RMAF 2017: Xact Audio, CH Precison, Zu Audio, and Frank Schröder

Xact Audio XX Mag Drive turntable.

This was not exactly your father’s stereo system… no wood veneer here, but that’s what drew me into the room: the look of all that gleaming CH Precision gear, (A1 amplifier, L1 preamplifier, X1 Power Supplies) and the two big, black, and silver Zu Audio Omen Def. MK IVs ($18,500 USD) that were hooked up to it. I’ve reviewed CH Precision previously, and have always been quite taken with the articulate, sophisticated, and tonally-balanced sound this Swiss company achieves through their circuit designs, so when I saw it paired with the badass, and incredibly transparent Zu MK IVs, I knew this would be fun.

Noble-RMAF-2017 940 x 300
RMAF 2017 coverage is proudly sponsored by Noble Audio.
Lifelike scale, and room presence.

Lest all this signal amplification, and transducer glitter blind your eyes, did I mention that German tonearm guru Frank Schroeder was also in the room? He was staying close to the source, and spinning the black discs on a XX MagDrive turntable ($19,000 USD) with his magnesium-wand fitted Linear Tracker tonearm ($12,500 USD) kitted with a Stradivarius vanden hul MC cartridge. There was a nest of what looked like 30 metres of cable provided by Echole.

Schroeder Liner Tracking tonearm.

I listened to a variety of LPs Schroeder was choosing, and some requests by show goers seated in the room, and I was impressed at the warmth, and delicacy of stringed instruments on classical LPs, and the true-tone colour of horns on a few jazz cuts. But the most impressive takeaway from my short time in this room was the accuracy of scale to performers, and instruments. There was plenty of air up top, the midrange, and bass had guttural impact, but it was that lifelike scale, and human presence in the room recreated by the system that made for a truly enjoyable session.

–Rafe Arnott