Katli Audio, Conrad-Johnson, Usher, TriangleArt | T.H.E. Show 2019

Katli Audio is yet another Southern California dealer that’s new to me. Based in Chino Hills, Katli hosted a demonstration using Conrad-Johnson amplification, the impressively massive TriangleArt Master Reference turntable ($39,950) with 12″ Osiris Makassar Ebony tonearm ($6990), cabling by Cardas Audio and two pairs of Usher Audio speakers–the large TD-10 ($21,950/pair) and the small SD-500 monitors ($1995/pair). Both pairs of speakers have Diamond DMD tweeters and were placed side-by-side, and for a minute I thought I was going to experience one of those “it’s actually the small ones that are playing” moments which probably would have made major news at the show.

Upon closer inspection of the Katli Audio system–which meant putting my ear close to the speakers–I was relieved (if that is the right word) that it was larger speakers playing. The sound was just way too big and the bass was way too deep for a pair of two-way monitors, but in this day and age you never know. The TD-10s feature the aforementioned DMD tweeter, but they also used a 4″ Diamond DMD midrange driver and an 11″ Eton woofer and have a frequency response of 24Hz to 40 kHz, which sounds about right. The overall system had a beautiful, relaxed sound that was soothing yet detailed.

I was pleased to see Conrad-Johnson in the mix–I feel like I haven’t heard any of their products for many years. Katli Audio brought the TEA 1 S-3 MC tube phono stage ($17,950), the ET-7 S-2 hybrid line preamplifier ($11,950) and the ART-150 stereo power amp ($18,995), and it was like seeing old friends after a long absence. (There was once a time in my former life as a reviewer that I had a tremendous amount of seat time with CJ products.) Digital was supplied by a beefy Accuphase DP-750 SACD player ($26,900) and a Cocktail Audio X45 media streamer ($3195) that was just reviewed by Part-Time Audiophile. The racks and the acrylic amp stand were actually made by Katli Audio.

I was happy to see my old pal Tom Vu of TriangleArt–we used to exhibit across the hall from each other at CES for a number of years, and we’d always come out into the corridor and chat about the show. He’s based in Anaheim–again, my hometown–and it was a pleasant surprise to see one of his big analog rigs in action and making beautiful music, as usual. Katli Audio is another intriguing addition to the Southern California high-end audio scene, and I wish them well!