Quintessence Audio Proclaims Connection: Sonus Faber, Boulder, Clearaudio, dCS, Transparent, and Critical Mass Systems

Nothing beats starting a show on a high note. Thanks to Musical Surroundings' Garth Leerer and the Quintessence Audio dealership of Chicago, that's what happened when Charlie Byrd played magnificently on a white vinyl direct-to-disc platter from the late 1970s.

The absolute clarity and timbral truth of drums, as well as the air around them, presented ample testimony to the success of the DS Audio Grand Master Optical set ($60,000), which is comprised of the Grand Master 3rd generation optical phono cartridge ($15,000, above) and two-chassis Grand Master equalizer ($45,000).

A lot more contributed to the room's success. Whether on vinyl through the new Clearaudio Reference Jubilee turntable with Universal 9" tonearm ($30,000) or files decoded by the new dCS Rossini Apex streaming DAC ($32,800-review forthcoming) and dCS Rossini clock ($10,200), the Sonus Faber Aida Mk.II speakers ($140,000/pair); Boulder's 2110 preamp ($70,000), 2108 phono preamp ($56,000), and 2160 power amp ($63,000); Transparent Opus cabling ($190,000) and Reference Power Isolator ($7290); and Critical Mass Systems Olympus racks and isolation ($150,000) performed wonderfully. Ben Harper's "I Want to Be Ready," Seodaliza's "Human," and Norah Jones' "Cold Cold Heart" all sounded supremely warm and smooth.

Thanks for the fabulous music choices, Will Kline. And kudos to all for producing great sound in a difficult-to-control acoustic.

Glotz's picture

It's been a while for any Clearaudio reviews... Anything on the horizon, such as these?

Jim Austin's picture

Jim Austin, Editor

George S's picture

I was sitting happily in this room for a bit...thought it sounded nice and of course who doesn’t get a bit of confirmation bias from well north of $500K worth of equipment!!!???

BUT: I was sitting in a rather good seat and then my neighbor moved and so I shifted over ONE seat...and the entire soundstage changed massively. I’m sorry but that space was I think pretty sufficient for the speakers, so I really was disappointed by the apparently super narrow soundstaging by the speakers. Somebody let the ball drop on that in my opinion.

Jason Victor Serinus's picture

Black draping, which is often used in these air-walled rooms to control acoustics, tends to diminish soundstage width and flatten the presentation. It may be responsible for what you heard.

Glotz's picture

There was one sweet spot, like all of the rooms. Chairs back and forward of the position were at a severe disadvantage. The room was NOT ideal and very narrow for what the implemented.

To draw conclusions about any show demo is pure folly. Don't do it. Not fair to anyone, oneself included!