EQ Audio Video: Musical Fidelity, Focal, WireWorld, Norstone, Aragon, Audience, AudioQuest

(All prices are in Canadian funds unless otherwise specified.)

I generally avoid home theater rooms at an audio show because typically—and reasonably—they’ve been set up mainly with the cinematic experience in mind rather than the musical one. So I hesitated before entering the two adjoining EQ Audio Video rooms because they had screens. But with a little prodding from company owner Ed O’Herlihy—he assured me that the systems in the rooms were strictly stereo—I acquiesced. I’m glad I did.

The first system, which comprised a Musical Fidelity Nu-Vista CD player ($9000), a Nu-Vista 800 integrated amplifier from the same company ($12,500), Focal Aria 948 speakers ($11,000/pair), and wiring and equipment stands by Wireworld and NorStone, respectively, projected a dynamic, expansive soundstage with oodles of air and space between instruments, rich tonal colors, and visceral slam. On Supertramp’s “School”, Roger Hodgson’s voice hung 12' in the air, an effect surely abetted by the very high ceiling. It was something to hear—and behold.

As was the sound from the system in the second room, which employed Aragon Iridium monoblocks ($13,500 each), an Aragon Tungsten preamp ($12,500), Focal Kanta No.3 speakers ($18,000/pair), and a mix of Audience and Audioquest cabling and NorStone racks. On top of sounding powerful, dynamic, melodically fluid, and producing beautifully accurate timbers, this system, in this room, delivered the biggest, most spacious, 3D soundstage I’ve heard.