HiFi Imports' Big System

For every reason under the sun, the big system from HiFi Imports of Colorado Springs should have sounded spectacular. Alas, given the 10' air space above the ceilings of most of the big conference rooms on the Doubletree's mezzanine, the law of the day was, the bigger they are, the farther they fall.

Faced with Venture Grand Ultimate Mk.II loudspeakers ($98,000/pair), the superb Spiral Groove SF1.1 turntable with Graham Phantom II arm and Transfiguration Orpheus cartridge ($37,000), Weiss Man 301 music archive network player ($9083 or $12,262 with DAC), and a host of equipment from Thrax—Thrax Dionysos line-level preamplifier ($21,500), Orpheus phono preamplifier ($21,500), Maxiumus DAC ($33,000), Spartacus triode monoblock amplifiers ($48,500, presumably for the pair), and Enklein Arcos cables that I expect cost more than a few pennies, I sat in anticipation of great sound. Instead, Chesky Records' Amber Rubarth sounded midrange-heavy and lacked sparkle. Which, in terms of the system's ultimate potential, means only that location is everything.