An Afternoon in the Future
Commentary
Gregory Petan
14 November 2002

I've just got home from a very entertaining afternoon visit with our Editor and Chief, Clement Perry, and I feel compelled to relate to you my rather profound experience regarding what very well may be the future of high-end audio.

It had been a while since we last got together for an extended listening session, so I had not heard the last several changes Clement had made to his system. To say I was anxious to hear his rig in its latest carnation is an understatement. I was, however, anxious to spend the afternoon with one of the true gentleman in high-end audio.

Upon arrival, I toured the downstairs system consisting of a 12 watt, single-ended tube amp by Zanden Audio, fed by a JubiLaeum tubed CD player spinning classical samplers from Telarc. Needless to say, none of these components bear a name that I bet you'd recognize because I sure did not. The sound, however, coupled to yet another unfamiliar brand of mini-monitors, called Xavian, was quite impressive to say the least.

Right there, I knew we were off to a great start.

But the real deal and the impetus for this article were tucked away upstairs in Clement's main listening room. Entering the main room, one is greeted with the faint whiff of fine cigars of days gone by mixed with the unmistakable aroma of well-warmed electronics. A multitude of components rest securely on numerous component stands, namely a multitude of Sistrum equipment stands and speaker isolation platforms. The all-too-familiar Talon Khorus Xes, equipped with the latest Talon crossover upgrades are spread impossibly far apart, barely filling out my peripheral vision. A mono pair of the latest Bel Canto eVo 2 sat upon a set of Kevin Tellecamp's Silent Running Audio platforms, fit to specs no less. Between the Xes rest its sibling, the Talon Rock 2002 subwoofer. A nice comfy couch and a properly chilled Pepsi set the stage for what would mess me up for good.

After a very impressive demo of the Integra DLP projector displaying the over the top intro to "Blade 2" (this DLP's smaller than I had imagined: about the size of a 2nd Ave. Deli pastrami sandwich!), with three Talon Peregrines handling center and surround duties, we got down to some serious two-channel audiophile business. In went Greg Brown's November '62, then some Sarah Vaughn and down went my jaw. I have to be honest, in many ways, this was some of the best sound I have ever heard from a stereo system.

Now I'm not going through this exercise in the name of brown-nosing. As a matter of fact, the first time I heard Clement's system, I found it a bit too bright in balance. Having the big mouth that I do I felt compelled to tell him so. (The poor guy, I think I hurt his feelings.)

No, this is not just a system stroke; is an introduction to a component that really demands your attention. I'm talking about the new Tact 2.2X Room Correction Preamplifier.

After a quick A/B utilizing the bypass feature, track one of the Greg Brown CD was transformed from a flat, blurry, boomy mess into a totally believable musical experience. The difference in fidelity was quantifiably greater than any ten component up-grades combined. Actually, you can't achieve the results of the Tact with any component up-grade that doesn't address the one thing the Tact does: correcting the coloration of the sound introduced by the room itself!

I know what eight out of ten of you are going to say, "I have treated my room and my system doesn't sound so bad." Unfortunately it is probably two out of ten systems in which the rooms don't impact the sound to a degree that renders the signal severely compromised. Even my very large thirty-five by seventy-five foot room with a twenty-foot ceiling loft, a room effectively without side, front or ceiling reflections any were near my own Talon Xes and 2002 sub, would benefit greatly from the Tact's correction capabilities.

The good news is, to these ears, digital equalization has arrived at a point where user flexibility, sound quality and price have met happily upon the treacherous learning curve of technology. I will not elaborate further on the particulars of what I heard. I'll reserve my comments for a follow up to Clement's review of this incredible device. Additionally, I am not suggesting that the Tact in its current configuration is the perfect component. I will leave the conclusions up to Clement in what should be a very exiting commentary. I will, at the risk of beating the drum, say that thanks to the folks at Tact, the future is here, and it will never sound the same.