Capital Audiofest 2017: Tenacious Sound, exhibits with tenacity


The Story

“Trusting your ears can save you a lot of money.” That’s my version of an old audiophile chestnut. Today this philosophy was proven true by Shayne Tenace of Tenacious Sound. One of the best showcases at Capital Audiofest was a trio of Shayne’s rooms featuring varying levels of refinement and cost. The two rooms of lesser prerequisite financial means were directly in my crosshairs.

Imagine just three components; a Naim All-in-One (streamer/DAC/amp), a pair of TAD bookshelf monitors, and some seriously divine Black Cat cables. That was the gist of Room #308, a room commanded by a pair of TAD ME-1K’s, them being the most expensive component in the chain at $14,290 pr USD. Creating an undoubtedly esoteric system, but also an unobtrusive system at just a click over $23k. I haven’t witnessed or experienced a system with so much WAF before.

Secondly, imagine a system that if by ear you would judge by show references to be in the $20k range, then come to find out you overestimated by about $15k. That was the running theme of Room #309, one of carefully curated components yielding a greater sum than the outright cost of their parts. Centered around Quad’s affordable S Series of loudspeakers, Heed’s more than value friendly Elixir range of electronics, and Audience cables, this room was stupefyingly good. So much so that I deemed room #309 to be my favorite value room at any show I’ve attended this year.


The Sound

Starting with the smaller TAD room, I am welcomed to a crowd of onlookers (or onlisteners). Word around an audio show travels fast, and word is that Tenacious Sound had brought the pain [1] and some outstanding TAD loudspeakers. Before I’ve even found my chair, bass rumble is beating me about the head and face. I’m looking for a sub tucked away behind a banner, or a little man to come out and tell us “Ignore the sub behind the curtain.” Neither action happened, and I find myself abandoning curiosity and just enjoying the bass drum thwacks of Rage Against The Machine’s “Killing In The Name”. The little Naim with all it’s signature Naim sound is doing more than it’s part to push these little TAD’s to convey floorstander level performance. However, the pairing only to my own tastes is a little bass forward, but I just toss that one up to personal issues with Naim’s way of playing well with others. Otherwise, this system provides stellar example of what can be done with as few components as possible to create stunningly full-range hi-end sounds for what should be considered a value proposition.

Falling into the Quad room, it’s here is where things really get serious. I’m blasted by Cantate Domino; pipe organ, bass, open top end sizzle, voices and space. It’s everything you wish for, and nothing you can’t handle. Detail and linearity are delivered by the bucketful, dynamics are seemingly stretched out to the max, and yet everything remains comfortable and listenable. Moving on to Sara Bareilles’ live rendition of “(Sittin’ On) The Dock of The Bay” I am teased with insanity. “Have I really been staring into the corner of a hotel room for eight minutes straight? Yes, I have.” The soundscape is convincing my mind that these walls do not exist, and are merely more illusion than the reality. That to me is the point of hi-fi: to be fooled. So I say to you Shayne Tenace, “fool me, fool me.” 

[1] A form of encouragement to a person or entity (team, group, ect.) to bring the best they have to offer against an opponent.


The Systems

Room #308
Naim Uniti Nova All-in-One (Streamer/DAC/Amp) $6,995 USD
TAD ME-1K Monitors w/ST3 Stands $14,290 pr USD
Black Cat Cable Lupo Speaker Cables $1,750 (3m) USD

Optional Additions (were demonstrated with and without)
Naim NAP 250 DR Power Amplifier $6,995 USD
Naim Uniti Core Music Server $2,995 USD
Audience Au24 SE-i USB Cable
Audience aR2p-TO Power Conditioner

Room #309
Heed Elixir Integrated Amplifier $1,200 USD
Quad S2 Bookshelf Speakers $999 pr USD
Audioquest Type 4 Speaker Cables
Mobile Fidelity Electronics StudioDeck Turntable w/StudioDeck Cartridge $1,149 USD
Audioquest Dragonfly Red DAC $199 USD

Optional Additions (were demonstrated with and without)
Quad S5 Tower Speakers $2,100 pr USD
Black Cat Cable Ghostwire Silverheart Speaker Cables $600 (3m) USD
Heed Dactilus DAC $1,200 USD
Wolf Audio Systems The Cub Digital Audio Server (Streamer) $2,499 USD
(demonstrated with Touch Screen)
Audience aR2-TSSOX Power Conditioner, w/ Au24 SE-i Power Cable
Audience Au24 SX Speaker Cable

1 Comment

  1. Heed doesn’t get enough coverage. Really solid equipment that isn’t overly expensive. I’m curious about the tonal balance of the Quad S5s. Would be great if Eric could chime in on that one…

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