Cake Audio: Eye/Ear Candy Courtesy of Alsyvox Botticelli loudspeakers & Vitus SS-103 amplifier, Vitus SL-103 preamplifier, Vitus SP-103 phono preamplifier, Vitus SCD-025 CD player, CAD Ground Control, Kuzma turntable

I wonder if France would have been the same had Marie Antoinette had access to a system like this. Dominating the view in this room, presented by San Clemente, California's Cake Audio (not the Czech audio manufacturer), was the joint US premiere of the striking Alsyvox Botticelli ribbon loudspeakers ($92,000/pair + $30,000 optional external crossovers) and Vitus SS-103 stereo amplifier ($40,000).

Dominating the ear was the heavenly—truly heavenly—interplay of violin and cello on the famous Oistrakh/Rostropovich/Richter LP (released in the US on EMI/Angel) of Beethoven's Triple Concerto. Although the orchestral swells were a bit too huge at the chosen volume, the solo strings were just right. The piano sounded too airily recorded, however. I know this is a fabled recording, but that's what I heard.

On smaller fare, the system was entrancing, with wonderful highs and a captivating sense of spaciousness. Tonalities were just right on a CD of Lou Harrison's Violin Concerto—great room-clearing music, btw—and the experience wonderful albeit, lacking the last iota of percussive impact. Detail on the violin was astounding. Back to LP, Satchmo sounded fabulous on both voice and trumpet. "Catches Armstrong's midrange to perfection," I wrote in my notes, "and the highs are alive but not too piercing." Thanks to CAD (Computer Audio Design) Ground Controls GC1 ($1995), which Michael Fremer has praised, silences between notes were a joy. I loved the huge space between solo violin and the percussive array behind it.

The Vitus 22-103 Stereo Amplifier ($40,800), which weighs 175lb, is manually switchable between 50Wpc in class-A and 150Wpc in class-AB. Also heard were the Vitus SL-103 preamplifier ($34,800), Vitus SP-103 phono preamplifier ($38,400), and Vitus SCD-025 CD player/DAC ($25,200). I didn't hear the new Vitus integrated, but its optional DAC/streamer board does MQA, and a phono board is on the way. Table and arm were Kuzma, cartridge Dynavector, and cables Purist Dominus. Praise be to God, if not to the French nobility. Sorry, Marie.

Anton's picture

If I were Bill Gates, or Elon Musk, or Jeff Bezos, or Jim Austin, I'd buy these and live happily ever after.

Maybe Herb can grab a pair for his bothy system.

Ortofan's picture

... the Class A or Class AB bias setting?

Rodan's picture

Jason, your coverage is the next best thing to attending the show--although, I'm sorry to say it's a distant second to actually meeting up with old and new friends (and gear).

By the way, I believe the Beethoven Triple Concerto you were listening to was an EMI recording (ASD 2582), with Karajan conducting the Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra; it's the only disc I'm aware of with this star-studded lineup.

Keep up the good work!

Jason Victor Serinus's picture

So much for my memory.

What I need to do sometime is compare this fabled recording, in the best remastering I can stream, with the recent one on Harmonia Mundi with Isabelle Faust and others. I expect them to occupy two very different universes. I suppose that the XRCD mentioned below is another possibility.

Thank you all,


Ortofan's picture

... include the version by Stern/Rose/Istomin with Ormandy/Philadelphia Orch.

Jim Austin's picture

I made the correction.

Jim Austin, Editor

Ortofan's picture

... Beethoven Triple Concerto on LP and go directly to the Hi-Q XRCD.

Charles E Flynn's picture

bobvin's picture

Jason, we met once at Music Matters. I’m a little confused in that I didn’t get your reference to French nobility… Vitus is from Denmark to my knowledge, and Alsyvox from Spain (also not a US premier, has been shown at RMAF in 2018 & 2019)?

My own pair of Botticelli X are shipping from Spain this week, I will be driving with Pilium. They are replacing my Wilson Alexia. If you find yourself down Portland way and in need of a music fix you’d be welcome. I will also have Diesis “Roma” horn / open-baffle hybrids and Bayz Courante 2.0 to listen to.

Jim Austin's picture

This room was presented by Cake Audio (which I intend to make clear in a revision momentarily, and Marie Antoinette supposedly said "Let them eat cake!" I suspect it's also a sly comment on the luxury of this system.

What Marie Antoinette actually referred not to cake but too brioche. I won't stop to ponder the significance of that.

Jim Austin, Editor

bobvin's picture

I can be a little slow. Thanks for that. :-)

Charles E Flynn's picture

Please see "Did Marie-Antoinette really say 'Let them eat cake'?"

curmudgeon47's picture

It has to be people with more money than sense. Give me $25k max and
I will put together for you a system that will cause you to have
cluster orgasms. $92k for loudspeakers? The mind boggles.

Lorton's picture

And those who have the money, probably have some sense ;)
These sounded very good in the Munich high-end show.

tkolacny's picture

I remember a very interesting Armstrong record playing in this room - think someone said it was a 45, but I didn't catch the title. As for the speakers ... always good to have ambitions I suppose. Maybe there will be a more affordable version at some point in time.