Nagra HD Preamp, Organic Reference Cables, Kharma Elegance S7 Loudspeakers

What a difference a change of venue and cabling makes. In the Nagra room at CES, the sound was silvery, glistening, open, and mesmerizing. Here, with smaller Kharma Elegance S7 loudspeakers ($18,000) and mid-priced copper-based Organic Reference cabling that uses a fiber dielectric, the sound was more toned down but no less compelling.

Listening solely to LP, we began with Reference Recordings' issue of the Chicago Pro Musica performing Stravinsky's L'Histoire du Soldat. Contrasting colors were satisfying, and the soundstaging impressive indeed. I loved the beautiful pastels in the woodwinds, the convincing ring of the triangle, and the inherent balance of the presentation. Soundstaging was equally impressive on a cut by Muddy Waters and a brief listen to Stravinsky's Firebird. Depth was superb. The electronics to thank were from Nagra: the HD preamp ($65,950), Tube DAC w/Classic PSU ($39,500) VPS phono preamplifier ($8750), two Classic Amps ($31,995 total), unheard Seven Recorder ($5500), and a NFS IV-S/QGB open reel. Damn, I wish I'd had more time so I could have listened to some tape.