VTL and Avalon
I literally breathed a sigh of relief when I entered this room. Not that anything was wrong with the exceptional sound of the vast majority of rooms I visited. But of all the systems I auditioned, this one felt most like a safe haven. It was like coming home.
Part of my response may be due to the fact that Casa Bellecci-Serinus is graced with a similar pair of VTL 450 monoblocks ($15,000/pair). But in this room, the VTLs were equipped, not with the KT-88s I use, but with Svetlana C 6550s that were delivering beautifully controlled bass, copious color, and extended highs. That, of course, has everything to do with the Avalon Acoustics Indra ($19,995/pair), which are designed to be played with the grilles on (see Wes Phillips' review in the October issue); the VTL TL 6.5 Signature Line preamplifier ($11,500) and new TP-6.5 Signature Phono Preamplifier ($8500); the fabled Ayre Acoustics C-5xe universal player ($5950); Cardas Golden Reference interconnects ($949/first meter), speaker cable ($1298/first meter), and power cords ($525/first 1.5 meter); and Finite Elemente Pagode Master Reference 600 5-Level stand ($8400) and amp stands ($1500 each). Avalon's Rob Thomas had also secreted 5 of his own noise snuffers ($80/set of three) in the wall outlets and three black walnut Mulder Audio Power line conditioners ($500 each) behind various pieces of equipment.
I didn't hear the phono section, also equipped with Ayre Acoustics DPS turntable and Dynavector cartridge. But the CD section left me with warm fuzzies inside. Thank you, Rob Thomas and Luke and Bea Manley.