Vandersteen + AudioQuest + AMG + Lyra + Audio Research + Aurender = Music

In the quiet inner sanctum of Ultra Fidelis’ two-room suite with Vandersteen, AudioQuest, AMG, Audio Research and more, I sat enthralled before one of the most musical systems I encountered at AXPONA.

I gave little thought to the sweet spot or other audiophile considerations. The music, on LP, of Seiji Ozawa and the Boston Symphony Orchestra’s DG recording of Bartók’s Music for Strings, Percussion, and Celeste was mesmerizing—the colors so rich and saturated, the flow so liquid and transparent, the strings so smooth, the presentation so open and balanced (after the volume was raised a notch at my request), and the classic Vandersteen midrange so satisfying that all I wanted to do was sit in awe, listen, and enjoy.

Copious thanks to the DJ, Jonathan Spelt of Ultra Fidelis, and to Brad O’Toole for clarifying which Bartók LP was playing.

When I finally managed to pull myself back together enough to face the world, I walked outside to chat with Richard Vandersteen and AudioQuest’s Garth Powell. That’s when I learned that I had been listening to Vandersteen Kento Carbon loudspeakers ($44,500/pair) with Vandersteen M5HPA High Pass amplifiers ($19,990/pair), Vandersteen L5-ACC Audio Control Center linestage preamp ($15,000), and Audio Research Reference Phono 3SE ($24,000), all fed by an AMG Viella Forte turntable ($25,000) with AMG 12J Turbo arm ($9000) and Lyra Atlas Lambda cartridge ($13,195). (I did not hear the Aurender N30SA streamer ($25,000), Aurender MC10 clock ($16,000), and Audio Research DAC9 $12,500)).

More models of AudioQuest cabling than you might imagine graced this system—only one power cable, on the phono preamp, was top-line Dragon—along with AudioQuest Niagara 7000 and 5000 power conditioners. HRS supplied the equipment stands, isolation bases, and isolation feet. The synergistic blend of all was truly a wonder to experience.

Alas, Vandersteen amplifiers are not designed to mate with my reference Wilson Alexia Vs. And because I can’t review large speakers in the music room due to a lack of space to move speakers around, this is as much of a Vandersteen review you’re going to read from me for a long, long time. But at least you can be certain that I benefit from AudioQuest products every time I listen to music at home.

Anton's picture

You certainly conveyed the pleasantness of the experience!

For past shows, you often mentioned the "grayness" of the sound in many/most, suspecting power supply. Did they seem to overcome that, in your mind, in general this year? Did it raise it's spiritless passionless head at this show?

I always wonder how pervasive pernicious problems like that end up being ameliorated.

Jason Victor Serinus's picture

... for me at AXPONA was not grayness; it was a hard, bright edge on top. It was so pervasive that I didn't bother to single any system out. Rather, when I didn't hear an edge, I praised the top end and/or the system as a whole. Which is most definitely the case here. It sounded wonderful - a joy to listen to.

Glotz's picture

of the Vandersteen L5-ACC Audio Control Center linestage preamp ($15,000). Loved my demo the week prior and I let Richard know! Lol.

That AMG table is to die for! (As well as the HRS platform.) Sigh.

Great show and great choices on great sound, Jason.

And this was one "Not Grey" system, Anton. Lol.

Aleph5's picture

I'm surprised you didn't comment on the lack of (apparent) acoustical treatment in this room, while the sound was still this good. As I left this room, I asked Richard Vandersteen if he intended to do that to show how well the speakers worked without room treatments. He indicated yes, that his products employ his own built-in EQ, and that you can't "fix a room" anyway in the short day they had to set up. I thought it was one of the better sounding demos I heard at AXPONA.