The StereoTimes Most Wanted Components - 2001
Greg Weaver
1 July 2001

As I look through the other contributorís choices, I was stunned to see so few analog components - which brings me to my first selection. Someone has to correct that oversight! ;-D

Oracle Delphi turntable $3,200  Having listened to vinyl since the early 60ís, I find it amazing that to this day a good analog set up still easily bests the best digital has to offer. In terms of dimensionality, musical warmth, conveyance of emotion and sheer sense of reality, the CD comes in only a close second.

The Oracle Delphi, besides being one of the most aesthetically pleasing pieces of audio equipment ever created, has an uncanny ability to release the truth from the modulated grooves that it is asked to spin. They are relatively easy to set up (by comparison to some other popular brands) and offer an enormous degree of resolve and detail. I spent the seventies following the dogma of Ivor Tiefenbraun and Linn, and the eighties and nineties listening to it. After years of loving the Delphi from afar, I bought one. Needless to say, I should have done so when I first heart the revelation they afforded. The Delphi is without doubt one of the finest values in our industry today.

Perpetual Technologies P-1A/P-3A combo $2656
Necessories - the Monolithic P3 Power supply and ModWright Upgrades.  Remember I said that digital was a close second? Only a few digital rigs have come close enough, and then only recently, for me to proclaim that the performance gap between digital and analog playback has been significantly closed. This extremely affordable dynamic digital duo, with the upgraded power supply and deft modifications by Dan Wright, rivals the best digital sound available today - period. Mark Schifter and Peter Madnick have done it again. Exquisite retrieval of detail, superb extension Ė at both extremes, glorious truth of timbre, exhilarating dynamics, utter transparency and a marvelous balance of presentation make this the digital rig to own. Take it from someone who has heard a $37,000 digital front end Ė youíre wasting your money elsewhere.

Von Schweikert Audio VR-4 Generation III Loudspeakers - $3999 
Guess what? Uncle Albert has done it again! Few speakers have created as much press as the VR-4, in all its iterations. Having listened extensively to the original version, and lived with the Gen IIís for the last three years, I wasnít expecting such a wholesale improvement as they offer. As astounding as those earlier modelís were in there time, the maestro has outdone himself with the Gen III. World class bass, near flawless balance, a delicate yet wonderfully articulate top end, a midrange purity that approaches perfection, an ability to image and stage that will astound Ė this is as close to heaven as you can get for $4000 Ė or even twice that. Donít worry; I have a full review in the works.

ClearAudio Virtuoso Mk II Moving Magnet Cartridge $850 
When youíve played with as many cartridges as a vinyl freak and reviewer like me has, you tend to get jaded. And just when you think youíve seen everything, something comes along to breath hope back into you. Enter the ClearAudio Virtuoso Mk II. I must admit to having been seduced by the remarkable detail and micro dynamic traits of the moving coil designs. I had thought that Ė when all else was equal Ė they would consistently best their moving magnet brethren.

Not so any longer. The ClearAudio Virtuoso Mk II is fast, clean, detailed, smooth and superbly balanced. I have yet to hear another cart in my system with the octave-to-octave balance of the Virtuoso. There is a "seamlessness" of timbre that is completely unlike anything Iíve heard from any of the moving coils in my experience. It is very neutral and extremely musical. It offers a degree of inner detail and micro dynamic shading Iíve only found previously from moving coil designs and never from another moving coil. It is both engaging and truthful, not necessarily a forgone conclusion with even the priciest of cartridges. It is articulate and resolute without being clinical or etched. It offers remarkable extension at both frequency extremes and superb control over them both. It is neither particularly forward nor recessed in its presentation. Most importantly, it offers a mastery of tonal balance unlike anything Iíve ever before experienced under $2,500. In short, the ClearAudio Virtuoso Mk II is one of the finest sounding cartridges Iíve had the pleasure to hear, regardless of design or price. Indispensable!

Okay, Iíll get off my analog soapbox Ė for now!