Lighting Strikes Audio Electronics by Cary

In a room shared with Audiogon, Cary Audio constructed a system of lower cost Audio Electronics brand equipment designed and hand built in Apex, North Carolina. With circuit designs less complex than those in traditional Cary Audio components, the line's four components utilize no global feedback, and their audio stages are predominantly class-A designs.

New to the line is the Lightning USB 24/192 DAC ($1295). Utilizing asynchronous USB technology from Gordon Rankin of Wavelength, the Lightning is set to strike the market around April 1.

Completing the listening chain were the Constellation preamp ($1495), Hercules Amp ($1895), KEF Q700 loudspeakers ($1500), and MIT cabling. (The only Audio Electronics component not auditioned was the $1195 Nighthawk headphone amplifier.) Unfortunately, it was very difficult to focus on music in the noisy room. Of what I could hear of inescapable Diana Krall's "There You Go" (or something to the effect), I was impressed by the system's ability to create an impressive soundstage and project sound out from the speakers and into the room, but found the piano's sound too tinkly.