High Water Sound: The All-Important Tear Factor
Although this photograph doesn’t express much of the equipment in Jeffrey Catalano’s High Water Sound suite, it does give some sense of the room’s vibe: warm, relaxed, soothing, effortless, lit with gold.
I smiled when I saw the great stacks of vinyl propped up against the room’s side wallfar more vinyl than can possibly be played during a 3-day event, one might think; but, if anyone could get through all of those sides, it would be Jeffrey Catalano.
I’ll happily confess now that I failed to do my job while in this room. I saw Catalano sitting there in the front row, looking forward, contemplating the music, and I thought about going up to him, asking him for details on the systemWhat are we listening to? What’s new?but there was something so right about the scene, about the sound, about the moment, that I just couldn’t bring myself to cause a disruption. I’m sorry.
The system, Catalano later shared with me via e-mail: TW-Acustic Black Knight turntable ($40,000), two TW-Acustic 10.5 tonearms ($5500 each), Ortofon Winfeld cartridge ($3800), Dynavector XV1-S mono cartridge ($5950), Tron Electric Seven Ultimate Stereo ($12,500) and Tron Electric Seven Mono ($12,000) phono preamplifiers, 22Wpc Horning Hybrid Sati 1605 SE integrated amplifier ($24,000), and Horning Hybrid Eufrodite Ultimate Zigma Plus loudspeakers ($22,000/pair). Equipment support was provided by Silent Running Audio’s Scuttle Rack ($7700) and various Ohio XL bases ($1500$2000). Cables were from Audience, WSS, and Stealth.
A very expensive systemno doubt about thatbut it created the prettiest and most compelling sound I heard at Axpona. I felt as though I were in a concert hall, gripped by the music, by the space around me, by the physical motions of musicians striking, plucking, and bowing their gorgeous instruments. There was a certain sacredness to the scene, a sense that what was taking place should not and could not be disturbed.
“Hope you dug the Oistrakh/Bruch,” Catalano wrote. “It’s a fairly rare mono pressing with just the right amount of passion, technique, sound, and the all important tear factor.”