High Water Sound: The All-Important Tear Factor

Although this photograph doesn’t express much of the equipment in Jeffrey Catalano’s High Water Sound suite, it does give some sense of the room’s vibe: warm, relaxed, soothing, effortless, lit with gold.

I smiled when I saw the great stacks of vinyl propped up against the room’s side wall—far more vinyl than can possibly be played during a 3-day event, one might think; but, if anyone could get through all of those sides, it would be Jeffrey Catalano.

I’ll happily confess now that I failed to do my job while in this room. I saw Catalano sitting there in the front row, looking forward, contemplating the music, and I thought about going up to him, asking him for details on the system—What are we listening to? What’s new?—but there was something so right about the scene, about the sound, about the moment, that I just couldn’t bring myself to cause a disruption. I’m sorry.

The system, Catalano later shared with me via e-mail: TW-Acustic Black Knight turntable ($40,000), two TW-Acustic 10.5 tonearms ($5500 each), Ortofon Winfeld cartridge ($3800), Dynavector XV1-S mono cartridge ($5950), Tron Electric Seven Ultimate Stereo ($12,500) and Tron Electric Seven Mono ($12,000) phono preamplifiers, 22Wpc Horning Hybrid Sati 1605 SE integrated amplifier ($24,000), and Horning Hybrid Eufrodite Ultimate Zigma Plus loudspeakers ($22,000/pair). Equipment support was provided by Silent Running Audio’s Scuttle Rack ($7700) and various Ohio XL bases ($1500–$2000). Cables were from Audience, WSS, and Stealth.

A very expensive system—no doubt about that—but it created the prettiest and most compelling sound I heard at Axpona. I felt as though I were in a concert hall, gripped by the music, by the space around me, by the physical motions of musicians striking, plucking, and bowing their gorgeous instruments. There was a certain sacredness to the scene, a sense that what was taking place should not and could not be disturbed.

“Hope you dug the Oistrakh/Bruch,” Catalano wrote. “It’s a fairly rare mono pressing with just the right amount of passion, technique, sound, and the all important tear factor.”


deckeda's picture

... I walked into this packed room. It wasn't Catalano playing the records, but two other guys running the room. Everyone was entranced with The Beatles' "A Day in the Life".

"There was a certain sacredness to the scene, a sense that what was taking place should not and could not be disturbed."

Yes Stephen, you nailed it exactly.

Next up, an old Chet Atkins LP that had everyone bopping. I asked to see the cover, looked at it and promptly forgot which one it was. There goes any pseudo-journalistic cred I might have had.

phfffun's picture

The price of this system is obscene. As a newcomer to hi-fi this is a major turn off in so many ways. 

DetroitVinylRob's picture

It's too bad audio show suites like Jeffrey Catalano’s High Water Sound

aren't the norm rather than a rarity... his kit can generally be somewhat expensive, but maybe

if one does not look at it as a long term investment. And in turn, why 

would anyone go wading through humanity at an auto show to view the new civic rather

than the Bentley Continental GT? What could be, is way more promising than just something to

get you economically from point A to B. It's obvious that Jeff's room is about the music, hugh?!

what a concept!

Happy Listening!