Beauty of Sound

All the way from East Greenbush, New York, Bill Demars of Beauty of Sound was showing the brand new Ikeda 9TT moving-coil cartridge ($3800) on The Emperor Turntable, whose total price ($17,400) includes both the cartridge and Ikeda IT-407CR1 tonearm ($6500). The cartridge's body parts are made of an aluminum alloy, and the cantilever is made of a double-layered hard aluminum alloy in order to reduce possible distortion from warped platters. Appropriate stylus downforce is 1.75gram–2.25gram, and frequency range is 10Hz–45kHz.

My experience in this room reflects the all-too-frequently encountered reality of dealers arriving at shows with new equipment that has virtually no hours on it. Initially, heard through the low-level mood lighting that I was not able to capture in sharpest focus, the Bastanis Mandala open-baffle loudspeaker (finished, $9100/pair) sounded quite good. Aided by Audience Adept Response aR6-TS ($5000) with Au24 powerChord upgrade ($1550), Bastanis Epilog Mk.II speaker cables ($4100/3 meter pair), Bastanis Heartbeat interconnects: $650/1-meter pair), TubeGuru 300B/50 monoblock amplifiers ($6200/pair), TubeGuru Linestage/Phono ($3200), and TubeGuru Moving-Coil Step-Up Transformer ($1400), my initial impression the sound on an LP of a track from Patricia Barber's Café Blue was beautifully warm in the midrange and bright on top. The experience was repeated on a track from de Falla's Three Cornered Hat.

Happily, I needed to return to the room on Sunday to reshoot my photo. This time, the sharp edge was virtually gone. Puzzled, I asked Bill what had changed. It was then I learned that the cartridge has very few hours on it when he arrived in Jacksonville, and the Audience power conditioner even less. With two more days of action on them, and a change in the position of the speaker's baffle, the sound quite inviting, with a far more natural presentation of highs enhanced by the still beautiful midrange and a newfound sense of three-dimensionality. I look forward to hearing this cartridge and speaker again.

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