The Lotus Group's Granada
The imposing Lotus Group Granada UB II loudspeaker ($125,000/pair), complete with an active crossover and Feastrex Type II field-coil driver, was sounding the best I've ever heard it. The system as a whole was a bit dark for my taste, but a track from Esperanza Spalding's new disc, Chamber Music Society, was just beautiful. Everyone in the room loved it.
Joe Cohen handed me a list of system components that would take a day and a half to reproduce. Suffice it to say that the $414,822 system (!) included two pairs of Technical Brain 200W monoblocks ($60,000/pair), the exciting new Steve McCormack SMc VRE-1 preamplifier ($14,900), a dCS Puccini/uClock combo ($25,000, the actual samples reviewed by JA last November, which had been updated with the new v1.2 firmware), lots of PranaWire, and goodies from Hanns Acoustics, Olive, Acoustic Revive, Sound Mechanics, Yeil M&C, and Audio Replas.
A strange thing happened on my prized new recording of Osvaldo Golijov's La Pasión Según San Marcos, however. As much as everyone in the room loved soprano Jessica Rivera's singingI was asked three times for the name of the composerRivera's voice became inexplicably grainy each time it rose above a certain note in her midrange. And as ideal as was the system's rendering of the concert-hall perspective of soprano Elly Ameling singing Schubert to Dalton Baldwin's piano accompaniment, and as fine as the piano sounded, there were some strange resonances and an unusual sharpness to her voice as she ascended the scale.
Believe it or not, the Ameling was not supplied by me, but rather by a friend of Hi-Fi News's US correspondent Barry Willis. Will this be the only time I discover another lover of German lieder, and specifically of the great Ameling (who earned one of my R2D4s a few years back), at an audio show? I hope not.
PS. Don't you love the size of those cables that can be seen snaking around the amplifiers? At least one member of BAAS (the Bay Area Audiophile Society) commented that they are the thickest cables he's ever seen.