Big, Round, and Palpable in the Ciamara Room
Patel grew up in Montreal as the son of an anesthesiologist, but this did not make him numb to new experiences and wonderful sounds. An audiophile dad raised young Sanjay on a steady dosage of Magneplanar speakers, Audio Research gear, and wonderful music. After his dad played him Dark Side of the Moon with all the lights off, the boy was hooked. Sounds like a familiar story, no? As his love of music progressed, Patel started making progressive house music for clubs in Montreal.
Upon entrance to the room, I heard gracious dynamics with body and touch on the softly played piano in “Fantasia”, a Gershwin amalgam arranged by the Mike Garson Jazztet. The track played via Macbook running iTunes and AudioNirvana into the DAC 2X by EMM Labs ($15,500).
When it was time to put on my own music, Patel joked, “You wanna hear some ABBA again?” Yes, I played ABBA last year in his room because I love ABBA. While my intense ABBA phase has passed, their music from Arrival through The Visitors reawakened a passion for synth pop deep inside. Plus with Patel revealing his house music past, I thought playing the last two cuts from SBTRKT’s self-titled LP would be most appropriate. The LP would be played through the Dr. Feickert Firebird turntable ($12,995), Reed 3P 12" tonearm ($5995), and Lyra Kleos cartridge ($2850).
Patel commented that the Viola Concerto power amplifier ($22,500) amplifying the midrange drivers and tweeters provided a bodily resolution to the midrange without being too bright. This is exactly what I heard with my demo of the SBTRKT’s “Sanctuary” and “Trials of the Past”. Synths were rich in tone, if a touch dark, but rounded and full-bodied. There was an elegant sense of swing to the bass synth and the soundstage reached incredibly wide and deep. It was the only time at the show where I truly became frustrated with people walking front of the speakers because the soundstage and textures were just so enthralling. I would have to return to this room.