An experience in the impressive room assembled by highend-electronics of Apple Valley, CA emphasized the importance of carefully choosing your demonstration discs. As I settled into my seat, a very assertive visitor asked if he could audition two CDs that he brings along to check out deficiencies in equipment. Once obliged, he began to assault us with two tracks of raucous, ear-burning music. I watched the folks next to me wiggle with discomfort as I put my fingers to my ears on the second track.
"Thank you," said the visitor, mercifully cutting each track short. "That's all I need to hear."
Resisting the temptation to second the thought, I silently said a prayer for the ears of folks in the other rooms he intended to visit, and set about discovering if the system really was bright and raucous. It wasn't. Not in the least. Playing the start of one of my R2D4s, Ivan Fischer's Channel Classics recording of Mahler's Symphony No.2, I was relieved to discover an excellent-sounding system that captured the thrill of intense percussion and blaring horns without irritation.
In play were amplifiers I was eager to again hear, the KR Audio Kronzilla DX 100W tube monoblocks ($32,000, presumably for a pair); Valvet Soulshine preamp with separate tube power supply ($5600); Audio Synthesis DAX Discrete DAC ($6000); and specially-tuned by highend-electronics, a Sony SCD9000ES player ($3000); and loudspeakers I'd love try in my home from Consensus Audio Conspiracy ($41,700).
It helped that the system was optimally set-up with Shakti Hallographs ($1195/pair, and employed in a number of the best-sounding rooms at the Show, as well as at Casa Bellecci-Serinus), and the Synergistic Research Acoustic Art System ($2995, and also in use in my reference system).
Cabling, which IMHO is equally important, was mostly from Silencable. The most expensive additions were the Audio Magic Sorcerer Liquid Air interconnect ($1000), Consensus CMFC speaker cables ($4000 for 8 feet, and twice the price of the Silencable Wizzark Speaker Link), and Synergistic Galileo Universal Speaker Cell ($2500). Power conditioning: Synergistic Research PowerCell 10SE ($5000) and Audio Magic Ground Disrupter ($600). Vibration control: Alto-Extremo on all devices ($149$799), and Consensus CRT spikes on speakers ($2000).
Regrets: That I couldn't stay longer.