René Laflamme, Nagra’s Sales and Marketing Manager, had one of the best-sounding exhibits I attended. His suite featured twin Nagra HD monoblock amplifiers ($100,000/pair), each rated at 1000W into 4 ohms and driving a Wilson Audio Alexx loudspeaker. Wilson Audio’s Peter McGrath—who, like Laflamme, is an accomplished recording engineer—advised me that the Nagra installation allowed the Alexxes to develop the best bass he’d heard at the show. McGrath demonstrated the system’s wide dynamic range and superb extension by playing Duruflé’s Meditation, recorded on a Mühleisen organ. The notes were clean, solid, massive, and quite musical.

During visits to the suite, I also heard Jake Shimabukuro’s ukulele playing, which was outstanding, and then a recording of his performance played back over the Nagra HD monoblocks. While the playback was different than the live music, the Nagra-Wilson combination captured the timbre and tonalities of Jake playing his transcription of the Beatles’ “Eleanor Rigby,” as shown in this photograph taken by Peter McGrath (using a Leica M monochrome camera).