Getting Higher with High Water Sound
From an email’s distance, Jeff Catalano and his dealership High Water Sound seemed an enigmatic business, selling esoteric hi-fi from a downtown NYC loft. So, I was a little intimidated to visit his room. To my surprise, Catalano is as non-elusive as you can get, beaming with joy about hi-fi and music and even wearing a Triumph shirt(!), the true sign of an everyman. Catalano is committed to selling gear that brings the most emotion out the music.
The first record I put on his TW Acustic Raven Black Night turntable ($40,000) was Egberto Gismonti’s Sol a Meio Dia, which instantly caught everyone’s attention with its varied instrumentation and rich dynamics. Through the Cessaro Affascinate I SE loudspeakers ($62,000/pair) pumped with life by Tron amplification that rested silently on SRA stands, Ralph Towner’s guitar came off across with a little too much body, but his and Gismonti’s guitar pinpointed into the corners of the room from left to right and the discordant woodwind bursts were breathy and palpable without edge.
This system’s ability to reproduce low bass while still extending to higher frequencies without strain led me to put on Teddy Pendergrass’s “Love T.K.O.” again hoping to make audiophiles swoon. This system, again with its stable imaging, brought out the thick chorus of background harmonies in the back right, highlighting each individual voice as part of a larger force of sweet sound.
The gorgeous Cessaro Affascinate I SE loudspeaker enclosures and horn are made of birch plywood and finished with a rare Zyricote finish. At 100db sensitivity, these speakers accurately reproduced the Native American woodwinds and horn instruments from Los Jaivas’ Alturas de Machu Picchu and gave this recording an honest re-representation of the new heights Los Jaivas were trying to achieve: a resuscitation of the glory and wonder that was Machu Picchu.