The Scaena Sensation
Scaena's imposing systems never fail to provide one of the highlights of the Show experience. Once the flashing light show on the VAC tube equipment was turned off, I was able to settle in and enjoy sensational sound through the Scaena Spiritus 3.6 System with Trifecta subwoofers ($130,000), VAC Statement 450 monoblock amplifiers ($78,000, presumably for the pair), VAC Signature MK2a preamp with phono option ($19,500), Audience Adept aR-12-TSS power conditioner ($10,000) and, for analog, the Kronos counter-rotating dual platter turntable ($28,000) with Graham Phantom Supreme 12" arm ($6000), Clearaudio Goldfinger Statement cartridge ($15,000), and Audio Research Ref phono 2 ($11,995).
IMHO, choice of cables is as important as anything else in the system, because their composition, geometry, shielding, and termination determine how much of an equipment designer's intention actually reaches your ears. In this case, cabling was a full complement of MIT Oracle MA-X2, Oracle MA-X, and Oracle Matrix cabling, plus Oracle Z-III AC cords (10 total). Prices range from a high of $42,000 for the Oracle MA-X2 Super HD speaker interfaces to $1440 for a power cable.
Essential as well were the extraordinary Magico Q-Pod equipment supports that Michael Fremer recently raved about in Stereophile ($1310 for a set of 3). When I first installed these under my transport and DAC/preamp, I was astounded at how much deeper my system extended, and how much firmer the bottom octave became.
I've never associated VAC gear with brightness, but here, the system's sound was notably brighter than with Conrad-Johnson gear at AXPONA 2012. Beyond the sense that the sound was tipped up, I found the wonderful elevated soundstage, air, and massive scale of the presentation immensely satisfying on my trusty SACD of Mahler's Symphony 2, conducted by Ivan Fischer.