Excellence from AMG, DS Audio, Musical Surroundings, and more

Beautiful and warm sound, gorgeous midrange, absolutely quiet surfaces with silence between the notes—these were some of my impressions upon hearing Natalie Merchant's performance of "The Butcher's Boy," from the LP version of Kronos Quartet's Folk Songs, on this brightly backlit, hard to photograph system from Musical Surroundings.

Most important, however, was the light that projected from the loudspeakers. Courtesy of an AMG Giro G9T turntable/Turbo 9" tonearm combination ($13,500) plus Turbo tonearm cable ($2250); new DS W2 optical phono cartridge system ($13,000); Giro-specific isolation base by HRS ($2595); Musical Surroundings SuperNova III phono stage ($5000); Nagra Classic INT integrated amplifier ($19,500); Wilson Audio Sabrina speakers ($16,900/pair); Transparent Audio Ultra cabling; and Harmonic Resolution Systems HRS SXR stand, a bit of Prokofiev's Romeo and Juliet sounded clear, beautifully detailed, and transparent. Although I missed the weight that larger speakers deliver, I thought the percussion excellent, albeit presented with an extra bit of winning warmth. The electronics moved fairly fast, but speaker setup could not fully compensate for room-related bass booming.