An Acoustic Signature Ascona with SME Series 5 tonearm and low-out moving-coil Ortofon Rohmann cartridge made beautiful music leading a system comprising VTL MB-450 Series III monoblock power amplifiers, TL-7.5 Series III preamplifier, and TP-6.5 phono preamplifier. Speakers were the distinctive and dynamic Vivid G2 Giya.
To start off our listening, I picked one of my sister’s favorite albums, Adele’s 21. I noted a great sense of forward momentum and stunning dynamic range, all of Adele’s strong soulfulness communicated fully. I turned to Rosemarie, and I searched for some sign of recognition of the beauty which radiated before us...
NAD’s C 446 Digital Media Tuner (799) utilizes the Universal Plug and Play (UPnP) client for playback of music files from a computer, Android or Apple iOS device, or network hard drive. The C 446 also includes an Internet radio portal with support for cloud music services, AM/FM tuner (DAB/DAB+, where available), uses a 24-bit/192kHz DAC, and supports MP3, FLAC, WMA, WAV, and AAC files.
NAD’s C 390DD (2500) is the company’s next “Direct Digital” integrated amplifier and takes technology from the more expensive M3 and M2 models. The user will have the choice to add HDMI and phono inputs.
“We wanted to create an individual solution for the customer. Our customers should be able to live a long time with our products.”
The C 390DD should be available by around September.
The 150Wpc C 375BEE (1399) uses technology found in NAD’s M3 Master Series amplifier and benefits from the company’s “Building Block” design, allowing for the addition of the PP375 phono stage (250) and other affordable options.
Designed to be the heart of a small and stylish music system, NAD’s smart-looking Viso Three is a 50Wpc CD-receiver with USB input, 30 AM/FM station presets, and iPod dock with remote function and song display.
The ground floor halls of the M.O.C. contained booths with both static and live demos to resemble something like CES’s Las Vegas Convention Center, but were only infinitely more pleasant, more manageable, better coordinated, and more attractive.
Boston Acoustic’ new A 25 ($300/pair) is housed in an attractive, high-gloss cabinet, uses a 1” tweeter and 5.25” ceramic/glass fiber polymer mid-woofer, and was designed with the help of Karl-Heinz Fink, Kieron Dunk, and Ken Ishiwataa formidable team.
A review sample has arrived at Stereophile HQ, and I’m looking forward to listening.
Respected designer Ken Ishiwata stands beside the new top-of-the-line A-Series loudspeaker from Boston Acoustics. The speaker’s central drive units are completely suspended from the cabinet for isolation of all vibrations. The system we heard included the Marantz SA-7S1 SACD player, SC-7S2 preamplifier, MA-9S2 power amplifier, and Charismatech cables, all at least partially voiced and designed by Ishiwata for optimum synergy.
“We take a ‘whole system approach,’” Ishiwata said.
“The soundstage is very important,” he continued. “Other aspects of performance are matters of preference, but we focus on creating a very stable soundstage. Everything else comes from that.”
I noted outstanding overall scale with good soundstage height and easy, unforced dynamics. Music developed, blossomed, and blushed like a sunrise. This was a system I could have happily listened to for a long, long time.
A look at the complete Marantz/Boston Acoustics system. Toe-in was pretty extreme, helping to create a well-focused and stable soundstage. Listening to this system, it was easy to completely forget about the components and be carried away by the music.
Bergmann’s Magne turntable partnered with large and lovely Impresario loudspeakers, Stage III Concepts cables, and a suite of components from Ypsilon, including the PST100 line preamplifier, reviewed by Mikey Fremer in our July issue. The system matched physicality, drama, dynamics, and scale with delicacy and grace.
Musical Surroundings’ Garth Leerer explained that the success of his company has hinged upon his ability to find and work with great designers. Often these relationships grow naturally over time and depend on the perfect alignment of certain circumstances, as was the case when Northern California designer Michael Yee needed someone to market his Phonomena phono stage: It was too inexpensive for one distributor, too expensive for another, but just right for Leerer; and, so, a long relationship was born.
In the case of the Fosgate Signature phono stage ($2500), Jim Fosgate had been tinkering with the design for nearly 30 years. After a break from analog, Fosgate wanted to get back into vinyl. He first became a customer of Musical Surroundings, and later approached Leerer with a design. The Fosgate Signature is an all-tube, MM/MC design at a real-world price, “a dream product” for Leerer.
Along with the Signature phono preamp and Fozgometer azimuth tool (reviewed by Michael Fremer in our May 2010 issue), Fosgate will design a line stage and power amplifier for Musical Surroundings, to be debuted at the 2011 Rocky Mountain Audio Fest.
Musical Surroundings’ ARCMaster will help you install just about any tonearm in the world. Garth Leerer explained it to me, and, though I didn’t understand a single thing he said, he still somehow managed to make it sound simple.