Sonus Faber Extrema loudspeaker The Listening Station
The main amplification consisted of a Krell KSA-150 or a pair of Meridian 605 monoblocks. A second pair of 605s allowed for passive bi-amping (footnote 1), which gave significant gains in definition, focus, and clarity. Supplemental listening included a Motif 200, while early indications were that tubed amplifiers under 150W/8 ohms rated would not deliver sufficient raw power for a good dynamic range with the Extremas.
Preamplification majored with the fine Audio Research LS2 line stage plus phono stage, supplemented by a phono-stage-fitted Krell KSL and a hardwired Penny & Giles potentiometer for passive control. LP source comprised the Linn LP12/Lingo/Naim ARO tonearm/Koetsu Rosewood 2, the system mounted on a Mana Acoustics two-tier sound table. CD sources comprised an Accuphase DP70-V and a Theta Data/DS Pro Basic combination, with support from a Meridian 602/606 and a Micromega Duo Bitstream decoder. Cables were by Siltech, with some custom silver sections.
I listened to a wide range of discs, including Stereophile's Test CD 1 and Poem, many classical recordings, plus a good selection of modern pop and rock: Laurie Anderson's Strange Angels and Michael Jackson's Bad ("The Monster Remix"). Classics such as John Lee Hooker's The Healer, John Armatrading's The Shouting Stage, and Joni Mitchell's Blue provided strong support.—Martin Colloms
Footnote 1: Passive bi-amping consists of using two full-range amplifiers in parallel to drive the drive-units. The speaker's internal crossover therefore still provides the appropriate frequency shaping for each unit.—John Atkinson