Acora Acoustics, Valve Amplification Company, Aurender, Cardas, TW-Acustic

Presented in the Nirvana A Ballroom with Val Acora's Acora Acoustics granite SRC-2 loudspeakers ($37,000/pair), Valve Amplification Company (VAC) electronics sounded crisp, lively, and human.

Val Acora is one of the sweetest gentlemen in audio. Soft spoken, friendly, when Val realized I was suffering from a head-wrenching toothache (I recovered early Friday), he led me to a cushy chair, handed me a bottle of water, and asked, "Is there any music I can play to make you feel better"? In my weakened state, Val's generosity of spirit almost made me cry. But the music made me happy.

Val played Bill Evans' classic Explorations vinyl and it sung and leapt across the room with lifelike dynamics, force, and good texture.

As well as Acora's SRC-2 loudspeakers, the rig in Nirvana A included VAC's Statement Phono preamplifier ($80,000), a VAC Statement line stage ($80,000), a pair of VAC Statement 452 power amplifiers ($150,000/pair), United Home Audio's Superdeck open-reel recorder ($90,000), an Aurender N30SA network player ($24,000), a LampizatOr Horizon DAC ($49,000), a TW-Acustic Black Night turntable ($45,000) with a TW-Acustic Raven 12" tonearm ($6000, both courtesy High Water Sound's Jeffrey Catalano), and Dynavector DRT XV-1t and Charisma Signature 1 cartridges ($9450 and $3800, respectively).

The entrance to the Nirvana room featured something every audio reviewer loves-a scannable code for complete setup details and prices. Brilliant!