Bliss with dCS, Rockport, D'Agostino, Transparent

What better way to end a day than to move from Magico/Soulution/Baetis/BAD/Vovox to a system in which dCS's digital statement, the ne plus ultra Vivaldi four-stack marvel (something like $108,496 plus all those cables to power and connect it), Dan D'Agostino Momentum monoblock amplifiers ($55,000/pair), Transparent MM2 cabling, and the new Rockport Cygnus loudspeakers ($62,500/pair). The sound was very different than Magico's on the next floor of the Mirage, and equally extraordinary.

Having usually heard dCS paired with Wilson Audio, it was a nice change of pace to discover it sounding so good with Andy Payor's new Rockport loudspeakers. The new Cygnus mates a 1" beryllium-dome tweeter (with new waveguide) and 6" carbon-fiber–sandwich composite midrange with two 10" carbon-fiber–sandwich composite woofers. The result is a 285 lb., 50.5" tall baby with a frequency response of 20Hz–30kHz, –3dB; a nominal impedance of 4 ohms; and sensitivity of 90dB.

Given that the Cygnus was voiced using both the dCS Vivaldi and Transparent cabling, it sounded right at home. One major difference from Wilson loudspeakers, however, is that its cabinet is built from multiple layer, constrained-mode damped MDF which is internally braced, rather than from a proprietary, non-resonant compound.

Going from a performance by Ray LaMontagne to Reference Recordings' version of the rollicking polka from Shostakovich's Age of Gold, I noted that the system sounded far more open and illumined than the one I had heard right before. Although I didn't have the same Sarah Vaughan recording as played on the Baetis server in the Magico room, a slightly later, totally brilliant rendition of "Send in the Clowns" with Duke Ellington and his orchestra revealed instrumental complexities and a differentiation of bass timbres that I honestly had not heard before. In that moment, as never quite before, I got just how good the dCS Vivaldi is.

I also had to acknowledge that, as different as this system may have sounded from Magico's, both systems were demonstration class. Some people prefer brighter, more resonant halls; others prefer drier and/or darker environments. I know my preferred path to musical nirvana, both live and recorded, and it's for maximum illumination. But who am I to dictate what you "should" prefer, especially since both can serve as "absolute" standards? The bottom line is, I'd go home with either of them, or with any of the dCS/VTL/Wilson pairings I've heard on previous occasions, in a heartbeat.

Our final listen was to baroque violinist Rachel Podger play Bertali's Chiacona (Chaconne) on her latest Channel Classics SACD, Perla Barocca. How different her violin, joined by harpsichord, organ, and theorbo, sounded on this system than on a smaller one I had heard a day earlier. The range of colors was astounding. If ever a system could smile, this was it. Bravo to John Quick for putting together another winner.

John Atkinson Comments: Yup, one of my best sounds at the 2015 CES. Simply magic. Listening to Shirley Horn singing Jacques Brel's "If You Go Away," I jotted down in my notebook that "I don't see how reproduced sound can get any better than this!"

Allen Fant's picture

Beautiful pic and excellent commentary- JVS.