California Audio Laboratories Aria Mk.III CD player Tom Norton's Reference System

Sidebar 1: Tom Norton's Reference System

All of the players were auditioned in a system which consisted of the Rowland Consonance preamp, Threshold SA/12e monoblock power amplifiers, and Apogee Stage loudspeakers (on their optional stands). The connection from preamp to all players was via 1.5m lengths of AudioQuest Lapis. Balanced Cardas Hexlink cable was used from preamp to amplifiers. The Stages were bi-wired with Symo cable. Playback levels were adjusted to compensate for the different outputs of the various players when comparison listening was done—a particularly easy (and easily repeatable) procedure with the Rowland preamp. In addition to solo listening, the player was compared with the Esoteric P-2/D-2 transport/processor combination—the latter connected via a non-exotic but characteristically correct (75 ohm) video cable. No CD "tweaks" of any sort were used in the test.—Thomas J. Norton