There were so many exhibitors at this year’s RMAF that it was not possible to go back to rooms. One of two wonderful rooms in the Marriott Tower that I most regretted not having time to revisit, Apex Audio’s mezzanine set-up of equipment mainly distributed by Musical Surroundings produced warm, gorgeous sounds and a “midrange to die for” on Reference Recordings’ LP version of Doug MacLeod’s There’s a Time (Stereophile’s May 2013 Recording of the Month). Managing to let the brightness of the latest CD transfer of Mercury Living Presence’s stereo version of Schoenberg’s Five Pieces for Orchestra come through while remaining a joy to listen to, the system inspired me to scribble, after listening to a track from an LP of guitar duo Rodrigo y Gabriela, “one could listen for hours without fatigue.”
Doing the honors, through new and eminently review-worthy Focal Scala V2 Utopia loudspeakers ($32,500/pair), were Aesthetix’s Romulus DAC/CD player ($7000), Callisto Eclipse w/remote line stage ($19,500), Io Eclipse phono stage ($15,500), and Atlas monoblock amplifiers ($15,000/pair). Playing LP, we had Clearaudio’s Master Innovation turntable ($25,000) on Everest Stand ($12,000) with new Accu Drive battery power supply ($2500), Statement clamp ($1000), Outer Limit peripheral ring ($1350) and, finally Goldfinger Statement phono cartridge ($15,000). Add in a Graham Engineering Phantom II Supreme 10” tonearm ($7000), and you’ve just dropped, along with the needle, $63,850 on the turntable end of things.
It’s essential not to overlook three other main contributors to the sound: the new Critical Mass Soto Voce audio rack ($7000), a complete array of Nordost Valhalla 2 audio cables ($112,500), and a complete Nordost QRT power treatment system ($10,900). Expensive? Yes. Heavenly sounding? Absolutely!