Notable - Part 2
There’s a huge, high-resolution stereo image from this system. Jerry Gracia’s Knockin’ On Heaven’s Door guitar play was stringy – yet smooth and tangible. Vocals had a surprising amount of gravity and presence. Top that off with brilliant air and shine – and we have something very special. I really got lost from the sound in this room.
Before even finding a seat, I went straight for the speakers. Photos don’t do it justice – but MAN, these Wilson Audio Sasha DAWs are beautiful. If I were to get a pair of these speakers, this blue would be it. I couldn’t look away. Gorgeous.
Oh yeah, the sound.
As with most Wilson Audio systems, there’s an undeniable lifelike character to this one. Abdullah Ibrahim’s Calypso Minor played with smooth and rhythmic thumps. Although the tone was slightly more grey and neutral, it had such fantastic control of aural cues, especially in transient and decays. Brass, in particular, was gracefully resolved. Beautiful inside and out.
- Wilson Audio Sasha DAW ($38,000)
- D’Agostino amplifier
- dCS Vivaldi DAC
- dCS Rossini DAC
- dCS Bartok
- Nordost cables
Kharma, makers of some of the most expensive speakers in the world, are strutting their stuff here. One of the punchiest – and the fanciest room at the show. It feels like you’re stepping into a palace with a garden when you enter. I was surprised I wasn’t fed grapes.
In fact, part of my interest in high-end audio started with Kharma loudspeakers years ago. There was a shop up in San Francisco called Elite Audio Systems. A big thank you goes out to Michael Woods for spoiling my ears.
I digress. Let’s address the elephant in the room.
The Kharma Enigma Veyron EV-2D
With every piece of art the creator has a palette of colour and flavours to choose from, to be able to evoke a feeling of true beauty. During the creation of a high-end audio product this is not any different. Our Kharma palette consists of more than 30 years of experience, new technological insights and the best selected materials.
With this generously filled palette, Charles van Oosterum has created the Enigma Veyron line on his journey to realize the Holy Grail in the High-End audio. To create a new level of sound quality and truly offer superior technology that would push the limits of the current dynamic loudspeakers was not an easy task.
The sound had ZERO hints of digital and is probably as lifelike as music is going to sound. It was a meatier yet silkier sound. In addition, you’re able to hear the lower-level trinkets of nuances. The music just flows – but doesn’t sacrifice the details.
Sitting there reminded me of why I started this audiophile journey in the first place.
- Kharma Enigma Veyron EV-2D Loudspeakers – €350,000/pair
- Kharma Cables
- dCS Vivaldi
- SOtM sNH-10G Audiophile Switch
Zellaton & YS Sound
I’ll admit – I was drawn to the shiny drivers on these 300 lbs, 4-ohm, 3-way floorstanders. Super pretty. These German Zellaton speakers were driven by Japanese YS Sound electronics. Interestingly, they’re also incredibly sensitive at 90 dB.
Gregorio Paniagua’s Fons vitae / Dementia praecox angelorum played with brilliance. It was able to balance vividness and tactility into a powerful and engaging sound. Admittedly, it wasn’t quite my taste (tonally) but the amount of spatial clarity and atmosphere did draw me in – and kept me there.
- 2018 Zellaton Reference MkII Speakers – $168,000/pair
- Reed Muse 3C turntable – $18,000
- YS Sound YSS 782 preamplifier – $312,500
- YS Sound YSS-722 monoblocks – $437,500/pair
- Schnerzinger cabling
Being Best of Show at AXPONA 2019, I couldn’t wait to hear them again in Munich. This time with VTL electronics. My feeling is that the VAC electronics (at AXPONA) were a little warmer sounding while VTL focused more on spatial resolution.
Overall, my impressions were the same – these Grand Avant Garde X ($13,000) loudspeakers sound incredible – regardless of price. These speakers could be the end-game – without breaking the bank.
Check out the AXPONA awards for the scoop.