Fyne Audio, Chord Electronics, VPI, Sonore, Transparent Cable, and a Whole Lotta Love | Now Listen Here 2020

The Philadelphia Story

We’re on the road to Philly for the Now Listen Here event, racking up the highway miles, and taking in Nan’s hand selected road trip playlist. We are discussing the meaning of the playlist, I think to decode a secret message that Nan is trying to send via music. We also discuss how to divvy up our room assignments. The thing is this, the NLH “micro-show” is essentially just a two room event if you were to only register yourself to the active displays. There is a third room with various NLH wares open as a static display for closer inspections and for those abiding to the safe social distancing mandated by NLH show organizers Shayne Tenace, and Aaron and Jessica Sherrick.

Reporting by Eric Franklin Shook

Going in to this event, I was aware of the differences of each exhibit’s system. Previously at Capital Audio Fest 2019 I had gotten my fill of both Joseph Audio (at the time with Doshi Electronics) with Jeff Joseph and Fyne Audio under the care of Shayne Tenace and his two companies Tenacious Sound, and partner store Now Listen Here.

Upon arriving at the show late Friday night we found ourselves getting a short preview of what the next day had in store for us in sonic terms. It became clear to me that Nan had a preference for the slightly more sophisticated, connected, and impassioned sound of the Joseph Audio speakers. Thus it was decided that she take to covering the Joseph Audio exhibit room, and that I take to covering the Fyne Audio active display. To be fair, I gave up the room I wanted because I’d rather Nan have the kind of experience that felt most real to her.

The star(s) of my self-assigned room were indeed the Fyne Audio F704 ($14,995 USD) speakers, which are massive towers, each housing a 12-inch IsoFlare point-source-driver and an additional 12-inch multi-fibre bass driver, loaded into a twin cavity tuned cabinet with a proprietary BassTrax LF diffuser integrated into a down firing port. The cabinets finished in a luxury high gloss piano lacquer applied to walnut veneers. The F704s were nothing short of stunning even when standing quiet. Finishes are also available in high gloss white, and high gloss black.

Tenacious Sound
Now Listen Here 2020 coverage brought to you by Tenacious Sound.

While each of us did participate in the listening and demonstration of each other’s assigned rooms, there was a chance for each of us to experience the way two different styles of systems could present two equally engaging musical experiences. The Joseph being an ultimately more mature sound, the Fyne Audio felt more attuned to rocking out with big dynamics and the full expression of large scale excitement. Bring on the Zeppelin!

Powered by reference level Chord Electronics in the Ultima Pre 2 ($15,900 USD) and Ultima 5 ($11,900 USD) amplifier, and source-fed from either a Chord DAVE DAC ($10,900 USD) or VPI Industries‘ still-new Vanquish Magnetic Direct Drive Turntable (estimated $100K-to-$120K) which is a limited edition “no-holds-barred”—“cost-no-object” design that borrows it’s direct drive technology from the heralded HW40 Direct Drive Turntable. Debuting at the NLH exhibit, a VPI made tonearm “POD” as Mat Weisfeld called it, which could be a game changer in as much as it is adept at being a tonearm-changer. The POD features a solid aluminum body, with integral cable management, adjustable VTA, and the versatility to be quickly outfitted with the tonearm of your choice in a matter of seconds. Think camera body and camera lens. It’s that fast.

Tying the whole system together, Transparent Cables and Transparent’s PowerWave ($1,895 USD) conditioner. Along with Sonore’s opticalRendu streamer which retails for a starting price of just $1,295, but with extra bells and whistles $2,302 as shown.

Ultimately what we were treated to with the Fyne Audio speakers was something familiar and yet unfamiliar. Shayne Tenace of Tenacious Sound/Now Listen Here, acting as ringmaster for this half of the event, chose to use an interesting playlist. The choice was none other than our own Part-Time Audiophile(War Room) playlist, which can be found on Qobuz, linked HERE.

As we scroll through songs that I know all too well, I’m treated to unfamiliar amounts of scale and dynamics throughout the range of energetic tracks selected by Shayne. The large F704s are in command with ample Chord power at the the ready. These hulking loudspeakers capture the attention of all in the room, and have no plans of letting it go. The experience is leading us along. Shayne is inspired to make playlist selections that take advantage of the Fyne Audio F704’s massive strengths (dimension and efficiency) when it comes to program material.

Give me more drums! Give me more volume! Can we fill the space with sound? Absolutely! Can we do it without fatigue or distortion? Definitely!

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