San Diego’s Blackbird Audio/Gallery and Colleen Cardas Imports put together a system comprising Opera’s three-way Grand Mezza loudspeakers ($2795/pair); Unison Research’s 12Wpc Simply Italy integrated amplifier ($2450), Unico CDE CD player ($4120, with upgraded dual-mono DAC), and Giro turntable ($3995) fitted with a Transfiguration Phoenix phono cartridge ($4250); and the new Pure Audio (“More Music, Less Technology”) Vinyl phono preamp ($4500), an interesting dual-mono design with an aluminum and stainless-mesh chassis and user-selectable loading from 47 to 47k ohms. Cables were supplied by Cardas, and the very good-looking Trellis equipment racks were from a company called Splintr Designs.
This system struck me as offering a relaxed, well-controlled sound, with a fine sense of momentum and flow. I happily sat back and nodded my head to the music.
And do you know that creepy, moody Dead Can Dance trackthe one with the shaker that comes flying from the left-channel speaker with crazy presence and realism? It’s called “Yulunga,” right?
Well, through the Colleen Cardas system, "Yulunga" wasn’t quite as large or enveloping as I’ve heard it elsewhere, but the vocals sounded lovely, and that crazy, creepy shaker was way more alive than ever before. Whoa!