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CAS

2019 CAS Report by Doug Schroeder

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Salk Sound SS9.5 “Satori” speakers, Room 5222.

A rather different setup with as much appeal, but a more relaxed character was presented in the room featuring the debut of the Salk Audio SS 9.5 Speaker System. It was running with the Exogal Comet DAC (I believe using Roon and Tidal for the media), McGary Audio SA1 Tube Amplifier, and ANTICABLES throughout. I reviewed  suite of ANTICABLES products recently, so I would have enjoyed hearing my recommendations of doubling the speaker cables applied to this system. And with every system heard at shows involving Exogal, I feel my reviews of the Comet and Ion are reinforced.

Jim Salk deserves a place alongside Richard Vandersteen and Bill Dudleston of Legacy Audio for giving audiophiles high value in speaker systems, and his designs largely destroy Vandersteen’s aesthetics. Here was another top 3 system; it was warm, but not blubbery, incisive, but not brittle, and authoritative with gracefulness.

 

Acapella Audio Arts Campanile 2 spherical horns with ion plasma tweeters, Audio Note UK electronics, emmLabs digital, Boardroom 5.

Audio Note UK CDT Five CD Transport, M9 Phono Preamplifier, Kegon 300B monoblocks, Acapella Audio One Music Server, emmLabs DV2 Integrated Converter, Boardroom 5.

Bay Area dealership Audio Federation put up the physically largest system at the show, with the Acapella Audio Arts Campanile 2 Loudspeakers anchoring it. Acapella also contributed the Audio One Music Server, and aside from the emmLabs DV2 Integrated Converter, Audio Note provided the rest of the system, with CDT Five CD Transport, M9 Phono Preamplifier and Kegon 300B Monoblocks. Here was a fine example of the glory of horn speakers, especially when utilizing spherical horn and a plasma tweeter! This system was in an entirely different class in terms of scale and power. Even though the bass was a bit indistinct – I would look for different amplification in this particular setup – it was loafing in terms of the presence of the low end filling the room. Spacious and entirely relaxed was the order of the day for this rig.

 

Bricasti Design M21 DAC, M12 Dual Mono Source Controller, M25 integrated amplifier (static display), M28 monoblock amplifiers, Room 5103.

Tidal Contriva speakers courtesy of dealership The Voice That Is, Room 5103.

One of the reasons the Bricasti Design room was so good is the simplicity of the system; Bricasti M12 Dual Mono Source Controller, M21 flagship DAC, M28 Monoblock Amplifiers and Tidal Contriva Speakers. It helped the demos that extremely good recordings were used, which set the system apart from much of the material used in other rooms. The speakers were large for the room, but wisely there was no attempt to overdrive the room. The system was well-balanced top to bottom with no glaring omissions or faux pas. I have yet to year a poor system at shows with systems from Pennsylvania dealership The Voice That Is, one of only a handful of dealers of which that can be said.

 

Wyred 4 Sound system: MS-i3 Server, HCPS (linear power supply), Recovery USB Reclocker, 10th Anniversary DAC, Aura Preamplifier, ST-750LE Stereo Amplifier, Room 5105.

Wyred 4 Sound W4S Tempus speakers, Room 5105.

The entire rig was Wyred 4 Sound: MS-i3 Server, HCPS (linear power supply), Recovery USB Reclocker, 10th Anniversary DAC, Aura Preamplifier, ST-750LE Stereo Amplifier, W4S Tempus Speakers. The Recovery USB Reclocker and Aura Preamp are new products. I was more drawn to this system than at other showings of W4S in past shows. Again, system synergy had something to do with it. I appreciated the boldness of the company in showing a speaker in development, with great potential, I might add. There was nothing terribly flashy about the nondescript bass bin, and some more tuning or adjustment of the top speaker module would bring more balance between the top and bottom end. The system was capable of impressive dynamics and high resolution. Having said that, in terms of full range systems with authority, the Tempus represents a lot of value. The company seems to be transitioning from a low cost leader to a more mature, bona fide high-end component maker.

 

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