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The Beatnik’s 2014 California Audio Show Reports The Best Room Combining Vintage and Modern Sound

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Music First Audio teamed up with TriangleART and Audio Note UK to produce the best sound I have heard from a pair of Audio Note E’s at a show, and that includes the Audio Note Level 5 system that was at the California show last year.

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The speakers in this system were some of the more affordable of the AN/E’s: the AN-E Lexus  ($8,772). They were being driven by the Audio Note Empress parallel single-ended 2A3 mono-blocks ($7,200/pair).

The preamp –  if you want to call it that –  was the remarkable Music First Audio Baby Reference line stage ($7,790, $8,590 with remote). The Baby Reference was recently reviewed here on Dagogo and I will be following up on that review soon. Let it just be said this is one of the best line stages I have heard and that includes some that cost over four times as much.

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They were using two phono preamps depending on which turntable was playing: The Audio Note M6 RIAA phono preamp ($19,195) with the Signature turntable, and the Audio Note M2 RIAA ($4,087) with the Concerto. The cabling was a mixture of TriangleART and Audio Note.

The two turntables were the TriangleART Signature ($15,995) and the TriangleART Concerto ($3,995), tonearms were the TriangleART Osiris 12″ ($5,800) and  Osiris 9″ ($4,995), respectively. The cartridge was the TriangleART Zeus MC cartridge ($3,995). The SUTs were the Music First Audio Classic Step-up ($3,100). If you like modern looking turntables with plenty of bling then there is nothing that competes with the looks of these turntables.

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If I had to pick a complete system from what I heard at the show this would have surely been it for me. It blended the best of the modern and vintage sound of other systems. It had plenty of tone, good harmonics, great dynamics and micro-dynamics. It sounded very alive and was a lot of fun to listen to music on. Still, it was transparent, imaged more than well enough to suit me, and had a very nice soundstage. By the way the buzz in the hall outside their door was how great it sounded. Well done to all who put this room together.

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