Kyomi Audio, Ideon, Audio Skies, JMF, Stealth, Vivid, and Finite Elemente

I wasn't the only reviewer who sought Nirvana in the large 16th floor Aster Presidential Suite jointly sponsored by retailer Kyomi Audio of Chicago, Audio Skies distribution, and Stealth Audio Cables. On Sunday morning, less than eight hours after many members of the press hung out in the room until 2AM, several returned for yet another fix.

Just days after I'd visited Oakland and spoken by phone with violinist David Abel and pianist Julie Steinberg, high-resolution files of Dave Wilson's fabled analog recording of the duo performing Brahms Sonata No. 1 sang in this room. The sound was lovely and natural, the images a mite small until the volume was raised and the duo's modern piano restored to correct perspective. Once the correct level was reached, all I could do was marvel at how right and musical everything sounded. I kept trying to focus on individual details, but the sheer beauty of music and sound triumphed over critical mind. At least temporarily.

The last track of Grammy feted 2L engineer Morten Lindberg's Himmelborgen performed by the Uranienborg Vokalensemble and organist Kåre Nordstoga, sounded absolutely true. The sound was natural and warm, with correct timbres and no edge or glare. If I must be real picky, I could have done with a bit more transparency and bigger images. But in the context of an audio show, this was world-class sound. When, on a Ray Brown recording of "You Look Good to Me," a chime of some sort resonated from the right channel, it struck me as one of the most perfect reproductions of that sound I've ever experienced.

There were four stars of the show:

1. Vivid Audio Giya G1S loudspeakers ($86,000/pair in special red finish);
2. JMF Audio of France's HQS 6002 dual-mono power amplifier with JMF OC3 power cable ($39,000), mated with JMF's PRS 1.5 dual-mono preamplifier with stepped potentiometer ($34,000) and PCD 102 power line filter with the company's PC3 power cable ($16,000);
3. Ideon Audio's Absolute Epsilon DAC ($47,000) hanging with their Absolute Stream ($19,900) and Absolute Time ($9900);
4. and a host of Stealth Audio cables.

Handsome Finite Elemente racks and Cerabase Classic equipment supports silently kept everything afloat. (I did not hear the room's smaller system, which replaces JMF Audio equipment with a 60Wpc, class-A, tube Jadis DA882 integrated amplifier ($17,700).

A representative from JMF Audio explained that the company's amplifiers, whose boards are hand-assembled, have been used by recording studios since 1978. Jean-Marie Fusilier, who founded the company in 1964, came from a family of musicians. JMF amps are used in one of Nashville's most famed studios; the larger versions are used by 2L in Norway.

You have not heard the last about these components in the pages of Stereophile.