Two of my colleagues had waxed so enthusiastic about the Vienna Acoustics The Music loudspeaker ($27,000/pair), showcased in the huge Sumiko suite on the 34th floor, that I had to take a listen for myself. Sources were the Wadia 781 CD player and Project Xtension turntable ($6000) with Sumiko Palisantos Presentation cartridge ($3500), feeding an Aesthetix Calypso linestage, Aesthetix Io phono preamp, and Aesthetix Atlas amplifier. Also heard was a pair of REL G1 subwoofers ($3995 each), all connected by a mix of Transparent Audio and OCOS cabling.
This was another of those puzzling experiences that underscored the truth that, until you hear a component in your own system, in the company of components and architecture with which you're intimately familiar, you cannot possibly tell for certain what's going on. It also illumined in neon that old adage, "Different strokes for different folks."
The air this system reproduced around instruments and voices was pretty damn fabulous. It also excelled in transmitting detail. I don't think I will ever hear an LP of Lou Reed's "Take a Walk on the Wild Side" sound so good. Reed's voice was simply fabulous. On the other hand, to these ears, the sound of the great soprano Elly Ameling's voice sounded covered and muffled, lacking shine and radiance, and the sound of piano on several recordings raised some question marks. But then again, on other recordings, it sounded marvelous.
Sumiko is headquartered in Berkeley, one city over from our humble casa in the barrio. I look forward to exploring the Vienna Acoustics The Music more when I'm back home on terra infirma. I sure could use another hit of Lou Reed before I die.