Going to Bed with the Vandersteens

It was late. I was exhausted. After a delicious dinner, I stopped at the Venetian with the intention of picking up my laptop, camera, and other heavy things before returning to my hotel room and passing out. When I reached the 29th floor, however, I ran into Richard Vandersteen and his family. They were also coming from a dinner, also looking exhausted.

"Stephen Mejias," announced Richard’s daughter, Jaclyn Gooding.

"Hello, Stephen," said Richard.

"Hello. How are you?"

"Doing good. Why haven't you been to our room?"

"I have been. Every time I stopped by, no one was there."

"How did you like the sound?"

"Nothing was playing!" I exclaimed—almost miffed, feeling righteous or something.

"You were in our display room," Jaclyn informed me. "We've got another room right around the corner."

"Oh. Well, bite my tongue."

"You wanna come in for a listen now?" asked Richard.

His wife's tired eyes shot open for just a second. But how could I say no? I was embarrassed. Plus: I had wanted to play a couple of songs for Jaclyn.

Once inside, the Vandersteens sat behind me, allowing me to relax in the sweet spot while we listened. The system included the very cool Aesthetix Callisto Eclipse line stage with dual power supply and remote ($22,000), dazzling Joule Electra VZN-160 Mk.III Grand Marquis monoblocks ($18,000/pair), and handsome Vandersteen Carbon Fiber 5A ($21,900/pair). I played Henry Fiol's "Ahora Me Da Pena." The sound was involving and gentle and true—that is, it matched my recollection of it in my own listening room. I mentioned this to Richard.

I listened and listened and listened, suddenly feeling revitalized. I played Orquesta La Conspiracion's "Sangre La Colora." I asked to hear something by John Lee Hooker. His voice was incredible, almost as if he was in the room. Beside me was a stack of wonderful music: Chet Baker, Muddy Waters, Ray Charles. I listened to another and another. I lost sense of time and place. I wanted to listen to more, share more.

Excited now, I turned around to ask a question.

It would have to wait. I whispered goodnight and let myself out.