Dr. Vinyl of Baltimore, Maryland was putting on a clinic at Capital Audio 2021. Displaying an active collection of components that he knows intimately, from brands like McGary Audio, Qln, Backert Labs, Reed, CEC, Kleinbeck, Puritan Audio Labs, and MosArt.
This was my first chance to hear the new Qln Prestige One monitors that Marc Phillips recently reviewed (linked here) in a show system, which probably means that this was their North American debut. The Qln Prestige One most closely represents what I’ve heard in the larger floorstanding Prestige Three (review linked here) that shares its two-way design.
Marc Phillips had this to say about the Prestige One: “This Qln Prestige One is a study in paying close attention to every small detail, particularly in the crossover design…” which follows with how much time and attention went into parts selection, manufacturing and designing of the entire package.
As for the driving force behind the sound in Dr. Vinyl’s exhibit room, the McGary Audio SA-1E stereo tube amplifier, as reviewed (linked here) by our own Dave McNair.
Dave had this to say about the McGary Audio SA-1E: “…if the SA-1E sounded as stellar as it did with its 30 something watts pounding their little hearts out on the Acora SRC-2s, it begs to be considered by a larger group of audiophiles. The kind of folks that love hearing every dynamic and textural nuance of their favorite recordings. A massively vivid portrayal of anything you feel like playing. And it effin’ rocks, so there’s that.”
At the top of the system, a gorgeous Reed Muse 3C turntable outfitted with the popular Reed 3P 10.5″ tonearm. The 3P is a special tonearm for it’s sound and playback adjustments that can be performed on the fly, like VTA, and most uniquely azimuth. If you’ve been around the hi-fi world you’ve probably come across a Reed tonearm or two. The Muse 3C in my experience has been a more rare sighting, but one I’m glad I’ve had the chance to lay eyes and ears to.
The Muse 3C is a friction driver turntable — think smooth gears — being powered by two direct current motors through its friction-drive system, however there is the option to convert it to a belt-driven system in minutes by replacing the traction rollers and putting on a belt underneath the platter. It’s not a bad option to have for those skeptical and looking to compare which way they’d rather drink this type of wine.
Good grief this is tough. It’s everything I love in the Prestige Three but in a smaller package monitor. It’s everything I love about McGary tubes in how they really don’t seem like they are shy on power or tube appeal. The records we heard were familiar and from that convincing that Dr. Vinyl knew how to tame a wiry hotel room and churn out something beautiful sounding instead.
Upon a return visit to the room I got the chance to hear a Tru-Glider Pendulum Arm with DS Audio’s 003 Cartridge, 003 Energizer, and Ion 1 Ionizer. The system just sparkled and had all the right flavour and colors you look for in hi-fi without any of the shade or masking associated with colored sound. Clean details intact from well design gear, and smart selection of components will give that result almost every time.
McGary Audio SA-1E Amplifier – $6,600
Backert Labs Rhythm 1.3 Preamplifier – $10,500
Backert Labs Rhumba Phono 1.1 – $7,500
Reed Muse 3C Turntable – $21,750
Reed 3P Tonearm (10.5″) – $7,750
Integrity Canada Tru Glider Pendulum Tonearm – $5,600
DS Audio 003 Cartridge – $2,500
DS Audio 003 Energizer – $3,500
DS Audio Ion 1 Ionizer – $1,800
Qln Prestige One Monitors – $7,100
Kleinbeck cables throughout
MosArt rack components throughout
More system components still …
For more system information and availability, visit: www.drvinyl.net
For more Capital Audio Fest 2021 coverage—CLICK HERE!