Best Sound in Show?
Did Koetsu USA's room have the best sound at the show? It's hard to tell. Since my goal was to cover every single room at Axpona without playing slam, bam, thank you ma'am, I intentionally skipped set-ups John intended to cover. Those included some of the big players: YG Acoustics/Krell, Acapella/Einstein, the huge Legacy speakers, Belles/Advanced, and Mark Waldrep's huge, powerful AIX surround set-up with its five Thiel CS3.7s, two Thiel subs, four or more Boulder amps, DH Labs cabling, and Oppo player. Unfortunately, I also skipped the Ayon Audio exhibit, which I thought John was covering because it shared a room with Legacy.
Regardless, after that massive disclaimer, I loved the sound in Hiram Toro's Koetsu USA room. When I entered, a show attendee was playing Brubeck's Classic "Take 5." "Wonderful," I wrote in my notes. Ideal slam, captivating colors the whole bit. I followed with one of my frequently referenced orchestral assaults, the beginning of Mahler's Symphony No. 2 on my R2D4 Channel Classics hybrid SACD conducted by Ivan Fischer. The sound was full, rich, vibrant, and incredibly powerful. Space around instruments was inviting without being gimmicky, and high volume cymbal crashes never hurt the ears. Yes, the sound was euphonic, and perhaps smoothed out a bit on top. But it was so deliciousequally so when I returned briefly on the last daythat I did not want to leave.
Dominating the room were two sets of speakers new to me. I heard the Rosso Fiorentino Volterra ($11,950/pair), a most attractive Italian 2-1/2way low floorstander designed by Francesco Rubenni (pictured). Boasting a range of 38 Hz100kHz with its optional "ultrasonic generator" (a Murata supertweeter), the Rosse speaker offers a 6 ohm nominal impedance and an 87dB sensitivity. The bottom 8" woofer is sealed, and the mid 6.5" woofer is vented. To be unveiled at the end of March at the Munich show is the larger Siena, which will boast a frequency response of 25Hz100kHz. I can't wait until it makes it to the USA.
Making this baby very happy was the Goldenote 75Wpc Demidoff Silver Plus Integrated amp with silver point to point wiring ($14,900, and apologies for any misspellings due to Hiram's handwriting); Goldenote Pamphili phono preamp ($3325), BlackNote CDP 300 CD player with tube ($4150), Montegiro Legno "High-End in Wood" turntable ($13,568), and all-important Koetsu Azule Platinum cartridge ($10,000). Note that this system sounded equally good on LP (Brubeck) and CD (Mahler), which says a lot for the tube CD player, integrated amp, and speakers.