Cessaro, Döhmann, Acustica Applicata

Big components need a big room and a big man to explain it. Nick Döhmann talked turkey and then some regarding his new Döhmann Helix One Mk3 turntable ($70,000) with a new 10.5” Supatrac Nighthawk tonearm (£12,500), and Air Tight Opus 1 cartridge.

Amplification was the same tricked-out, tube-powered bonanza I saw in in Jeffrey Catalano’s High Water Sound room at AXPONA: Acustica Applicata’s new Alieno Tube Phono Stage (€35,014), Line Preamplifier ($75,000), and the new Alieno 150-120 LTD stereo amplifier (€56,107). The 150-120 LTD allows use of either 300B or 2A3 tubes—150Wpc with the 300B, 120wpc with the 2A3. The forthcoming Alieno Tube Phono Stage Extreme will arrive in 2025 (€45,994)

The massive, new Cessaro Zeta Horn ZR3 Loudspeakers with powered subs ($600,000/pair) brought down the room, this end game in sonic heaven producing not only the most massive soundstage of High End Munich, but a sound that veered between pure charm and overwhelming power.

Playing U2’s “Love Comes Tumbling” didn’t move me as a piece of music, but as an expression of hi-fi beauty and shaping I was overwhelmed and impressed. The joy continued with the Sheffield Labs pressing pf Erich Leinsdorf and the Los Angeles Philharmonic playing Wagner & Prokofiev, which was a pure thrill ride of physicality, power, and—yes—purity.

Sometimes a simple system with outlined boundaries is a perfect reason for playing music. But the Cessaro, Döhmann, Acustica Applicata rig was something entirely different: music as playback possibility, of goals and glory.