Vienna Acoustics & Primare from Vana Ltd.

Warned that the speakers and phono cartridge were not fully broken in, I entered Vana Ltd’s Room 9025 to discover Vienna Acoustics Beethoven Baby Grand SE loudspeakers ($5500/pair) paired with the debut of the Dr. Feickert Analogue Woodpecker turntable with 12 Jelco and Acoustical Systems Arché headshell ($8000) and equipped with an Ortofon Windfeld phono cartridge ($3900). Also in the system were Primare’s CD 32 CD player ($2800), I32 with MM30 media upgrade integrated amplifier ($4500), and R32 phono amp ($1200); IsoTek’s EVO3 Aquarius Mains conditioner ($2000), EVO3 Syncro active DC blocking cable ($1750), and EVO3 premier power cables ($195/each). Analysis Plus analog cables completed a system whose bass was not under control, and whose midrange was somewhat muffled, but whose highs, on an LP test pressing of Mahler’s Symphony 3, were quite wonderful.

Everything was broken in in Room 9023, but the set-up was different and more expensive. Here, Vienna Acoustics The Kiss loudspeakers ($18,000/pair) made music with Boulder Amplifiers’ CD1021 Network CD player ($25,000), 1010 preamp ($15,000), 1050 monoblock amplifiers ($46,000/pair), and 2008 phono amp ($38,000). Dr. Feickert supplied another debut table, the Firebird in rosewood ($14,000), outfitted with an Acoustical Systems Axiom tonearm ($22,500) and Sumiko Palo Santos cartridge ($4000). From Isotek came the GII Titan power conditioner for amplifiers ($4500) and GII Nova power conditioner for sources and preamp ($5000), as well EVO Elite power cables ($595/each). Analysis Plus again supplied the analog cables. Once again the midrange was muffled on multiple sources, and bass not fully controlled on Shelby Lynne’s “The Look of Love.” Could this have been a room acoustic problem?