Raindrops on roses and whiskers on kittens
Bright copper kettles and warm woolen mittens
Brown paper packages tied up with strings
These are a few of my favorite things

 

      

     

     

     

         

One of the most pleasant surprises, sonic-wise, came from the Amphion room: components I might add, that I had no previous experience with. The Amphion Krypton 2 loudspeaker ($20k middle photo) driven by HOLFI battery powered electronics which included their Battriaa phono stage, 1.5.1 preamp and their NB 250 DC battery powered stereo amplifier. Turntable and tonearm was by Scheu Analogue of Germany ($16k and $2500 respectively) while digital was by way of Bow Technologies ($18k). The quality of this sound was sweet and organic while dynamic and incredibly quiet and devoid of typical AC noises (that of course you hear only when removed). Surprised, I asked for a more detailed description of what the components were composed of. That's when I found the HOLFI was battery powered ala the Reference Audio Mods setup I heard at the last Rocky Mountain Show (here). Needless to say, these are companies that I'll be keeping a closer eye on. Most surprising demo I heard at the show!

Cream colored ponies and crisp apple strudels
Door bells and sleigh bells and schnitzel with noodles
Wild geese that fly with the moon on their wings
These are a few of my favorite things

     

     

     

     

     

Ascendo and Convergent Audio Technologies go together like peanut butter and jelly. The synergy presented with the new Ascendo C8s ($9,500), strapped to the all-triode'd CAT JL2 stereo amplifier ($17,500 - designer Ken Stevens above) and SL preamplifier was remarkable. So much in fact, it made the entire tube versus analogue debate moot. This was about the music. Nothing more. Of course, this speaks volumes about the Ascendo C8s as well considering their terrestrial price tag. If you haven't noticed, please take a closer look at the sophisticated equipment and isolation racks from Masterclass.

Girls in white dresses with blue satin sashes
Snowflakes that stay on my nose and eyelashes
Silver white winters that melt into Springs
These are a few of my favorite things

 

     

           

     

Heard the Ascendo System M tri-amped and room corrected for the first time and they were mightily impressive. These are my former reference and the sound they produced from a trio of Behold BPA stereo amplifiers ($50k each and my current reference) was easily the best I've heard from Ascendo's top of the line model ($50k).

     

Interesting comparisons between this setup featuring the solid-state Behold Gentile integrated driving the Ascendo C8s and the Ascendo room using the same loudspeakers driven by an all-tubed CAT system. In short: the differences remain historically the same and easily apparent: Via the all-tubed CAT, the soundstage was deeper (starting further away from the loudspeakers) and also appeared more three-dimensional. Via the Behold, the bass was obviously tighter and faster with more finger-popping articulation while the overall sound was quieter with greater image specificity. So, in the end, pick your poison...we're all gonna die from something!

     

     

Of course Behold designer Ralf Ballmann (left photo above) had some new software updates for his Gentile integrated and reference (A)nalogue (P)rocessor (U)nit 768 preamplifier I use as my current reference. Tommy Moore of Laufer Teknik (formally Tact Audio) and myself attempt to comprehend what Ballmann's showing us on screen but trust me, with all the knowledge and experience at my command, and having spent many years configuring my room around Tact products, all I got out of this demo was a quick brain cramp. Tommy Moore didn't look much better either. But persevere... we must (anything to improve performance. Right?).