Blue Light Audio, Evolution, darTZeel, Merging Technologies, Wave Kinetics, Durand

"Why is there a box of parts next to each of the Evolution loudspeakers?" I jokingly asked Blue Light Audio's Jonathan Tinn. He explained that those were the external crossovers for the three-way Maestoso loudspeakers ($18,900/pair) with their lids off. The speakers were being driven by the darTZeel NHB-108 Model Two power amplifier ($44,000), which was making its North American debut at AXPONA, and preamp was that Mikey Fremer favorite, the darTZeel NHB-18NS Mk.II ($44,000 with phono stage).

I listened to a CD transfer of Ray Lamontagne singing and playing acoustic guitar played with Merging Technologies' Merging+NADAC D/A processor ($10,000) with its optional external power supply ($6000) and the new Merging+Clock-U external clock ($36,000 making its first-ever appearance), and was impressed by the smooth, clear, detailed presentation.

We then changed to LP playback, with "The Needle and the Damage Done" from Neil Young's Live at Massey Hall LP, played on a Wave Kinetics NVS direct-drive turntable ($45,000 plus $600 for the W8 record weight and reviewed by Michael Fremer in our October 2012 issue) fitted with a Durand Tosca tonearm ($14,950) and the no-longer-available Ortofon MC Century cartridge. Wow!

I finished my listening to this admittedly super-expensive system with a live DSD recording of a Debussy piece by Russian pianist Ilya Itin decoded by the Merging Technologies DAC—Double wow!!

tonykaz's picture

Nice Catch Mr.JA.

Did it have a Price Tagging? or did you ask ?

It's symbolic of 33.3's extravagant expense.

Can we presume it tests up there with A+ recommended Components ? ( I'm being sarcastic )

Tony in Michigan

misterc59's picture

Once again with the anti-vinyl comment.
We get you point, comment after comment.
Please cease and desist.
How many anti-digital (as a format) comments do you see on this site time after time?
It is and has been getting tiresome.

Terry's picture should be noted that the external crossovers are 'beta' units, readied for the show. Production crossovers will be (according to the designer) half the height of what we saw. That will make them much more visually-friendly.

I will agree with the "wow" and "double-wow"....the presentation I heard was clear, clean, but rich and musical....and one of the best systems at AXPONA.