Sweet Music from High Water Sound

I live and work only minutes from Jeffrey Catalano’s High Water Sound, but to my shame have never visited the showroom. For no good reason, it’s only at shows like the Rocky Mountain Audio Fest that I get to speak with Jeffrey and enjoy his demo systems. But I’m extremely grateful for that because Jeffrey has outstanding taste in music—he has that great ability of connecting the dots between seemingly disparate musical genres and artists—and his perspective on hi-fi is fresh, interesting, and distinct.

On this occasion, we listened to the big and beautiful Cessaro Horn Acoustics Affascinate I SE loudspeakers ($62,000/pair), a TW-Acustic Limited/10.5 turntable ($25,000), Tron Telstar Ultimate 211 amplifier ($40,000), Tron Seven GT Line preamp ($15,000), and Thoress Phono Entzerrer ($9,000). Also playing was a Thales TTT turntable ($20,000) with AV ($13,500) and Simplicity ($10,000) tonearms. Support came from the Silent Running Audio Scuttle ($7,000) and Ohio XL ($1,680). Cartridges were the Miyajima Labs Kansui ($3,600) on the TW 10.5; Shilabe ($2,995) on the AV; and Premium Mono ($1,260) on the Simplicity. Finally, everything was connected with Prana Wire.

This is an expensive system, but one easily capable of transporting the listener to special times and places. The sound was sweet, detailed, and well-balanced, with no one particular aspect of the music overpowering any other. Mono recordings were presented with great scale and physicality. As usual, Jeffrey Catalano brought a ton of great LPs. New for this year were the pumpkins—a nice touch.

andy_c's picture

Do the horns twitch like the old cartoons from the '60s? Do they make all vocalists sound like the "Winchester Cathedral" guy?

Just checking. I expect the kneepads to be donned for such events, so I'm not surprised. It seems Stephen "I don't know Jack Shit about audio and I'm proud of it, yet glad to subject you to my seemingly endless tales of narcissism" Mejias is the new kneepad guy. He somehow manages to surpass Jason Serinus in this regard - no easy feat!

Look people. Try to portray some semblance of giving a flying fuck about audio, and not just some disgusting display of wretched excess for its own sake.

dpatrick's picture


To me, “giving a fuck about audio” means, at minimum, actively seeking out and listening to ambitious audio installations (meaning high-sensitivity, full- or nearly-full-range systems driven by high quality SET amps) and establishing references. What it doesn't mean is staying home, refusing to listen, and angrily regurgitating tired, ill-founded prejudices whenever you feel threatened by what you read about on the Internet.

I personally thought that the Cessaro/Tron/TW room at RMAF was the only room at the show that really “said” something about audio – about what the possibilities are and about what we are really dealing with and why. To do so takes a lot of intelligence and a lot of guts, and it was a very strong and clear statement. There was a palpable sense in the room that nearly everyone was privately reassessing his own reference points and “dreams” with regard to sound as he was taking it all in. I know from talking to others at the show that many dreams were born in that room, and many listeners were simply humbled to learn for the first time that such a grandiose, cinematic presentation of music was even possible. The Cessaros also seem to have the makings of a gateway drug…if this pair so "easily" blows the doors off of your preconceptions about audio, it will also redefine how you are going to think about audio systems from now on and what you will be "looking for" next. I for one am eager to hear the even larger (ok, huge) Cessaros using a front horn on the midbass driver as well with a separate deep-bass section...


Doualezos55's picture

I was in the room today and I agree with Stephen's comments. The sound was good and Califano had an extensive collection of records.

JasonVSerinus's picture

Without wishing in the least to sound narcissistic, I feel honored to be mentioned in the same sentence with Stephen Mejias.

Soothsayerman's picture

I've seen it before.  Some people have a violent reaction to horns.  Brings out the native.  Good thing he wasn't at the show, it could have been a recipe for disaster.

ORWineMusic's picture

RMAF 2011 was my first visit to the show.  My wife and I were ovewhelmed with the number of rooms to visit and many paths available to creating a moving musical expreience.  Many rooms that I wanted to listen to, with gear I always wanted to hear; I was surprised that I found myself not as impressed as I was expecting.  I often felt, "I listened enough, it's time to move on."  This was not the case in the High Water Sound Room.  The people, the vinyl, the music and the vibe just made we want to stay, listen and enjoy!  This feeling of musical enjoyment and wanting to hear something else is my new benchmark Audophile Show evaluation.   I made sure to visit this room again just before we left the show. Jeff's room was a highlight of our Audiophile Weekend in Denver!

DetroitVinylRob's picture

Call me crazy but, 

I have said it before and I'll say it again (with no knee pads involved) that Jeffrey Catalano and his High Water Audio is a true gem in our audio community. Analogue, tubes, high efficiency speakers, and a guy who understands music (as a musician, listener, collector), understands the audio business, takes care to his many customers, and has an amazing record collection which he never fails to share and surprise folks with. When you enter Jeffery's room at an audiophile trade show it is like being invited to a friend's living room for some intense enjoyment in a casual setting, yet astounding in its lovely rendering of timbre and coloured tone, beautiful, life like music.

What more would anyone ask for???

In my humble opinion if two channel Hifi is to survive and the pleasures and benefits of this pass time are to be handed down to the next generation we need more dealers such as Jeffery. I personally realize high end audio may, like many things, appear frivolous and expensive to some (maybe many), but when you have experience living with the profound joy and benefits that are gleaned and view Hifi as a long term investment it becomes far more tangible and obtainable and maybe, just maybe, more reasonable. 

Life without art is stupid.

On the subject of some audio journalists, I choose to keep my rage and disgust at this time to myself. 

Happy Listening!