Elite Audio Systems out of San Francisco, California created a very unique, and Zen-like listening space at the Los Angeles Audio Show. They had put up a large semi-transparent photographic background which transported you upon entering the room into an ethereal forest, and set the mood to one of chill out zone. A major departure from the usual plain-Jane hotel room with folding chairs that make up the bulk of demonstration rooms at hifi shows in North America.
So it was with real interest that I sat down, and took in the gear, and sound they had curated for show goers. A pair of beautiful Kharma Elegance dB9 loudspeakers stood poised to the side, but dominating the set-up was the massive, and squat Viola Labs Bravo II Reference Amplifier (350 Watts/Eight Ohms, 1,200 Watts/Eight Ohms in Bridge Mode) with matching power supply (260 lbs/set), which were being fed by the Viola Labs Sonata Preamplifier. Digital duties were being handled by the punchy, and dynamic CH Precision D1, but it was the analog source, and Linn LP12 in Klimax configuration that truly cast a spell over me while listening.
This is one of my very favourite turntable configurations, and I’ve had the pleasure of hearing it in various systems a number of times, and I’m always struck at how infinitely capable the venerable LP12 is at dominating the soundscape. It’s rock-solid pitch control, inherent musicality, and deep bass output (without sacrificing one thin shade of air, space, or transparency on the top end, or midrange tonality, true-timbre or texture in the lower-mids) are hallmarks of the Linn turntable sound.
That classic Linn sound came through in no uncertain terms via the Viola/Kharma combination and I was impressed at the lack of colouration I perceived throughout the frequency spectrum – in particular on stringed-instrument notes, and the accuracy of the projection of stringed-instrument body weight, and size in the sound stage on a number of cuts from different LPs – the sign of an amplification circuit doing exactly what it is designed to do: not add anything extraneous to the audio signal.
This room was a true oasis at the LA Show, and once again highlighted the expertise, and effort put forward by knowledgable dealers curating different manufacturers for truly impressive sound.