Acora, VAC, Oracle, Innuos, MSB

Another room that stood out from the pack for its sonic excellence belonged to Canadian speaker manufacturer Acora Acoustics, which was showcasing its floorstanding SRC-2 model ($62,000/pair) on Quartz stands ($11,000). Upstream components included a two-chassis VAC Master preamp with phono stage ($65,000) and a Master 300 iQ Musicbloc stereo amplifier ($62,000). Source duties alternated between an Oracle Delphi MkVll turntable ($16,875) with Reed 2G tonearm ($5750) and Lyra Atlas Lambda cartridge ($11,995) and an Innuos Statement music server ($28,200) coupled with an MSB Discrete DAC ($29,900).

Having visited Acora rooms several times over the years, I've become a fan of their stone enclosures and their stone-enclosure philosophy. They made me a believer that a totally inert enclosure is preferable to a resonant one if the goal is to reproduce what's on a recording in the highest fidelity possible. How could cabinet resonances improve the fidelity of a recording?

A sound system is just that—a system that must be, um, sound—in that all the components in the chain have to do their parts and play well together. Acora always demoes with top-notch gear from other manufacturers—no exceptions here. I find that Acora speakers allow the components they're demonstrated with to sound unrestrained and free to express themselves. Acora-fronted systems always sound open, effortless, dynamic, spacious, expansive, and expressive. I'm not sure I've ever heard another speaker that exhibits those qualities so completely.

All prices are in Canadian dollars unless otherwise indicated.