American Sound of Canada: Estelon Forza, Wadax, Boulder, HRS, Transparent

(Prices are in Canadian dollars unless otherwise indicated.)

They say staring is impolite, but as I listened to the music from this system in the American Sound room, it was hard to keep my eye from wandering to gaze lustily at the assembled gear, including the Estelon Forza speakers in Black Pearl Gloss, ($195,000/pair), the class-A, 600Wpc Boulder 2160 power amplifier ($78,000), the VAC Statement preamplifier ($80,000), and the digital duo of the Wadax Reference server ($90,000) and Wadax Reference DAC ($190,000). That's a combined retail cost of $916,250 with the HRS stands and Transparent line conditioner and cables. It may be the most expensive system I’ve encountered in person.

Did it sound like a million bucks? That's a hard call and highly subjective, but the music coming out of it was sublime—pure and sweet, with an effortless quality that made it seem as if the notes had wings.

Did I tell you how beautiful the gear looked?

MatthewT's picture

to hear those Estelons.

Anton's picture

Was it, “Your gear cost should be equal to 30% of the cost of your record collection?”

I bet this system will make all of a well healed modern Audiophile’s 2-3 dozens records sound great!

Anyway… I love the look of those speakers. I hope Nambe is getting a solid royalty.

I could see Jeff Koons getting into the speaker market.

remlab's picture

..I performed a very scientific knuckle rap test from top to bottom on an original Estelon model at a "The Show" in Irvine CA, and it was incredibly inert. No change in the character of the raps anywhere. Outstandingly engineered cabinets, at least when it comes to knuckles;-)

georgehifi's picture

From what JA measured the EPDR load on an amp of those Estelon Forza, you need something like that Boulder 2160 to get them breathing properly in the bottom end without stressing the amp doing it.

Cheers George

Ortofan's picture

... an Air-Tight ATC-3 preamp and ATM-300R power amp in demo use, or were they just on display?

rschryer's picture

...that played an "active" part.

Ortofan's picture

... the Air-Tight amps? (I would have been.)
Surely a request by the distinguished reviewer from Stereophile to make them "active" would not have been turned down by the exhibitors.

rschryer's picture

Companies are reluctant to mess with their setups.

Ortofan's picture

... someone who, based upon the list of exhibitors, might have traveled a significant distance and paid the admission charge to attend the show, only to find out that the equipment from a manufacturer of particular interest was on purely static display.

rschryer's picture

I assume that people who "traveled a significant distance and paid the admission charge to attend the show, only to find out that the equipment from a manufacturer of particular interest was on purely static display", might have made listening to that equipment more of a priority than I did.

tonykaz's picture

is it the same inflated device we here in States buy our groceries with ??? , Or is it a loonie ?

I'm giving you a sitting round of applause for submitting yourself to this level of pressure. ( for our benefit ?)

I hope you make useful connections with those Industry folks that will pipeline you a nice stream of reviewable gear to help inform your admiring fan Base ( like me ). Did you get to meet Karen Sumner ?

Thank you for doing all this work,

Tony in Florida

rschryer's picture

Covering a show is both fun and nerve-racking.

If you want to know the American price of what's listed here in Canadian, the general rule is to knock off about 30%.

Which is almost like saying that you could buy almost every piece of gear mentioned in this report at 30% off! Even the budget-priced stuff!

Gotta go. There's more to write about.

tonykaz's picture

Arn't we all supposed to be North Americans ? NAFTA and all that allows us to make everything in Mexico and sell it for the exact same price ( or even more ) but saving Manufacturers plenty on low cost labor. hmm

Well, I'm still hoping to buy your stuff with Loonies.

By the way, I might end up buying some of these pieces at an Auction or 5 years from now at the Grandchildrens Garage Sale. so sad

I could never swing paying Dealer Costs of 50% of MSRP.

All is well,

Tony in Florida

Siegfried's picture

expensive passive speakers, expensive amp : moron flawed concept. It's amazing that boxes approach still prevails in 2021 and is pushed by major magazine(s). Save 100 Ks $ and get an active system