Baetis Audio & Coherent Audio

And now for the show's first world premiere—The Baetis Audio Reference 4 music server ($12,000), which is chockfull of features and compatible with every streaming service available, as well as being a Roon endpoint.

I've always liked Baetis Audio's audio products, both for their sound quality and flexibility—owner Joe Makkerh (above) has several models in his line, but he will modify a model to suit your listening needs so that you don't have to pay for a feature you don't want, or, conversely, so you can add a feature you do want. The servers are modular and easily upgradeable.

Joe's is a philosophy that prioritizes customer satisfaction. Not surprising, given that before he was owner of Beatis Audio, which was founded in Montana, Joe did customer service for the company remotely from his Montreal hometown, where Baetis is now based. So good was he with customers, that when Baetis founder, John Mingo, decided to retire from the business, he offered Joe the opportunity to take over.

I have a special place in my heart for the company's Prodigy LE server, because it's so cute, and it's blue, and it sounds good and its price starts at only $2500 US, but I have to say the system I heard with the Audio Reference 4 was very good. Accompanying the Baetis was a T+A DAC 200 ($6900 US), an Italian-made, single-ended triode 1.8Wpc Tektron TK Two 2A3/50S-I integrated amp ($5500 US), a pair of 99dB-sensitive Coherent Audio 15 speakers (starting at $11,300/pair US), and various cables by Revelation Audio Labs, Nordost, and Lessloss. The end result was a sound that emotionally engaging, tactile, and tangibly seductive.

All prices in Canadian dollars unless otherwise noted.