JS Audio—Wilson—Dan D'Agostino—HRS—Nordost

The larger of the two JS Audio rooms featured Wilson Sasha W/P speakers driven by Dan D'Agostino's new Momentum monoblock amplifiers. Source was either a Sooloos system or the Sound Devices digital recorder belonging to Wilson's Peter McGrath (pictured standing on that hotel carpet), both feeding data to Meridian's 808 Mk.3 CD player/digital processor, which also controlled playback volume. My hurriedly scrawled notes say that the Sooloos feed was via Ethernet, but don't hold me to that; the Sound Devices was definitely S/PDIF. The cabling was all Nordost Odin, which may well have cost more than everything else in the system, and the source components sat on a Harmonic Recovery Systems rack, which all involved said was a major contributor to the quality of the sound in this room.

And OMG, the sound! Whether it was Peter McGrath's hi-rez recordings or commercial material like Yello's "Stay," you were mainlining the music. Peter asked if he could play some of my hi-rez recordings, and played first the Cantus performance of Eric Whitacre's Lux Aurumque in 24/88.2k fidelity. I was transported to the Sauder Auditorium at Goshen College in Indiana, with the acoustic wrapped around me. The system did subtlety. Peter then played the 24/88.2k master of Attention Screen's "Blizzard Limbs," from Live at Merkin Hall. Again, the acoustic wrapped round me but the drum transients were more startling than I have ever heard before. And I mastered the recording!

I have heard Wilson Sashas in a number of systems, and yes, they are "fast," in that the bass doesn't boom or blur. Yes, the Nordost Odin is extraordinarily transparent cable (at a price) and that Meridian player's D/A is top-rank. And that HRS rack is a black hole for vibrations. But driven by the Dan D'Agostino amps—wow, did the Sashas kick some awesome booty! Without ever sounding crass or lacking in subtlety.