Audio-Ultra Seduces with Smooth-Talking Taiko, MSB, Constellation, Magico, and Stromtank Gear

What a great way to start a show. I don't know what impelled me to choose my CD of Patricia Barber's Higher, but the combination of Constellation's smooth-talking Pictor line stage with DC blocker ($24,500) and DC filter ($8000) with the company's Centaur II 500 amplifier ($80,000) and Magico S5 MkII loudspeakers ($45,500/pair) was perfect for Barber's cool, no-nonsense presentation. This was one smooth, toned-down, ultra-clean system that all but guaranteed non-fatiguing listening for hours and hours upon end.

Of course, a lot of other components also deserve credit. Right off the bat come the Taiko Extreme music server ($32,000) and MSB's Reference Transport ($27,000) and Reference DAC with Femto 33 clock and Analog Preamplifier module ($54,000). Then there's the StromTank Q2500 ($27,250), which might have been able to power the amp as well as all front-end components, had the power cable on the amp been long enough to reach it. I, for one, will also include amongst essential components the AudioQuest Mythical Creatures Dragon power cables and XLR interconnect. Stillpoints Aperture room treatment paneling ($850/each), Magico QPods, Critical Mass racks and amp stands, an Intona USB, and one of the CAD GC1 grounding blocks ($2500) that Michael Fremer has raved about—here used solely on the DAC and preamp—rounded out this superb-sounding system.

In the room's rear alcove, Audio-Ultra's Ed DeVito showed off his AU3000 Portable Power Panel (above; $11,999—price includes an audio consultation). Complete with a 4-gauge captive power cable that plugs into a 50-amp receptacle, the panel's wiring is now shielded 8-gauge copper. I'll discover exactly what a version of this panel can do when it's installed in my listening room later in August.

Audio-Ultra's private showroom is located relatively close to the show and SEATAC airport. See for more information.

DougM's picture

Just what the world needs, another half a million dollar system that only hedge fund robber barons can afford, at yet another show dedicated to the 1% that are fleecing the public that can barely afford to eat after paying their rent. And you wonder why audio isn't attracting new consumers.

Glotz's picture

These products wouldn't sell if they didn't perform at their price. The advent of the return policy has made many a discerning audiophile. If it isn't up to snuff in our systems, it gets shipped back and returned.

The only place in existence where the concept of 'trickle-down' actually has real world benefits - high performance audio.

The components I afford today reap the benefits of the technology from the components that came before it. And so will it be in the future. I look forward to new tech taking me closer to music then as well.

davehg's picture

It was fun to see some of the writers in person. I ran into Jason in several rooms along with other reviewers and it was comforting to see how much time they spent listening and asking questions, especially as a kind mention is likely helpful to many who paid decent sums to show their gear.

I enjoyed the show - it’s been a long time since I’ve attended a show and yet, some things didn’t change. The music used was still pretty dismal “old man audiophile” tunes - someone actually played famous blue raincoat. Michael Fremer crashed one session and lit up the room with some Stevie Ray Vaughan and AC/DC - breath of fresh air. The reason the audio industry may have growth issues won’t be because the prices are higher (there were many nice sounding reasonably priced rooms). No, it will be that the music demos will put them to sleep.

It was fun to see and hear a few systems that don’t make the usual pages - the Linkweitz speakers were especially nice, as were the Joseph Pearls and several others. I wished there were a few more brands but all in all I got my money’s worth of fun.

I passed the NFS room and now reading this I wished I had gone in.

Jason Victor Serinus's picture

One room's playlist consisted of tracks they'd clearly picked c. 2002-2004. There was nothing newer. I was amazed how many folks chose classical that was transferred to digital 1987-1991, before digital sound improved. Yet another room had one blockbuster after the other. Diana Kraal to Pictures at an Exhibition. Tchaikovsky's Mazeppa. The old Reference Recordings sampler. Too many people in our industry have forgotten about the music.

Glotz's picture

Couldn't resist.

I have said the word at least 20x in the past month. Lol...