The Big Boys

Audio Federation doesn't play around. Its top-of-the-line, no-holds-barred system centers around the Marten Coltrane Supreme loudspeaker ($250,000/pair), Audio Note UK Ongaku amplifier ($85,000), EMM Labs/Meitner Design CDSD SE transport ($8400) and DCC2 SE DAC ($13,500), Brinkmann Balance turntable ($29,900), Lamm LP2 Deluxe phono preamp ($6990), and, for this system, modestly priced Lyra Titan cartridge ($5000). Cabling is no less than Nordost Valhalla, Stealth Indra, Jorma Design No.1 and PRIME, while power cords and distributors include Nordost Valhalla, Elrod Statement II and Signature III, and Acrolink Mexcel 7N-7100.

I went wild over this system at last year's RMAF. Its greatness, besides its wonderful full-range sound, is its ease and naturalness, and complete absence of a phony, bloated midrange. Last year, I heard a major difference when cables were swapped while I was in the room. This year, a slight attenuation of high frequency overtones suggested that a little more cable swapping or room setup adjustment was still to come. Regardless, few systems at the Audio Fest could begin to approach this level of high-end accuracy.