"Concrete is toxic to the sound of speakers!" explained Mapleshade's Pierre Sprey, when I asked about the maple platforms and brass footers on which everything was standing in his room at Capital AudioFest. Pierre makes superbly natural-sounding recordings, but also lives in a world where everything matters when it comes to optimizing sound quality. The system comprised Sonist Concerto 4 speakers ($5895/pair), these a 97dB-sensitive design with a solid poplar front baffle, driven by a heavily modified vintage tubed Scott integrated amplifier. (Pierre has been buying up used examples of this amp since 1989 and offers the modded amps for salesee his website
.) Source was a modded Cyrus CD-8SE CD player (the bottom panel was now maple) and preamp was a Kora Triode.
Whether it was Pierre's fanatic attention to detail that no-one else considers important, or maybe he is just an expert at setting up systems. But the Sonist speakers sounded very much better than the Concerto 4s and smaller versions that I heard at the Atlanta and Jacksonville Axpona Shows: clean, transparent, and uncolored.