Groovin' with Stillpoints, Bricasti, Rockport Technologies, Viola Audio, Shunyata

Sometimes I wonder what the etiquette is at audio shows. I mean, nobody tells you anything. It’s fair to assume that playing windmill-style air guitar to songs by the Who is generally frowned upon, but is it gauche to sway and groove in your chair when the music moves you? Or do we instead straighten our backs, sit perfectly still, and concentrate? May you sing along to a favorite song? (I try not to, but it’s hard.) When an exhibitor hands you an iPad with a hundred million streaming choices, how many tracks may you play before the other people in the room have cause to hate-stare at you?

Also, was I out of line when I played a punk rock song—"The Once Over Twice" by X—in the Stillpoints room? I think it might have upset the guest who had picked the Dave Brubeck Quartet’s "Take Five" to audition that remarkable-sounding system. It sounded great. Then, when the iPad was handed to me, I hogged it for 25, 30 minutes. Too long, I know. In my defense, everything sounded: So. Damn. Good.

Rockport Technologies' Atria II loudspeakers ($38,000) on Stillpoint Ultra 7 speaker feet ($10,392 for eight) took pride of place in the room. The Rockports were fed by a Viola Sonata two-chassis preamp ($33,800) and a Viola Cadence power amp ($34,000). The analog front end consisted of a rebuilt Revox PR 99 MkII reel-to-reel deck with an Analog High Fidelity Tape Head preamp. On the digital side, a Bricasti M1 S2 DAC ($12,000) did the honors.

Contributing to the sonic spectacle was a Stillpoints Reference ESS 40"-wide rack with Ultra 6 V2 isolators and Ultra 7 V2 feet ($65,000 for the combo), a Shunyata Research Everest 8000 power conditioner ($9900), and a Shunyata Altaira grounding system ($8,400). Power cables were Purist Audio Design's Aquila and Dominus models ($1119/ea and $4609/ea, respectively). Madison Audio Labs supplied the interconnects and speaker cables ($10,000 total).

I played most or all of Marian Hill’s "Differently," Gordon Goodwin’s "Hunting Wabbits," Meshell Ndgeocello's "The Womb," Genesis' "Firth of Fifth," David Bowie’s "Bring me the Disco King," Post Malone's "Stay," Thaikkudam Bridge's "Sanne," and the X song I already mentioned. That’s a lot of music for what was supposed to be a quick show audition; but then, it was an extraordinary stereo rig. It seemed to keep whispering to me "Just one more."

Fast, pure, musical, and completely involving, this system was one of AXPONA 2024's highlights for me.

mauidj's picture

65 large for a stand and feet…..come on…they’re taking the piss!

daveyf's picture

And there’s the issue…they get away with taking the piss because someone will think that is a fair price to pay! If you make $10m a year, what’s 65 large? This is the consumer they are targeting, certainly NOT the music loving hobbyist.