Atelier Audio: Diptyque, Kora, Aqua Acoustic, Ocellia, Puritan Audio Laboratories, Plixir

All prices listed are in Canadian dollars.

Atelier Audio's room was buzzing the couple of times I'd passed by to peer inside, and I don't mean some sort of transformer noise. I mean with people. It was consistently abuzz with visitors. Luckily, I was eventually able to snatch a seat during an Atelier Audio demo; then I understood why this room was so popular.

First were the speakers, the made-in-France Diptyque DP140 MKII ($19,990/pair). These isodynamic panels didn't look like anything else at the show, nor did they sound like anything else. Their sound is almost 2A3 SET-like in its focused explicitness, tangible presence, and at-the-event transparency—but the bass, rated to go down to 35Hz, was limber and well-defined. (Try that with a 2A3 SET.) The Diptyques seemed to reveal the life force of the artists behind the performance.

It takes a village of components to raise a sound system, or something like that, so all the components in the signal deserve praise: a 100Wpc Kora TB200 tube integrated amplifier ($15,900)— Kora gear has always sounded good to me—an Aqua Formula DAC ($21,000), a Plixir Elite BAC 3000 power conditioner ($8200), a Puritan Audio Laboratories PSM156 Studio Master Mains Purifier ($2,500), and cabling by Ocellia. Also being shown, but not played was a Kora 140 DAC ($12,500).

Among my notes scribbled while I was listening to this system: pure tone, rich and textured vocals, cushions of harmonics, microdetailed, remarkable.