Don't get me wrong, I heard some very good two-channel sound at CEDIA—Thiel and Wisdom Audio leap to mind—but arriving at the Edge Electronics/PBN Montana room at T.H.E. Show was a breath of fresh air. Why? The Denver Convention Center is a noisy place and even the "rooms" are merely shells set up within that vast space. The Denver Athletic Club is both solidly built and quiet.
Edge's Steven Norber was demoing his $5600 GCD CD player, a prototype preamp (price and name TBD), and G8 statement monoblocks ($9500/pair). PBN's Peter Noerbaek brought along his Montana XPS floorstanding loudspeakers ($17,500/pair) and they were big.
Norber had spotted us dining in the DAC lounge and promised he had a special musical treat for us and he did indeed. It was a recording of didgeridoos, silver Tibetan bowls, and some form of synthesizer, and it created not merely a new sonic landscape, but an entire sonic world. The bass was extremely extended and the soundstage was three-dimensional and immersive.
One listener said, "I've never heard anything quite like that," which, of course, is what you say when you don't quite know how to react. It was more complementary than "Is it supposed to sound like that?" (I heard JA ask that once—and the manufacturer enthusiastically said "Yes!") I loved the recording and the system's performance myself.
Nils Lofgren's Acoustic Live was also stunning-sounding—and surprisingly intimate, given the size of the XPSes. The system was obviously well sorted out.