I was surprised to see a new production Sota Saphire turntable ($3,600) as the main source in this room, not having seen a Sota turntable at a show in many years. Mounted on it was an Origin Live Enterprise tonearm ($6,020) and a Dynavector DRT XV-1S MC phono cartridge ($5,650). At ten times the price of the Sota turntable, the formidable T+A SDV3100HV preamp/DAC served line stage duties for signals delivered from the Channel D Lino C 2.0 phono stage ($2,499). T+A’s sales manager, David Schultz, explained to me that the T+A preamp uses high voltage power supply rails that produce a more tube-like sound from the transistors in the gain circuitry. T+A also supplied the A3000HV amplifier ($19,900) and the S2100CTL loudspeakers ($10,900).
The Channel D Lino phono stage is also distinctive in being a current-mode MC preamplifier that amplifies the current rather than the voltage from the cartridge. With current mode, gain and cartridge loading are automatic. In addition, it provides better electromechanical damping of the cartridge, thus reducing distortion (the web site shows this graphically). The designer, Rob Robinson, further explained that the Lino uses a battery power supply for maximally stable, low noise operation. Cabling was by MIT and the room acoustics were augmented by two Stein H1 harmonizers and Blue Sun devices.
While we watched the mesmerizing, bouncing needles in the beautiful T+A amp’s VU meters, Rob played for us several selections from his eclectic vinyl collection: Juliette Greco (French actress/singer), Maria Callas (“Puccini Heroines” on Angel Records), and “The Pink Panther”, by Henry Mancini (on RCA). The Maria Callas LP, despite some microphone overloading on the recording, was thrilling! The system beautifully captured the soul-penetrating power of her voice and proved to be one of the highlights of the show for me.
— Steve Marsh