John Atkinson

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John Atkinson Posted: Jun 10, 2013 0 comments
“An honest sound; clarity without detail being thrust forward at the listener,” read my notes from this room at the Hilton, which featured the superb-sounding TAD Evolution One speakers ($29,800/pair) that Kal Rubinson reviews in the July 2013 issue of Stereophile. Both Eva Cassidy singing “Fields of Gold” and the Sir Charles MacKerras’s “Living Stereo” recording of Sibelius’s Finlandia (the latter one of the first classical recordings I owned more than 50 years ago) were well-served by this system, which included Zesto’s Andros PS1 tube phono stage ($4300) that Michael Fremer liked so much when he reviewed it in his March 2013 “Analog Corner” column, Zesto’s new Leto tubed line stage ($7500), and A VAC Phi 200 power amplifier ($9990), all hooked up with WyWires wires. Turntable was the Merrill-Williams ($7200) fitted with a Triplanar arm ($6000) and a Dynavector XX2 Mk.II cartridge ($1985).
John Atkinson Posted: Jun 07, 2012 0 comments
Zesto was also using TAD CR1 speakers for the debut of their new Leto tubed line preamplifier ($7500, top), which, like the Andros phono stage (bottom), is made in the USA. With a system comprising a Gamut D200 power amp, a Merrill Williams turntable fitted with a Triplanar arm and a Dynavector XX2 Mk.II cartridge, a Lindemann DAC fed data from a PC running J River software, with WyWire cables used throughout, the Ozawa performance of Mahler's Symphony 1, with the Boston Philharmonic on a typically bright-sounding DG LP, had me sitting for the entire first movement, so low was the noisefloor and so high the dynamic range. AC power was being conditioned by Spiritual Audio's VX-9 power conditioner.
John Atkinson Posted: Jun 07, 2012 1 comments
I first heard the Zesto Andros PS1 phono stage ($3900) at the 2011 Rocky Mountain Audio Fest and was impressed by what I heard. The Andros was being used in the One World Audio room in the Hilton, with a Lindemann amplifier driving speakers from Voce Audio, a name new to me. The Voce UA-3 is a large floorstander using a ring-radiator tweeter recessed behind a short horn. Source was a 1978 Luxman PD-444 turntable fitted with a TriPlanar arm and a Lyra Kleos cartridge. Cabling was all WyWires. The sound of bass player Stanley Clarke's acoustic 2009 album, Jazz in the Garden, with Hiromi on piano and Lenny White on drums, had excellent dynamics but was overall a little mellow.
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John Atkinson Posted: Jan 14, 2011 0 comments
Utah-based Zu Audio does indeed goes its own way, with retro, almost-full-range pulp-cone drive-units used in high-sensitivity designs. (See Art Dudley's review of the $4000/pair Essence in the October 2009 Stereophile. All of Zu's speakers have been moderately priced, so I was not expecting to see and hear a design costing $40,000/pair when I went into the Zu room at T.H.E. Show.

The Dominance uses three 10" paper-cone drivers, each with a whizzer cone, to cover the range from 27Hz to 12kHz. Each is in its own sub-enclosure featuring Zu's proprietary ZuRG loading (See AD's review) with the outer two tuned identically and the central drive-unit adjusted to give a bit more upper-midrange energy. There is also a downward-firing 15" subwoofer, covering the octave below 27Hz, and completing the line-up are two horn-loaded ring-radiator tweeters operating above 12kHz. Unusually, these are placed at the top and bottom of the Dominance.

For the dem, the subwoofer was powered by a Pass Labs XA30.5 but the main drive-units were driven by a 1.5Wpc Yamamoto SET amp. Yup, just 1.5W, but the Dominances still managed to fill the room with sound. Lows were tight and extended; imaging was tangible; jump factor was startling; but I couldn't get away from a touch of character in the mid-treble imparted by those whizzer cones.

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