Herb's First Report from CAF

I like the word tenacious. I consider myself tenacious. I admire tenacity. But I have to ask, what is Tenacious Sound? It is an audio dealer in Syracuse, New York, that is about to "tenaciously" open a new store in Nashville, TN. Tenacious had two rooms at the 2017 Capital Audio fest. The first was upscale and featured John Bevier demonstrating the hottest speaker of the moment, one I think sounds fast and lucid in a sometimes-thrilling way, the TAD ME-1K ($14,290/pair). The TADs, which JA tells me will be reviewed by Thomas J. Norton in the January 2018 issue of Stereophile, were driven and sourced by Naim's new Uniti Nova streamer/DAC/amp ($6995) and wired with Black Cat Cable Lupo speaker cables ($1750/3m).

In the second Tenacious Sound room, a more modest system comprised Quad S2 loudspeakers ($999/pair) powered by a Heed Elixir integrated amplifier ($1200), and connected with AudioQuest interconnects and Type 4 loudspeaker cables. The sources were the giant-killing Mobile Fidelity StudioDeck turntable with StudioDeck moving-magnet cartridge ($1149) and a giant-slaying: AudioQuest Dragonfly Red DAC ($199). Was the sound tenacious? Maybe. Was the sound crazy good at a crazy low price? I thought so.

Technics was featuring its new SC-C70 compact stereo system ($999), which is equipped with JENO Engines (Jitter Elimination and Noise-shaping Optimization), LAPC (Load Adaptive Phase Calibration), and Space Tune calibration software. Technics' new, compact SC-C70 was beautiful. It played CDs. And it sounded even better than it looked.

Gamut was showing its handsome-to-the-max RS3i loudspeakers ($20,000/pair), powered by the strong and elegant-sounding Reference 200i power amplifier ($14,000). The D3i preamplifier with optional phono board ($10,000) was connected to the new, jumps-out-of-the-deck-good, super-precise and colorful, Etsuro Urushi Blue moving-coil cartridge. The Etsuro was screwed to the end of the Pear Audio Cornet 2 tonearm ($2000), attached to the Pear Audio Thomas turntable. The sound was liquid, big, and highly resolved, but also colorful and gentle—with strong a wallop when necessary. A contender for best sound so far at CAF.

I came to the Merrill Audio room to sit with an open mind and assess the tone and coherence of the German Physiks Borderland loudspeakers ($36,500/pair), whose full range "unique omnidirectional bending wave DDD driver," which reminds me of the classic Ohm Walsh 2 from the 1980s, is advertised as offering a flat response from 150Hz to 24kHz. A powered sub fires out of the tower's bottom, filling in the bass.

The Borderland was driven by Merrill Audio electronics, including the Veritas monoblocks ($12,000/pair), the beautiful Christine Reference preamplifier ($12,400), Jens Reference phono stage ($15,449). Source was a Lyra Delos moving-coil cartridge ($1995), attached to a VPI Avenger Reference turntable ($22,000) with VPI's new Fat Boy 3D-printed tonearm ($6000) on a Solid Tech Rack of Science ($3000), and strung altogether with Merrill Audio ANAP interconnects and speaker cables.

Dusty Springfield and Roland Batik sounded clean, expansive, and relatively coherent. The soundstage extended a little beyond the outer edges of these exotic gloss-black floorstanders.

shaynet98's picture

Thank you for visiting our rooms at CAF amd the write-up! Because I'm a glutton for punishment, we actually have three rooms! I hope you get to hear our big TAD Evolution room! PS that TAD/Naim system,is my personal system and the Quad S2s are a fave!

Anton's picture

Tenacious attention seems to have been paid by Tenacious Sound to try to make the rooms sound good.

Anybody catch the names of those products?

The ones in the TAD room look awesome, the ones in the smaller room look very familiar.

supamark's picture

look like the Skyline diffusers from (the now out of business in the US) RPG Systems. It's mainly a recording studio product.


shaynet98's picture

We used Vicoustic gear in two of our rooms. The TAD/Naim room used a lot of DC2 diffusors, along with cinema rounds and wavewood

Ortofan's picture

... maybe the S2 is "crazy good", too.

Can KEF send Stereophile a pair of their Reference 1 speakers for comparison with the TAD ME-1K?

shaynet98's picture

We certainly believe the Quad S2 is crazy good! In fact, for many people's applications, we believe the S2 might be the best sub $1000 speaker available, rivaling some more expensive and well known monitors.