I’ve eagerly awaited the opportunity to hear APL Hi-FI’s NOW-2.5, the no-hold-barred, top-of-the line model in their frighteningly named New World Order series of Universal Players. A redesigned Esoteric UX-1, featuring a 6H30 dual-tube output stage, the $21,000 unit threw an exceptionally three-dimensional soundstage mated with the ESP Concert Grand S1 speakers and Shoreline 300 monoblocks. My sense, however, is that the unit is capable of offering far more than what I was able to hear in the Show setting. With the assistance of Alex Peychev’s new Service Manager, Brent Rainwater, I look forward to eventually auditioning the NOW-2.5 in my reference system.
Update: At the urging of a Silversmith cable dealer, who claimed that this system had been transformed overnight simply by switching to Silversmith cabling, I returned to the room on Sunday for a second listen. There I learned what the dealer had failed to mention: other significant changes included the additions of Nordost Valhalla power cables on the Shoreline monoblocks, the extraordinary Nordost Thor, and the extra dynamics afforded by a Concert Fidelity preamp.
In the presence of the esteemed Sean McCaughan, who designed the ESP Concert Grand S1 back in 1989, I heard significantly more depth to the presentation, and a far blacker black. The system exhibited a newfound ability to capture the demonic nature of Silvestre Revueltas' Sensemaya. I also noticed a far more truthful sense of reverberation and undertones to the drum. I still look forward to hearing Alex's player in my reference system.