JBL at the Summit
On ground level in the Design Interaction room, a pair of JBL DD-66000 Everest loudspeakers ($60,000/pair) were especially imposing in the bass department. Driven by the Mark Levinson No.326 preamp ($10,000), Levinson No.512 SACD player ($15,000), a discontinued Levinson No.433 ($11,000) on the bass, a Pass Labs XVR01 for the crossover, and a Pass Labs XA30.5 30Wpc class-A amplifier on the horns, all connected by MIT cabling, the system had great authority. The presentation had the characteristically dark Levinson sound, with some curious extra bass resonance on the voice of mezzo Lorraine Hunt Lieberson. Branford Marsalis's music, on the other hand, sounded just fabulous.
"We're trying to figure out what to do with the room," Design Interaction's Deniz Daldal told me. "The speakers need to be farther out, but then there's not room to dem our second system." All this served as a reminder that a show report can be no more than a modest indicator of how good equipment can sound when optimally set up.
More on the second system when it's fired up and running.