Artful Artemis and Mozartian Verity

Fortune found in the fortune cookie that accompanied my evening meal of Chinese take-out: "When in doubt, let your instincts guide you."

To the extent those words have to do with this blog, besides proof that I'm sufficiently punch drunk from three days of non-stop system hopping to quote such a foolproof source in such an impossibly run-on sentence, they must refer to what both John Atwood, designer of Artemis Labs electronics, and the designer of the Verity Sarastro loudspeakers took to heart as they developed their respective products. The combination of the Artemis Labs SP-1 power amplifier (14W, single-ended class-A, $12,000/pair with separate power supplies), LA-1 line preamp ($3000), PL-1 phono preamp ($3520 with 65dB gain) with the Rega Jupiter CD player and oft-praised Verity Sarastro loudspeaker (93dB efficiency for $38,495/pair, which to many is not an efficient use of finances) produced some of the most engaging sound I encountered at RMAF.

I was struck by the beautiful warmth that enhanced Holly Near's joyful singing on "Dancing with the Family Band," the first track on her latest CD, Show Up. The midrange was lovely and smooth, the highs open and naturally lit. The Channel Classics hybrid SACD of the Ebony Wind Band of Amsterdam playing the music of Silvestre Revueltas was reproduced with stunning depth. Again, the midrange was impeccably smooth, the overall presentation irresistibly warm.

"A definite winner," I wrote in my notes. The three-dimensional soundstage, in fact, was fabulous, as was the tight bass. Perhaps the midrange was a bit too smooth and over-polite on a Neville Marriner LP of the Overture to Rossini's Semiramide, but that might have been due to the cartridge or turntable or recording or some combination thereof. I wish I had had time to listen more. Instead, I snapped company director Sean Ta's photo, and asked the Chief of Chinese Fortunes to grant my wish for renewed acquaintance with both electronics and speakers.

To whomever in BAAS directed me to this room, my gratitude.