Aaudio Imports: Wilson-Benesch, Ypsilon, Stage III, Stacore, HB Design, and Aurender

Once the volume was turned up, the fourth movement of Rimsky-Korsakov's Scheherazade filled the large space with exciting sound. Distinguished by appropriate bite and a solid midrange, the system also excelled on Ray Charles and Norah Jones' "Here We Go Again."

Aaudio Import's Brian Ackerman, whom I have encountered at shows for well over 20 years, noted that the Ypsilon Phaethon SE Integrated Amp ($52,000) with "bridged single-ended" output stage has silver-wound transformers. Outputting 110Wpc into 8 ohms and 170 into 4, it joined Ypsilon's tubed DAC 1000SE ($52,000), whose discrete, chip-less topology handles PCM and DSD differently.

When I asked about the curious-looking copper devices sitting on components, Brian told me that they are tuning devices that purportedly redirect EMI around equipment. Manufactured by Victor Liang of Clean Audio, he claimed that they help focus and sort out sound, remove congestion, and open up the soundstage.

Of the USA-made Stage III powercords, the huge Stage III Poseidon ($26,000) contains three vacuum dielectrics, one for each of its three cable runs. Plugged into an HB Design PowerSlave Marble MkII Power Distributor ($21,500), they were clearly doing something right. Ditto for Wilson-Benesch Discovery II loudspeakers with carbon-fiber cabinets and isobaric bass drivers ($27,500/pair).

Other goodies included an Aurender N30SA flagship music server/streamer ($24,000, above) with MC20 Master Rubidium Word Clock ($30,000; above), Stacore CLD footers, and the rest of the Stage III cabling. Fascinating stuff.