Bache Audio & Alexus Audio from Brooklyn

I have to admit, at past shows, Bache Audio's Greg Belman has urged me to visit his and Alex Choren's shared Alexus Audio room, and I've begged off, "too busy" the usual lame excuse. But this time I didn't and damn! I was glad I made it into this small oasis of good music and excellent high-fidelity reproduction.

Based in Brooklyn, Belman and Choren are of Russian origin, and their thick accents are oddly comforting. They brought the biggest box of vinyl I'd yet seen at CAF, and the goodies they played on their natural, sweetly detailed system included Pee Wee Russell's Portrait of Pee Wee, Ben Webster's Stormy Weather (a Black Lion reissue), and my biggest vinyl surprise of the show so far, vocalist Ingram Washington's What A Difference A Day Makes (STS). As I typically do when a system frankly resembles my own, I relaxed into the tunes and almost forgot to leave.

Greg and Alex's subtle but potent system included a Brinkman turntable with DS Audio cart, Alexus Audio Perfect Live V2 preamplifier with two Russian 6S45P tubes ($12,000, above), Alexus Audio 15Wpc battery-powered SET amp with two Chinese-made 300B power tubes ($12,000, below) and Bache Audio 002 Limited Edition, 96dB sensitivity into 6 ohms, four-way floorstanding loudspeakers ($22,500/pair). These use a Fostex FT96-EX2 super tweeter, an 8" Tang Band midrange unit that has had its whizzer cone removed, and both passive and active woofers. One 10" woofers has a cloth surround, the other with a rubber surround. The latter is powered with a class-D amplifier.

With the Alexus phono preamplifier (below), Pee Wee's vinyl spoke to me: warm, woody, spacious, bursting with dynamics. Webster's disc had texture, supple attack and dynamic punch. Even Diana Krall sounded uber-natural and convincing on this sweetly intimate but surprisingly dynamic Brooklyn-based hi-fi assemblage.