Coup de Foudre: Wilson Audio
The Montreal audio-video store Coup de Foudre has a reputation for assembling ambitious music systems in the Hilton's Longueuil salon during SSI. Although this year was no exception, the cost of that system had been scaled-back somewhat for 2012with interesting results.
The loudspeaker of choice was the Wilson Audio Specialties Sophia Series 3 ($18,550 per pair in Macadamia finishwhich bore a striking resemblance to the metallic brown paint on my long-gone 1985 Alfa-Romeo GTV6). Wilson Audio's Peter McGrath, also the recordist behind most of the music selections I enjoyed in that room, said there have been no running changes in the Sophia since the introduction of the Series 3.
The Wilsons were driven by a pair of VTL MB185 Series III mono amplifiers ($15,000 per pair), used in tandem with the VTL 5.5 Series II preamplifier ($9500 with on-board phono preamp, as demonstratedor $7000 without). Digital sources were a Luxman cd38 CD player ($4000) and a Berkeley Alpha DAC ($5095) fed by a MacBook Air running Pure Music software. AC cords were 6' lengths of Elrod Power Systems' Statement Gold ($5500), and the system cabling comprised Transparent Audio's Reference Speaker and Reference Interconnect cables ($26,000 total for this installation).
Among the recordings played was one that Peter had made of an ensemble fronted by the viola da gamba virtuoso Jordi Savall, with harpist Andrew Lawrence King and a brace of percussionists. The sound was astonishing: colorful, dramatic, and huge.