Didn’t I just spend a weekend with this system when I flew to Baltimore a few weeks ago and visited Dr. Vinyl? When I first walked into this room, I felt like Dr. Vinyl just packed up his showroom and placed it down, intact, at AXPONA 2023. There were two major differences however–the mighty Nola Baby Grand Reference Gold 3 speakers were replaced with the Usher ML 802 speakers ($15,000/pr USD), and this was my first time listening to the two new products from McGary Audio–the Ma1 monoblocks ($20,950/pr) and the SP1 stereo preamplifier ($12,000).
Words and Photos by Marc Phillips
Yes, the Usher ML 802 were one-tenth the cost of those Nolas, but they still performed admirably despite following a very tough act. The new McGary duo, however, possessed that same beautiful tubey-ness I’ve come to expect from the mind of Mike McGary. In a system filled with brands such as J. Sikora, Tru-Glider, DS Audio, CEC, Ideon Audio, CAD and ArgentPur, the McGary amps added a healthy dollop of lushness to a very detailed yet musical system.
I can still remember spotting the Usher ML802s at Dr. Vinyl’s house in Maryland and asking him what they were. I was semi-surprised to learn it was a model from Usher Audio, but not too surprised–we recently gave a stellar review of the smaller Usher SD-500. Dr. Vinyl is very picky about the lines he carries, however, and he asked me to stop by his room at AXPONA so I could hear how special these speakers were. That, of course, lead to more listening with the Doc, even after hours, although I was interrupted by some wackiness from the audio troops and had to leave abruptly. I felt bad, because this system was seriously conjuring up the magic.
I don’t know when I’ll see Dr. Vinyl next–I wish he didn’t live across the country from me. If he lived closer, I’d be the Guest That Wouldn’t Leave, digging into brands like Usher and J. Sikora and McGary and taking turns playing DJ like we did in March. Good times, indeed.
If you would like to hear even more coverage from AXPONA 2023, check out our recap report and highlights from our audiophile-oriented show The Occasional Podcast. You can stream the episode direct from the embed below, or from your favorite podcast platform including iTunes, Android, Google, Deezer, Spotify, iHeartRadio and more.
Also don’t forget to check out our collaboration to commemorate the event with our solid bronze record weight available only for a limited run. This 800 grams of solid bronze features the PTA roundel on the top with also acts as a 45 adapter. You can purchase direct from the PTA Approved Store here on the site.
1 Trackback / Pingback