Lithe, Alluring: Playback Designs, Evolution Acoustics, darTZeel, Wave Kinetics, Channel D

At a hi-fi show, the halls, stairwells, and elevators talk. If you listen closely, they’ll tell you where the show’s best sound can be found. On the show’s first day, I kept hearing whispers about Jonathan Tinn’s Blue Light Audio room.

Inside, I was greeted by Channel D’s smiling Rob Robinson, manning the controls of a Pure Music/Pure Vinyl-equipped Mac, sending high-resolution music files to a Playback Designs MPS-3 CD player ($8500) via USB. The sleek MPS-3 handles up to 384kHZ PCM and 6.1MHz DSD.

The small, attractive speakers were Evolution Acoustics’ MMMicroOne ($2500/pair, with matching stands) and they were (mmm) good, throwing an impressive large soundstage with well-focused images. All cables and conditioning also came from Evolution Acoustics: DRSC top-of-the-line speaker cables ($6000/pair), The Link 50 ohm BNC-BNC interconnect ($6000), TRPC top-of-the-line power cord ($3500), and PC2One power cord ($2500). The beautiful integrated amplifier was darTZeel’s CTH-8550 with MC phono stage ($20,300). The components rested on Wave Kinetics’ A10-U8 control system ($700/set of 4) and the speakers utilized that company’s 2NS loudspeaker interface system ($1600/set of 4).

(Though vinyl was spinning in this room, it was only spinning via Rob Robinson’s computer screen through his clever Pure Vinyl software).

This system matched detail with body, exhibited rich tonal colors and a great sense of rhythmic ease, and added lifelike scale: Music sounded big when it was supposed to, small when it was supposed to, and was always compelling and seductive.

“Black Magic Woman” sounded like black magic. (That’s good.) Later, with Chris Isaac whispering something about desire, an attractive woman walked in, arched her long, slender back, shook her short, blond hair, and sat down in the sweet spot. The music sounded like her: Lithe, alluring. (Also good.)

Stephen Scharf's picture

Once again, Jonathan Tinn puts together one of the best rooms at audio shows. His was one of the best at last year's CAS and RMAF, and again this year. 

The little MMMicroOnes were amazing and it was good to meet Rob Robinson of Channel D and listen to his amazing 384 Khz files and vinyl rips.