Linear Tube Audio, DeVore Fidelity, Spatial Audio, LampizatOr, HoloAudio/KitsunéHiFi, Cardas, Anticables

A consistent player both at shows and in the hi-fi world, Linear Tube Audio's Nicholas Tolson brought smart, sparse rigs to two AXPONA rooms that played great music.

One rig (Room 606) consisted of a Linear Tube Audio MicroZOTL preamplifier (Level 2) ($5750) and ZOTL Ultralinear+ power amplifier ($6800), a LampizaOr Baltic 3 DAC ($6600), and DeVore Fidelity Super Nine loudspeakers ($9990/pair), with cabling by Cardas. Tolson streamed tracks from Roon on an Intel NUC via a Sonore UltraRendu.

As a former owner of The Nines, this system hit all my pleasure points. I was never an Eva Cassidy fan, but on the LTA setup, I absolutely fell in love, her penetrating voice filling the room. Music through the LTA assemblage had excellent depth and decay. It sent shivers.

The second rig (Room 696) was similar to the first, with Spatial Audio X4 Premium open-baffle loudspeakers ($7500/pair) replacing the DeVore Fidelity Nines. It also included a Linear Tube Audio Z40+ integrated amplifier and ZOTL Ultralinear+ integrated amplifier ($7650), a HoloAudio/KitsunéHiFi May DAC (KTE) ($5598), and Anticables interconnects, speaker cables, and power cords.

Tolson reminded me that I'd lost my giblets over the exact same track from the Reference Recordings Tutti! Orchestral Sampler CD at the last Capitol Audio Fest, a dynamic piece imbued with low-end weight, startling dynamics, sonic density, and most importantly, movement and flow. In an immense soundstage.

Billie Eilish's "Ocean Eyes" was as clean as a freshly scrubbed hotel window, her intimate vocal revealed within deep instrumental layering, the entire presentation sounding natural and compelling. John Coltrane's rendition of Cole Porter's "I Love You," from Lush Life, was portrayed beautifully through the LTA setup, which seemed to reveal and revel in the music's inner life—all swing and heat and realistic dynamics.

The LTA rig encouraged listening to music as an important ritual that music lovers share. I didn't want to leave.