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So far Art Dudley has created 320 blog entries.

Wells Audio Innamorata II Level II Amplifier and Commander Level III Line Stage, Usher Mini Two Loudspeakers, and Verastarr Cabling

By | June 12th, 2019|Categories: Stereophile|

Dragon, Commander, Innamorata . . . did you ever get the feeling that Jeff Wells wants you to know that Wells Audio means business?

Not that you needed to heed the names: The sound was sufficient to let show attendees know that, as with the Esoteric/Von Schweikert system I had just heard, this system excelled in healthy, alive sound that included a fine midrange and a lively shine to the sound. I really enjoyed the sound on a track from JT Coldfire, and sat amazed that an exhibitor not only loved but also chose to play, of his own volition, Luciano Pavarotti’s “Una furtiva lagrima.”

Yes, the tweeters on the Usher Mini Two loudspeakers ($5200/pair)—speakers that were called into play at the 11th hour after the tweeters on Jeff’s own TAD Evolution I floorstanders met an untimely demise—were a bit hot, but on Stanley Turrentine’s “Blue Hour,” they still managed to demonstrate how well Wells gear can deliver a fine midrange and solid bass.… Read the full article

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Bowers & Wilkins 800D3 Speakers and DB1 Subwoofers, McIntosh C1100 Preamp, Aurender A30 Server, Solid Tech Racks, Synergistic Research AC Conditioner

By | June 9th, 2019|Categories: Stereophile|

When I entered my penultimate Scott Walker Audio room, Kevin Wolff of Bowers & Wilkins was playing outtakes from a 1989 recording by Branford Marsalis. The sound of Marsalis’s sax was so distinctive and, to my ears, beautiful that I began to smile. (Trumpet was another instrument whose sound this system conveyed with perfection.) As Kevin segued into a 16/44.1 file of Thomas Dolby’s “I Scare Myself,” I scribbled in my notebook, “This is a system that reminds you of what the high end is all about.”

Despite some booming, the McIntosh midrange came through in spades.… Read the full article

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Gryphon Pandora Preamplifier, Magico S5 MkII Speakers, Sonorus Reel-to-Reel Deck, Acoustic Signature Storm Turntable, Synergistic Research cables, Artesiana Racks

By | June 9th, 2019|Categories: Stereophile|

Oh boy, was soundstaging excitingly three-dimensional in the Scott Walker room that headlined Gryphon electronics. Listening to 15ips tapes played on a Sonorus reel-to-reel deck ($19,500) by Philip O’Hanlon, of Gryphon distributor On a Higher Note, the extraordinary depth on Sarah Vaughan’s “When Your Lover Has Gone” certainly seized my attention.

Switching to LP, and trying not to raise my eyebrows too high on Duke Ellington and Frank Sinatra’s dated “All I Need is the Girl,” I thought brass and mids were conveyed to near-perfection.… Read the full article

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VAC Master Signature Preamp, Magico M2 Speakers, MSB Premiere DAC, Synergistic Research Cables, Power Tech Stand

By | June 9th, 2019|Categories: Stereophile|

Tonal beauty, clarity, and transparency were just some of the hallmarks of a system that, to my ears, was musical to a “T.” (Should that be “M”?) I loved the warm yet neutral sound of a recording by Ana Caram—I detected no extra “tube-like” sweetness, for example—and the system’s ability to present music with a quality I can best describe as “grace”: not scientific, I know, but when the spirit moves you, the least you can do is acknowledge it.

On a 15ips tape of violinist Anne-Sophie Mutter performing the well-worn Carmen Fantasy, I heard the most beautiful midrange of the five systems I’d encountered thus far.… Read the full article

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Magico A3 Speakers, Constellation Argo Amp, MSB Discrete DAC, Aurender ACS10 Server, Synergistic Research Accessories

By | June 9th, 2019|Categories: Stereophile|

In the second Scott Walker Audio room I visited—since I visited five of them, I know it’s going to start sounding like “Five power cables, four balanced interconnects, three phono cartridges, two mighty monoblocks, and a speaker shaped like a pear tree,” but it really did sound like Christmas in most of these rooms—the Constellation Argo integrated amp ($29,000), Magico A3 Speakers ($12,300/pair), and MSB Discrete DAC ($12,500) vied for pride of place with an Aurender ACS10 server ($6000) and Synergistic Research PowerCell 12 UEF SE Power Conditioner ($6,495), Atmosphere cabling ($18,500), and various room acoustics products ($3,500), plus a Solid Tech Rack ($2,600).

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Synergistic Research PowerCell AC Conditioner, McIntosh MC462 Amp, Elac Adante Speakers, Bluesound Streamer

By | June 9th, 2019|Categories: Stereophile|

Scott Walker Audio staked out its own mini-empire at the Hilton Long Beach, occupying six of the hotel’s largest suites on the second floor. The first one I encountered revealed the inimitable Ted Denney of Synergistic Research staging a pretty ballsy demo. Ted set up two identical systems in adjacent rooms, both with a McIntosh C2600 tube preamp ($7500) and MC462 Amplifier ($9000), Elac Adante AF61 floorstanding speakers ($4995/pair), Bluesound Node 2i streamer ($500), and Solid Tech Rack ($2600). The difference was that one system took advantage of a Synergistic Research PowerCell 8 UEF SE power conditioner ($2995), new Synergistic Research entry-level Foundation interconnect and speaker cables plus UEF Blue power cords ($4000), and a host of various Synergistic Research room acoustic products ($6500), which in my experience are quite effective if nonetheless baffling to many.… Read the full article

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ATC CD2 CD player and SIA2-100 integrated amp/DAC

By | June 8th, 2019|Categories: Stereophile|

Small does not mean negligible. Especially when a system includes the first West Coast showing of ATC’s new CD2 CD player ($2349) and SIA2-100 integrated amp/DAC ($3749). With the integrated performing the DAC honors—thank you, Rafe Arnott, for asking that question—and ATC entry-series SCM7 speakers ($1649/pair, reviewed in Stereophilehere) transmitting the sound, this little system delivered bossa nova great Rosa Passos and bassist Ron Carter’s “Insensatez” with great beauty, a fine midrange, and, most surprising of all, bass solid down to Carter’s lowest note.… Read the full article

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ATC SCM50SE Active Tower Loudspeakers and CDA2 MkII CD player/preamp/DAC, Cardas Crosslink Cables

By | June 8th, 2019|Categories: Stereophile|

As one of the only companies to send out a press release prior to the opening of T.H.E. Show, ATC—along with its host, Lone Mountain Audio—earned pride of place in my “I can’t possibly do them all” list of show coverage priorities. In a cozy but surprisingly good sounding standard hotel room, I joined Rafe Arnott from our sister publications AudioStream and InnerFidelity to hear ATC SCM50SE Active Towers ($65,999/pair) fed by the same company’s CDA2 MkII CD player/preamp/DAC ($4249) through Cardas Crosslink cabling.… Read the full article

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T.H.E. Show Preparations at the Hilton Long Beach

By | June 7th, 2019|Categories: Stereophile|

It’s Thursday afternoon at the Hilton Long Beach in Long Beach, California, and signs of T.H.E. Show, which opens on Friday, June 7, at noon, are everywhere in evidence.

Prior to the official opening, I wandered into a couple of rooms, including the one sponsored by Audiogen Distributors, above. There I found intriguing speakers from the Greek company Tune, electronics from Japan’s WAVAC—and a few items that will surely have disappeared by the time the room opens for business. In another room, sponsored by Alaia Audio, speaker designer Richard Vandersteen listened intently as Brad O’Toole carefully tugged his speakers to various locations.… Read the full article

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Zellaton Reference MkII Speakers, YS Sound Electronics, Reed Turntable, Top Wing Cartridge, Schnerzinger Cabling

By | May 13th, 2019|Categories: Stereophile|

Excellent bass, a somewhat toned-down presentation and somewhat dry midrange, and excellent imaging—the speakers completely disappeared—were the hallmarks of Zellaton Reference Mk II Loudspeakers (2018) (€147,950/pair). As with all our show reports, how much of what I heard was due to electronics previously unknown to me, and whose sound I cannot begin to describe until I hear them in a familiar context, I cannot ascertain.

The 2018 model of Zellaton’s Reference loudspeakers contain Duelund Cast capacitors and inductors with a paper-based dielectric along with Duelund wiring.… Read the full article

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