The StereoTimes Most Wanted Components - 2001
Commentary - Most Wanted Publisherís Choice
Clement Perry
1 July 2000

Well, here we are with Most Wanted Component listing at the beginning of our third year of publication. It hasnít been an easy road but it has been an exciting one and, most of the time, fun. Our writers here have proven themselves repeatedly to possess the competence and dedication that has made The Stereo Times an Internet success. For this, I am forever grateful. I must also thank the many manufacturers that have loaned us equipment. Without them, none of this would have been possible. Without their collective creative genius, none of this would have been worth the effort.

My list of Most Wanted Components details the very best to have graced my listening room to date. Many components have passed through this space, not all of them to my taste. There will be others, of this Iím certain. Right now, however, I believe that what Iíve achieved after long hours of tweaking has taken the system to that place we all aspire to. Synergy is the key. I am happy to report that all of these components performed flawlessly in many different configurations. Happy reading.

[Publisherís note: Bel Canto, Ortho Spectrum, and Zanden Audio were not in attendance at HE2001, nor anyone from their respective companies, therefore no photos were taken.]

Publisherís Choice.

Talon Khorus Loudspeaker: $14,000 (Reviewed 10/4/00 and 2/5/01) as musical a transducer as Iíve heard at any price. The Khoruses ability to present a seamless musical portrait is unmatched, as is its bass tautness and speed. Read my and Stuís review.

Sawada Audio Tutankhman Loudspeaker $85,000  At a whopping $85,000 dollars, Sawada Audioís all-Lowther Tutankhman loudspeakers from Japan are, I hate to admit, possibly the best Iíve heard from the all-important midrange up Ė an openness and purity that makes the Khoruses and everything else sound relatively constipated. The Tutís ability to immerse one in the music is unmatched; its tonal subtlety, unparalleled. Bass reproduction is all right but not on par with the Talonís, which make this a very tough decision at $85K. However, if youíre willing to overlook the less than stellar low end, strapped to the Zanden 300B amplifier, the Tut can produce an oh my! sound.

Musse Audio Reference 1 Loudspeaker. This floorstander, built in Singapore and equipped with an outboard crossover, allows this listener to kick back, relax and enjoy. Incredibly open and inviting. Tells a story with each disc without adding any signature of its own. High marks to its designerís having nailed each recordingís space. A gem.

Publisherís Choice.

The $4,900 Preamplifier Tact 2.2 Room corrector/Preamplifier is still the best kept secret in two-channel audio. The Tact 2.2 has been a wake-up call for me and all whoíve appreciated its capabilities. A literal digital Ginsu knife, it cuts out unwanted room resonances through sophisticated filters/algorithms, with 24/96 handling capabilities.

Publisherís Choice.

The Bel Canto 2002 Evo amplifier $2,395 (Reviewed 10/23/00) as a mono pair represents possibly the best sounding and affordable amplifier on the planet. It seems to morph sonically into that extra something, leaving costlier devices in its wake.

Publisher's Choice 2001! Tube Amplifier  The Zanden Audio Model 7000. Priced at $15,000 its not cheap but boy oh boy does it sound delightful. The best I've heard in tube amplification. This 13 watt Single Ended stereo amplifier uses the Western Electric 300B tube and its creator, Kazutoshi Yamada, is considered a legend in Japan. The Model 7000's the most musical sounding on the Tutankhman's, though the new Talon Khorus X, without the very high sensitivity, adores it as well. Distributor is Jay Bertrand. Email prbertrand@mediaone.net.

The Sony SCD-1 $3,500 (Reviewed 11/9/99) is a staggering performer in SACD playback. Iíve not heard all the other machines, but with the Sony and good common sense, Iíve no desire to. It does everything I want. The software is an entirely different story, and it ainít good. I pray that, as when CD was first released, demand will create a better and broader selection of titles. No John Coltrane on SACD? Tsk, tsk.

Publisherís Choice.

Perpetual Technology P3A/P1A with the Modwright Configuration. Total price $2,656 (Reviewed 4/2/01). An incredible device in its own right, the Modwright-ed Perpetual Technology P3A/P1A combo achieves even greater heights, thanks to the good offices of Dan Wright. The improvement are not slight. They take these modestly priced combo kings to a level unavailable in this price range. A better and smarter choice then the present SACD. Imagine, you buy this and all your CDís benefit. Not as analogue sounding as SACD, particularly the Sony SCD-1, but so sonically close in every other area, I sometimes canít tell which is playing. Itís simply that good sounding. A no brainer.

Tweaks

Publisherís Choice.

The Ortho Spectrum AR2000 $1,250 (Reviewed 9/19/00), the little wonder that boggles the mind! See reviews.

I have no other choice, having lived with the Sistrum SP-1 Platforms and SP-6 Equipment Rack (Reviewed 3/28/01) What the SP-1does for the Talon Khorus is exceptional; the SP-6 likewise under my electronics. Together, what they accomplish is even more remarkable. See review for prices.

Publisherís Choice.

(Reviewed 9/18/00) Acoustic Zen cables $898 per meter. See reviews.

Wasatch Cable Works reference Speaker Cable (Reviewed 1/11/01) A well-balanced and transparent design as good as any Iíve reviewed, yet differs from Acoustic Zen mostly in size perspective and depth of stage. The Wasatch is a middle seat at Carnegie Hall; Acoustic Zen, more like a evening at the UP & Over Jazz Club in Brooklynís Park Slope: slick, easy and intimate with razor-like resolution, but without the edge. See review for prices.

Analysis Plus Silver Oval (Reviewed 5/8/00) is still the cable to beat for the price. See review for prices.

NBS Monitor 1 Cables. Crazy expensive. Whatís crazier is that itís almost justified by an incredibly delicate touch, especially in the upper registers, while providing oodles of bass slam.

Ortho Spectrum Bel Canto Interconnects $700 per meter No, this ainít no typo. Thatís right, from the same folks (Infra Noise Labs), who brought us the AR-2000 Analogue Reconstructor. This new, shoe-string-soft interconnect sets a new benchmark in terms of transparency and detail. Stay tuned for review.