14 September, 2019

Kronos Pro, Air Tight PC-1 Supreme, Audionet, Auralic, Mola Mola, Qobuz, Bow Technologies, YG Anat Reference II

Click pics to enlarge. YG driven by Audionet monoblocks. Screen displays Qobuz.

NY Diary (19-12): Exotic High End, LP Kingdom, Vintage Silent Display

Two posts below I reported a trip to New Jersey. What I didn't report then were the main events of that day, and here they are now. A very full day indeed. The day started with dropping off at Paul's our gears for repair. Then we proceeded to the warehouse, and then a so-so late lunch and visit to Princeton Record Exchange, where I bought nothing, imagine! Then for some relaxation, we visited the home of JY.

Home Visit: Exotic High End
The basement was large and comforting. It housed some serious gear. JY is foremost a classical music man and an analog aficionado. The basement was spacious, comfortable and the wall of LP was inviting and comforting.

The Kronos Pro is a very expensive turntable that has garnered a good reputation. As the well written  HiFi+ review introduced, it combines suspension with twin counter-rotating platters (the latter first used by 47 Labs Koma). This marked the first time I heard Kronos. Cartrdige is the Air Tight PC-1 Supreme.

Amplification was all German Audionet (phonoamp on bottom rack, preamp and monoblock amps). Now, Audionet is very familiar to me. In HK I used to know the grey goods importer and got to hear many systems. Good power and OK/kinda bland sound but like most German gear this is not a favorite brand of mine, even among transistor offerings.

CAS is run via Roon, using a Linux Server. As JY does quite a bit of streaming and because of his classical bent, he uses the service of Qobuz, quite new to the US, which is hi-res. This is run into an Auralic Streamer, then into the Mola Mola Tambaqui DAC (another brand that I have never auditioned before), which also serve for CD playback via an old but very beautiful Bow Technologies CDP used as transport (of which I forgot to take a pic!). Bow used to be popular in HK and they sounded as good as they looked.

After suffering damage after a thunderstorm, the YG Anat Reference II were "upgraded" to "current technology" (still available on official website). I did not make a study of all the expensive cables.

We started with LP. The first one was a current re-issue Decca Ansermet Stravinsky Petroushka, and I cringed in my seat because of the lean balance and threadbare violins, the kind of sound we associate with bad digital. I really question the sound of many of these re-issues, and I as a rule don't buy them. Fortunately, after a few old LP's, sound got to be much better. In this system, interestingly the same album sounds better on London than Decca.

With a loudspeaker like that, it goes without saying that the system was very revealing. But most impressive was the dynamics - in Mahler Symphony No. 2 (Solti), the swing from a whisper to a fortissimo crash was downright awesome. A quibble is that due to the fast speed the bone-crunching dynamics sounded a bit unnatural and crescendos peaked too suddenly. However, impressive it nevertheless was! For sure, the sound was better than the many YG's I heard at HK shows.

We also asked to hear the streaming, which was surprisingly good, on par with the analog actually. Mozart's Zauberflote (Nezet-Sequin, DG) was pristine. We heard a few more cuts and stayed later than usual. In terms of CAS, JY's setup is relatively straightforward but it sounds much better to my ears than those complicated and threadbare systems concocted by many HK self-proclaimed computer audiophile guru's. As in much of audio, the more complicated it gets the worse the sound usually, and CAS is no exception.

Silent Display Then the over-generous Steven insisted on taking us to dinner. Because we had lunch late, we went to his spacious house first. He had equipment and LP everywhere on silent display. Music plays constantly when he's at work so it is no wonder he does not need to fire any of these up. He seems well on the way to become another 陽江十八子 ("Worlds's Number 1 Audiophile?" in this TAS article). Well, but Steven collects vintage only. Well, before I forget, thanks for the dinner! Some pics (click to enlarge):

Pair of Tannoy. In the corner cabinet, Fisher, Scott, Marantz 7C, ARC SP-11.
Study loaded with LP and CD. Pilot, Quad, and many pairs of Quicksilver's.
McIntosh, CJ
Tannoy Churchill, ARC D-79, CJ Premier 7, CAT SL-1, Marantz 8B

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