"What's new?" we asked Halcro's Philip O'Hanlon. He ushered us into a room with the brand new ("North American premiere") dm88 250W monoblocks ($40,000/pair). Also in the room were Hanlon's own pair of Classic Audio Reproductions T-3s ($16,500/pair and up, depending on finish)—updated reproductions of James B. Lansing's Hartsfields.
Ummumumu ummumumu. The sound Hanlon wrested from those speakers was dynamic, immediate, and physical. Sure, you're thinking, We mean the system played loud and had an almost physical impact—and it did. But Hanlon suckered us with the dynamic extremes first, then he said, "You've heard the power, now experience the glory," and cued the new Ladysmith Black Mambazo disc from Heads Up. Ahhhhh, we sank into the harmonies of those rich male voices, punctuated with the clicks and glottal clucks of their native African tongue. It was tonally true and convincingly present.
It was also a tribute to O'Hanlon's demonstration skills and set-up savvy. It ain't just the little guys who know what they're doing.