SST, USSR/Volti, Maine/Nordost, Massachusetts

Sergey Sorokin, who deserves kudos as Russia’s first high-end manufacturer, arrived at the Marriott Denver Tech Center from Moscow a day before other exhibitors to ensure that his set-up was as close to ideal as the room allowed. Nonetheless, as John Atkinson and I learned upon listening, one of his Israeli-sourced, hand-wound transformers was damaged in transit, and insisted on humming/buzzing along with the music. Despite the unexpected accompaniment, the voice of Lorraine Hunt Lieberson singing Handel (Avie SACD) exhibited absolutely gorgeous tonalities. The great artist’s hushed sounds, even through the transformer noise, were something special. The period instrument orchestra’s bass foundation was also solid and superbly rendered. Only some distortion when Beverly Sills opened her voice to forte (albeit on a CD transfer of an analog recording that had its fair share of compression) suggested limitations

Sorokin’s latest venture, STT Audio, showed two products. The first, The Essence tube SE monoblock integrated amplifier ($62,000/pair), is a 40Wpc baby that can accommodate 10 different kinds of tubes. “You pick the icon of the tube and it self-adjusts,” Sorokin told us. The day before, he had paired T120s with KT88s; we heard A13s and EL34s. Note that the bottom of the amp is Titanium, and covered with indentations to allow fine placement of Nordost Corporation’s Brass Sort Kones in order to control room resonances.

Also shown was SST’s work-in-progress active crossover/preamplifier (maybe $38,000). It combines an active tube crossover with a six-input preamplifier/selector. The source was a dCS Puccini CD/SACD player—the same superb unit I have at home—used solely as a transport, and a dCS Elgar DAC. Speakers were cousins of the excellent babies that closed out my second day of blogging with such beautiful sound, the Volti Audio 99dB-sensitive Alura A 15/MT1 ($13,900/pair). These 3-ways have a 15" bass driver in a bass reflex cabinet, 2"-outlet midrange compression driver, wooden Tractrix midrange horn, 1" high-frequency compression driver, elliptical Tractrix tweeter horn, and hand-wired passive crossover networks, housed in all Baltic Birch plywood. Expect Volti Audio to distribute SST in the US before long.