, sick, sick veneer on the Avalon Indra loudspeakers that were being bathed in an ethereal, other-worldly glow amidst the murky room darkness.

One of the sexiest beasts in analog.
Grain to die for.
Stay classy Nagra. 384 Khz, USB converter, DSD 2x, and DXD ($15,000 USD).
Rocky Mountain Audio Festival coverage brought to you by Noble Audio.

Once you got over the breathtaking look of the room, you realized just how top shelf this kit was. The Kronos Pro Turntable ($38,500 USD), and Black Beauty Tonearm ($8,500 USD) were at the mercy of an EMT Jubilee JSD 75 cartridge  ($3,500 USD) which had seduced the Nagra VPS Phono ($7,400 USD), Nagra Classic Preamp ($12,000 USD), and Nagra Classic Amp – in bridged mono pair – ($16,000 USD) into letting them have their way with the  88 dB Avalon Indra loudspeakers ($20,000 USD). This was music as experience, and it was an emotional, gripping  one. I’ve heard various flavors of Avalon Acoustics offerings, and they produce an absolutely stunning, deep, spatial, 3D presentation with the ability to recreate the air of a recording space like very few other designs can, at any price. Nagra gear to my ears is simply a medium for transporting analog (or digital) signals to whatever transducers you hook up to them; they provide incredibly transparent, but powerful, output.

Precision control of cone excursions.
Elektro-Mess Technik JSD 75 cartridge.

Kronos produces one of the most provocative-looking ‘tables I know of, and while they are absolutely mesmerizing to watch in action as the electro-acoustic transference takes place, it’s in listening to them that true metaphysical nirvana takes place. The formidable foundational solidity, the midnight black background, and pitch perfection the Kronos provides allows for intoxicating musicality to take place. I don’t know about you, but getting intoxicated off the music (and not just the single malt) is what got me into this business in the first place.

About Rafe Arnott 389 Articles
Editor of InnerFidelity and AudioStream