Just Sayin' Is All
Interestingly, every room I visited that was set up by audio dealers Coup de Foudre and Son or Filtronique sounded superb. Part of it was that those dealer have pretty fancy lines—Wilson, VTL, Transparent, et al for Coup and Ayre, Audio Research, Wadia, Nagra, and Shunyata for Son—but it wasn't just that.
I think the dealers had a leg up on rooms put together by manufacturer alliances because they work with this stuff every day. They know which model speaker sings best with a line's power amp. They know the cables they are using and which one in a given line goes best with which component.
An example of this was Son or Filtronique's "little" Ayre room, which featured, not the show-stopping K-XR, but rather the K-1xe, a V-5xe, and a C-5xe driving a pair of Sonus Faber Cremona Ms. Shunyata cables were employed—and not the priciest ones, either. To top it off, the system was set up in one of the hooty rooms.
And it sounded like butter! It was articulate, it was powerful, and it played my jazz, another listener's flamenco, and rock with equal elan. The ARC Reference 610Ts and K-XR driving the Stradivari next door were impressive—heck, they better be—but this was a system I just wanted to listen to for hours, perhaps years. And it cost around $15,000 complete.
On the Concourse level, Coup de Foudre was demonstrating Wilson WATT/Puppy 8s with VTL and Transparent Cable. I know the Wilsons pretty well and I've been auditioning the VTL TL-6.5 preamp for a Follow-up, but I'd never heard the speakers sound that amazing. Coup's Michael said, "It's the cable." Peter McGrath pointed out that it might have also had something to do with the two Wilson Watchdogs. True, Michael conceded, but it was also the cable.
BTW, the Watchdogs did not so much add bas slam (although that was certainly present) as complete the midrange, especially on songs like "Theme for the Eulipions" by Rahsaan Roland Kirk, which has ambient noises from train stations and airports in it introduction and fade-out. With the Wilson subs crossed over at 28Hz, those terminals sounded vast. With the subs shut off, that immense sound field collapsed into a room-sized one.
I'm not saying that every dealer is amazing, but these two Montreal dealers certainly are impressive.