Blue Light Special
I never fail to check out Jonathan Tinn's Blue Light Audio systems. He's a past master of system set-up, so his rooms always sound special. This year's was no exception.
In the middle of the room was the definitely non-UL-approved test-bench prototype of darTZeel's soon-to-come 1000W NHB-458 monoblock amps (price tbd) that have so alarmed some readers. The actual working components centered around DarTZeel's new 350Wpc CTH-8550 integrated amplifier ($20,300)but you also get an MC phono stage for that price.
The source was Playback Designs' MPS-5 Reference SACD/CD player ($15,000), which has 24-bit/192kHz input, and MPD-5 Reference DAC ($11,000), ditto. The speakers were Evolution Acoustics MMMini Two ($40,000/pair), a modular design that mates a two-way head to an integrated subwoofer. Evolution also supplied DRSC speaker cables ($5000/pair)and PC2One power conditioning power cords ($2000). darTZeel supplied the interconnects, the cutely named darT to Zeel 50 ohm impedance-matched BNC interconnects (price tbd).
In other words, it was a carefully thought-out system and I have no way of knowing what made it sound so goodeveryting about it, probablybut it really did sound special. There was sufficient bass, but not so much that I thought great bass, it was simply there when it was called for. The soundstage was far wider than I would have thought a small room could have supported and everything sounded completely fleshed out and three-dimensional. It was jaw-droppingly real.
Of course, some of that could have been because Tinn was playing high-rez music files from The Mastering Labs, Mo-Fi, Reference Recordings, and The Super Audio Center. If there's one trend that really comes of age in 2009, it's ready access to greater-than-Red Book digital, That stuff is tasty!