The Nation Imports Room

(All prices are in Canadian dollars unless otherwise specified.)

I was surprised by the sound quality I heard in the Nation Imports room. Here was a relatively compact system that cost quite a bit less than most systems I heard at the show—yet not only did it hold its own against more expensive fare, in some areas, such as imaging, definition, and the portrayal of female vocals, it beat it. I'd even say that this system's overall presentation was better balanced than most; it sounded well put together and glitch-free. The sound had a nice sense of touch, it wasn't harsh, and it was fun—and I don't mean fun in that slightly pejorative way that implies a lack of sophistication. No, this system sounded sophisticated, but it also had oodles of toe-tapping momentum.

No surprise, then, that the system is composed entirely of British components, including products from Cyrus Audio's XR series: a Cyrus CDt-XR transport ($4000)—although when I was there, the music was being streamed by an Innuos ZEN Mk3 server with 1TB internal memory ($3749)—a Cyrus Pre-XR preamp ($5999), and, from the Classic series, the 203Wpc, class-D 200 power amp ($3499). This system was paired with a pair of Acoustic Energy AE520 speakers ($6999/pair) whose frequency range is specified as 30Hz–28kHz. Connections were established with a smorgasbord of digital, interconnect and speaker cables by Nanotec, Black Rhodium, and Titan Audio.