Down the hall there was a cosy booth with all things Soundsmith, including Peter Ledermann and his trusted director Chris Sommovigo. They invited us in for a listen, the lure was the 7th generation of the notorious strain gauge cartridge, which is actually more of a system as it requires its own specific electronics. On this occasion they brought the top of the line Signature 810 pre-amp which features “the SG function plus 4 line inputs & tape monitor, front panel “touch” & remote control input switching, volume, mute and power with full Strain Gauge performance displays and lighting intensity control”, a frequency extension up all the way to 70KHz and no RIAA equalization as the SG system is a volume displacement one.
Rest of the system included amps and Monarch speakers by Soundsmith along with a gorgeous VPI HR-X turntable with Schroeder Reference SQ and VPI JMW 12 tonearms. While I can’t say I am familiar with Soundsmith’s amplifiers and speakers the system performed very well, with a sense of ease on female voices and chamber music that went down in my book as among the most fatigue-free sessions of the entire show. After listening to all those 6feet tall speakers trying to impress with the sheer volume and SPLs this was an audiophile’s oasis.