Nagra has been on a great streak lately (as in the last 40 years or so) and after introducing the HD Power amplifiers it was time to throw in the game a top of the line HD pre-amp, capable of delivering the same, top notch performance as the monos. The two chassis HD pre sports the classic, gorgeous Nagra looks with massive aluminum milled knobs and big VU meter while the external power supply sits underneath thanks to a mini rack that houses both devices while eliminates vibrations.
The system also included a Nagra CD player and a Classic DAC while on the analog front end an Avid Acutus SP turntable fitted with SME IV tonearm and Lyra Atlas cartridge connected to the Avid Pulsare II phono stage took care of the black records. What was new to me were the speakers, the Red House model from the local ESA company, based in Warsaw. This has been a common treat of several rooms, well established European and American brands joining forces with locals. The ESA Red House speakers were tall at more than a meter and a half, and somewhat narrow, featuring a D’Appolito configuration with nothing less than three 13″ woofers. Stepping behind the speakers confirmed my hunch, the drivers were mounted in open baffle. Still efficiency was high-ish thanks to the big woofers, a declared 91dB/1W.
Going through the company’s site I found out that the rest of the models are not open baffle, in fact most are traditional boxed enclosures with the Red House being unique in both the looks and design principles. Still, the sound was particularly open, with good sense of flow, well proportioned bottom end and excellent presence in the mids. Thanks in great part to the Nagra & Avid combo? Probably yes but a well designed open baffle speaker too.