Some rooms at audio shows are like old friends that you haven’t seen for a while.
The Austin Hifi room at the Los Angeles Audio Show was like that. They have a habit of putting together similar systems (musical, simple, dynamic) at the shows they attend, and of using equipment support that looks like something both you, and your significant other would want in your living room. In short, they feature gear I’d want in my personal space; it just looks right. So when I walked in, and sat down in room 434 at the Sheraton Gateway Hotel I felt like I was chilling in someone’s living room, rather than another same-same hotel room.
The gear list was a wonderfully synergistic set-up featuring a vintage Linn Sondek LP12 with Ittok LV II arm, and the British Reson Lexe MC cartridge ($2,600 USD, $3,440 CAN) on the analog side, and the Resolution Audio Cantana Music Center ($6,495 USD, $8,600 CAN) on digital duty. Amplification consisted of the Crimson CS 710 preamplifier – MM/MC phono stage, and remote – ($7,000 USD, $9,260 CAN), and two pairs of the Crimson CS 640-III mono blocs ($6,000/pair USD, $7,940 CAN) feeding into the beautiful Tocaro Model 42 speakers (no crossovers) ($14,000/pair with stands, $18,520 CAN). The sonic arterial was handled by Crimson RM Music Link interconnects, and speaker cables.
The Tocaro 42 is a very interesting design because it has absolutely no crossover (and a five-inch, laser-cut wooden tweeter). Each driver is directly connected to whatever amplifier you choose to hook up to it. As a result it is an incredibly cohesive, and linear speaker that carries a unique sonic signature that to my ears is all about presence. The sound is one of the most tactile of any transducer I’ve heard. The fact that it so directly translating amplification/source means careful matching is key, and here the Crimson/Linn/Resolution kit is able to plug the listener directly into the original musical event, which if you read me at all, you know I’m really into.
With incredible speed on transients, wonderfully organic textures throughout the frequency range, and the ability to faithfully reproduce tone, body, and resonance from instruments, as well as the inherent flesh-and-blood soulfulness of vocals, this was a spectacular little system that doesn’t break the bank, or require an entire room to deliver the music.