The demos given by High Water Sound’s Jeffrey Catalano are as much about music as they are gear. Attending one is like sitting in on a music history lesson with a wonderful professor. Catalano most enjoys making direct connections between the seemingly disparate.
On this occasion, he practically shook with excitement. As he walked across the large listening room, on his way to select one of the many vinyl LPs that had been propped up against a side wall, he paused to address the crowd: “For me, what I’m about to play . . . this is just the best piece of music I’ve heard . . . in . . . years.”
Founded in 2006, the Devon, UKbased Puresound audio company is distributed in the US by NYC’s High Water Sound. Puresound’s compact M845 monoblocks ($10,000/pair) were partnered with the company’s L300 line-level preamp ($8000) to drive a pair of Horning Aristotle loudspeakers ($15,000/pair). The source was a TW-Acustic Raven turntable with a Miyajima Shilabe phono cartridge going through Puresound's P10 phono preamp ($1000) and T10 MC step-up trannie ($500).
Earlier this year, Michael Lavorgna told us about Grimm Audio’s attractive and intelligent LS1 system ($39,900), which incorporates high-resolution (24-bit/192kHz-capable) A/D and D/A converters, six Bruno Putzeysdesigned NCore amplifiers, a DSP processor, USB interface, a preamp/control unit, integrated bass modules, and all the necessary cables. There is even an analog input. All you need to add, then, is a source.
As John Atkinson mentions below, the Marriott’s lobby level was converted into a veritable hypermarket of hi-fi goodies: music, accessories, mini systems, and more. Stereophile occupied a small table toward the end of one busy hall, where we were happy to supply free copies of our November issue, featuring on its cover NAD’s new D 3020 integrated amplifier ($499).
I’ve come to expect nothing but great and interesting music from Audioarts’ Gideon Schwartz. I walked in to Dead Can Dance’s Spirit Chaser, and, though the volume was much lower than that heard in most other rooms, the music was nevertheless engaging and in many ways more inviting: smooth and detailed, with exceptional image focus and superb stage balance.
“YFS” stands for Your Final System. The company’s founder, Kevin O’Brien, worked in the A/V installation business, doing audio consulting and building systems of all prices, until around 2011, when he decided he wanted to solve that problem once and for all. To that end, the YFS HD Ref3 LE “computer transport” ($15,500) combines an 8-core processor, 32GB of double data rate type 3 (DDR3) RAM, a 1TB solid-state drive (SSD), and a SOtM USB 3.0 PCI digital output cardall with heavily modified external power supply and audio circuitry.
Earlier this year, Michael Fremer gave us the scoop on Acoustic Signature’s new Wow turntable ($1950 with Rega 202 tonearm). It employs the same bearing design and AC motor found in all Acoustic Signature turntables, uses a 9-lb CNC-machined platter with a leather mat, and comes in high-gloss black or white acrylic. In person, the ‘table is very attractive and seems extremely well built.
The Funk Firm’s new entry-level turntable, the Flamenca ($1495, without cartridge), will be available next month. The two-speed ‘table uses a DC motor and a very thin (0.15mm) thread-belt to drive its glass platter. Funk refers to their tonearm as a “pickup arm.” A tonearm, explained Pro Audio’s Brian Tucker, implies that the arm imparts its own sonic signature to the system. Funk aims to eliminate the arm from the system, thereby allowing the cartridge to perform optimally. In this case, the Flamenca’s new F6 tonearm is carrying a Dynavector DV 10X5one of my fave cartridges. The F6’s detachable mounting block is meant to simplify cartridge installation. And, while the stock Flamenca is said to be specifically balanced for high-quality performance straight from the box, it can be easily upgraded with Funk’s Achromat platter mat and any of Funk’s higher-end tonearms.