T'ain't Just the Speakers
Larry Greenhill has already blogged about how good the Escalante Fremonts sounded in the Sound By Singer room Escalante shared with VTL. They did a disappearing act that would have done David Blaine proud. I was so impressed, I came back for a second visit and came away even more impressed—not just with the Fremonts, but with the VTL/dCS system that enabled them to sing like they did.
dCS's new Scarlatti stack— Scarlatti STT CD/SACD transport ($32,999), Scarlatti SDC DAC ($23,999), and Scarlatti SCK Master Clock ($10,999)— impressed me not just with what it managed to extract from discs, but with its simplified control interface, which is the one aspect of dCS gear that always frustrated me in the past.
Then there was all the VTL gear: TL6.5 preamp ($9500), TP6.5 phono preamp ($8500),and Siegfried 400 stereo power amplifier ($25,000). That's one, smooth, powerful system—and it drove the Fremonts to lock onto the huge room like nobody's business.
VTL's interface isn't too shabby, either. Thinking he heard a phase anomaly in Mark Knopfler and Emmylou Harris' "This is Us," Jeff Wong asked Luke Manley, photographed here by Larry Greenhill, if he was sure the connection chain was correct. "Yes, I'm sure it is," Luke said, "but we can find out if the disc is phase-correct." He touched a button on the TL6.5's remote and we all relaxed. That was the sound we were looking for.
"I'd like to take credit for all of this," Luke said, "but this is a huge room and we were having trouble getting the level of detail we are accustomed to—but the Nordost Valhalla interconnect and speaker cables helped, and the Shunyata power conditioner helped a lot."