CAF 2018: McGary Audio, Salk Signature Sound, Exogal, AntiCables; mouthwatering sound


McGary Audio shows us what thirty watts can do, Salk Signature Sound gives us the BeAT, Exogal supplies the tunes, and AntiCables once again binds together one of the best sounding systems of the show.


The Story

“Blindsided”, is a word I used in my show report notes. I know the Salk Signature Sound… sound, but to me the SONG 3 BeAT loudspeaker is something extra special. The new SONG 3 BeAT features a single Satori beryllium tweeter (Be) mounted atop an Audio Technology (AT) 4″ mid-range, while down below a 7.5″ woofer handles bass down to 33Hz. The overall loudspeaker sensitivity is rated 88db.

Jim Salk says SONG 3 BeATs are easy to drive and it didn’t take long for Mike McGary (founder of McGary Audio) to prove that point exceedingly. The 30 wpc of tube power from Mr. McGary’s SA-1 Vacuum Tube Stereo Amplifier moved the new Salk speakers into action exceptionally well. The SA-1 amplifier is outfitted with new old stock G.E. 6BQ7A, 6SN7GTB, and Russian KT77 Gold Lion tubes. Chassis finishes for the SA-1 are available custom colors, and with that the SA-1 looks as good as it sounds.

The Sound

Listening to Tracy Chapman’s – Fast Car, a standard of both audio shows and my life, something felt new and unfamiliar. I don’t think I had ever heard Fast Car played on a tube amplified system before. Maybe this is true, and even if it wasn’t, this felt like the first time. Everything about the texture and placement of Tracy’s guitar in the mix was different and better.

Realism or some facsimile of it, were involving me emotionally to a song I thought I had long reconciled with. It’s crazy how something so familiar, and at times overplayed, can gain new life with more audible insight. But insight and detail alone were not the story. Bass power and texture exhibited from the system was mouthwatering. I turned to the guy bathed in silhouette behind me and said, “This is really good, don’t you agree?” To which he said, “I do.”

The guy bathed in silhouette turned out to be Mike McGary.


The Award Sighting


The audio show circuit can seem more like an audio show circus at times. However, every so often a standout show-going experience happens in an audio show room and we’re left as journalist wanting to eschew our journalistic duties and set-up camp for the rest of the day. As to what factors in achieving this award — it’s everything.

Everything from the system’s sound, to its synergy, to music choices, to exhibiting creativity, to an individual product blowing us away, to the overall experience and atmosphere of a room engaging the audience (both in system and the hosts), on down to having great literature on what’s new, and complete system breakdown sheets with pricing information available for take home. A great room entertains, engages, and informs. Everything matters.

The System

McGary Audio

– SA1 Stereo Tube Amplifier (KT77) – $3,985

Salk Signature Sound

– Song 3 BeAT Floorstanding Loudspeakers (standard finish) – $4,495 pr USD

– Song 3 Encore Floorstanding Loudspeakers (standard finish) – $5,695 pr USD

– StreamPlayer Gen III SE (with Roon and Tidal) – $2,495 USD


– Comet DAC Plus (w/ Digital Volume Control) – $3,500 USD


– Level 3.1 Speaker Wires (8ft) – $280 pr USD

– Level 6.2 RCA Interconnects (.75m) – $495 pr USD

– Level 3.1 USB (.72m) – $190 ea USD

– Level 3 Power Cord (5ft) – $330 ea USD

1 Comment

  1. I’m so impressed with the McGary tube amp. Mine is driving a pair of Paradigm 85f loudspeakers. Build quality is among the best I have seen even at price levels way above $4k. And the sound quality is amazing! Forget the 30 watt/channel rating. It just sounds like way more.

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