RMAF 2016 VIDEO: Tidal, Zanden and The Voice That Is

I have a great job. I’ll never argue that. I go to hi-fi audio shows, and write about the gear that interests me the most, and Tidal Audio is a German high-end audio component, and speaker manufacturer that leaves me restless every time following a listening session. Their designs just do something to me. Rocky Mountain Audio Fest was no different from every other time I’ve heard their kit in a system, so I guess I shouldn’t be surprised that I’m all disjointed now.

Kuzma feeding the Tidal Piano G2 via Zanden electronics.

Doug White, owner of The Voice That Is, a killer boutique dealer based just outside of Philadelphia, PA, was on hand in Denver to help guide me through the rig he’d put together for RMAF. On hand this time was the Tidal Piano Diacera G2 being nourished by a healthy diet of amplification from Zanden Audio out of Japan, now part of the product mix at The Voice That Is.

Zanden may not be a household name; more’s the pity, because their tube-based (and solid-state) amplification and pre-amplification circuitry designs are breathtaking in their transparency and musicality, and called to mind an old Cadillac transmission being downshifted at speed: smooth, solid, with a powerful sense of solidity behind it, and never left me confused about what was happening. I knew my ears had just changed gears when White dropped the needle on this set up.

Rocky Mountain audio Festival coverage brought to you by Noble Audio.
Kuzma Stabi-M ‘table and .3mv Car-30 LOMC
Simple in presentation, but easily invokes complex emotions during playback.

This was a straightforward combination, but once again, while I keep finding simple is always better to my ears, there’s no simple equation or magic bullet to finding out how to build a simple system that will sound amazing from scratch. That’s why knowing good people like Mr. White will always put you waaaaaay ahead of the curve. He’s done all the leg work already, and the fact that he has decades of experience training his ears to know shite from right, is something more people need to take advantage of for their own sake.

award-sighting-smThe Tidal/Zanden/Kuzma combo was visceral, gut-punch engaging, and had lovely leading transients on strings and horn notes, with fat, Sydney Opera House-sized decay on piano notes, along with a more than healthy dose of emotional weight to throw the most stoic audiophile off-kilter. This isn’t a system to analyze or debate the minutiae of which LP version of Norah Jones’ Come Away with Me has more air, and space around her guitar… this is a system to experience music with. All of its beauty, soaring hope, unabashed joy, and heartbreaking sadness. In other words, all the things that make music a part of our lives. A most important part.

Tidal’s proprietary ceramic drivers.

The room

  • TIDAL Audio Piano Diacera G2 Speaker in Stained Mahogany veneer finish $42,900 USD
  • Kuzma CAR-30 LOMC cartridge $2,000 USD
  • Kuzma Stabi-M turntable $19,000 USD and 4-Point tonearm $6,675 USD
  • Zanden M6000 Integrated Amp – $22,000 USD
  • Zanden M120 Phono Stage – $7,500 USD
  • Zanden M3100 Preamp – $12,500 USD
  • Aurender A10 Music Server – $5,500 USD
  • Zanden Cables – price varies
  • StillPoints ESS GRID Rack $8,600 – $12,100 USD varies w/configuration
  • StillPoints Ultra SS Isolators  – $249 USD each
  • StillPoints Ultra 5 Isolators  – $699 USD each
  • StillPoints Ultra 6 Isolators  – $899 USD each

About Rafe Arnott 389 Articles
Editor of InnerFidelity and AudioStream