”It will come as no surprise that the Technical Brain TBP-Zero EX monoblock amps and TBC-Zero EX linestage are my new solid-state references. They are almost the exact electronic equivalents of the Magico Q5 loudspeakers (with which they mate up superbly well – though I’ve also heard Technical Brain sound extraordinary with Magneplanar 1.7s and 3.7s, Nola Baby Grand Reference’s, and Morel Fat Ladies). The highest-resolution, highest speed, lowest-coloration solid-state electronics I’ve yet reviewed, they eliminate the slight reduction, blunting, and blurring of energy that emitter resistors apparently cause, increasing the realism of truly well-recorded instruments and vocalists by reproducing their transients, timbres, and decays with greater fidelity. They earn my highest recommendation.”
”Listening to a New Product Much Talked About Technical Brain TBP-Zero EX Surprisingly generous driving power, you will be touched by brilliant timbre. In short, a sound of the TBP-Zero EX is as clear as mineral water and has a refreshed feeling, while they have surprisingly generous driving power.”
”Technical Brain’s pursuit of “reproduction ability at the ultra-micro level”, “high-fidelity at every sound level”, “high-resolution even when multiple sound sources are mixed”, “elimina tion of modulation” and so on, along with the company’s technology and production methods, which are all orthodox but extremely difficult to materialize and produce, appeal to anyone interested in high-end audio.”
“The superlatives abound everywhere in my mind, retrospectively. Transparency. Detail, in spades. Incredibly dynamics, and lightning-like swing… a JUMP factor that’s unparalleled. Soundstaging that’s a complete wraparound: Miles deep, high, wide… a holodeck experience with LPs. Bass that goes bloody deep…deeper than I’ve heard from a turntable system… glorious midrange…and highly extended upper frequencies, with no limits. Air, presence, real silence… which is not “nothing”… rendered effortlessly. Imaging that lets you take great recordings and point directly at performers. Layering that lets you see row after row in a symphony orchestra, without having to force the exercise. I just keeping flappin’ and flippin’ my LPs, snappin’ my fingers, bouncin’ my head, my hands, and my feet, and smilin’. Pure delight”.
Classic and timeless, the quintessential granddaddy of all high-end turntables is the Walker Proscenium Black Diamond V (about $110,000). Affixed to a 70-pound lead platter and driven on an effortless, frictionless air-bearing with a linear-tracking tonearm also based on an air -bearing design, the Black Diamond is considered by many to be the pinnacle of analog production. Its sharp piano-black styling and gold accents harken to the steam-engine glamour of the roaring ’20s. Those who have heard one should count themselves lucky, and tho se who own one will probably never need to purchase another turntable in their lifetime.
“Audiophiles will find in the Capriccio Continuo (ATD) Admonitor 311 a high quality product which absolutely must be appropriately matched, and especially, perfectly placed in the listening room. Once these two criteria are respected and implemented, this pair of speakers will satisfy the most demanding and the most meticulous listener. The speakers’ dispersion and their analytical power are remarkable, and the beautiful soundstage they produce will make it unnecessary to close your eyes to imagine a large and entirely believable space. So, are they discreet and delicate, powerful and impressive for their size? Certainly some of all that, but in any case never timid and self-effacing! The exceptional work on the crossover should again be emphasized, it has made the cutoff between drivers really imperceptible. Not to neglect the form of the enclosures or the choice of high-technology drivers, all of which participate in the final result, the crossover elaborated by Christian Yvon is a total success and gives the Admonitor 311 a special and easily recognizable charm; a kind of signature which is impossible to forget. Let us hope the Admonitor 311 receives a welcome which is not capricious, and the most continuous possible listening sessions in the audio boutiques.”
“Mal Valve: The ultimate headphone amplifier It’s made in Germany and costs a fortune, but the Mal Valve Head Amp Three is the best there is. I hear d through the grapevine that the Mal Valve Head Amp Three takes headphone sound t o the next level, so I had t o check it out for myself. I brought two of my best headphones to the Audioarts NYCshowroom to audition the amp, and it really was an ear opener. “Space” was the first thing I noticed, the Mal Valve decodes spatial cues in recordings better than any amp I’ve heard to date; and the resolution, clarity, and purity of the sound were all superlative via my Audeze LCD 3 headphones. The Mal Valve frees up the sound, as if there was nothing between the music and your ears.
Since the Mal Valve is one of the rare headphone amplifiers that can drive electrostatic and dynamic headphones, I also auditioned the sound with a pair of Stax SR 007 electrostatics. The 007s’ you-are-there transparency was astonishing, but lacked the bod y and soul I heard from the LCD 3s. That’s the way I’ve always felt about the 007s, but some hard-core headphone lovers prefer them over the LCD 3s. To each their own, but with the Mal Valve you have an amp that can drive both. And the price? It’s $6,475, making it the most expensive headphone amp I’ve spent quality time with.”
“… the SR-009 might arguably be the most transparent, most resolving, most focused, and most well balanced audio transducer on the planet. If you happen to love fine electrostatic loudspeakers, which I do, yet have been disappointed by their limitations in terms of dynamics and/or low-frequency extension, then hearing the Stax in action may well prove to be a revelation for you. In essence, you get all the light, lithe, fast, finely resolved sound you could ever want from an electrostat, but with powerful low bass that effortlessly extends down to 20Hz, plus downright breathtaking dynamics that no full-range electrostatic loudspeaker could ever hope to match. The result is downright amazing. What unique sonic joys does the Stax SR-009 bring to the party? Well, if you are the sort of listener who, down deep, wishes to access every last minute bit of sonic information that passed through the record producer’s mastering console, then your transducer of choice has most definitely arrived. In fact, as you listen carefully to your favorite records through the SR-009, you may come away with the impression (quite possibly an accurate one) that you now know even more about the inner workings of the records than the producers did. How cool is that? Very cool, indeed.”
“This range of musical expression is a key analogue attribute and the Goldfinger Statement takes it to new levels. More importantly, it’s universal in its appeal. It matters not whether you play the LSO or Elvis Costello, the sheer presence in the performance, whether it takes the form of almost abrasive guitar riffs or the most delicate of hanging notes, adds to the musical impact and the emotional response it produces. The Attractions literally drive a track like ‘Little Triggers’, the drum kit having a physicality that hits home, the bass a tactile and fluid quality that pulls you into its wake. Turn to the space and power of the Rutter Requiem or the delicate immediacy of Suzanne Vega’s ‘Tom’s Diner’ and the Statement is just as adept, bringing a quality that I can only describe as “concentration” to the music. Each instrument or voice is more solid, richer, more vibrant and more present in space, making most cartridges sound either hopelessly pale and insubstantial or clumsy, overblown and overwrought.
Is the Clearaudio Goldfinger Statement over stating its case? No, I really don’t think it is. Instead it is moving you closer to the presence and energy of live music. It doesn’t overstep the mark or exaggerate for effect. It simply gives you more of what separates the live from the recorded. By doing what Clearaudio’s have always done and then grafting on a whole new set of performance attributes, the Statement has seriously raised its game. Much as the Atlas (and Etna) have added new breadth to the established Lyra sound, the latest Goldfinger moves Clearaudio into virgin territory. The V2 was a very good cartridge indeed, but its replacement represents a step-change in performance, making it not just the best Clearaudio (by far), but one of the best cartridges ever.”
So what’s the downside of the Atlas? Surely there must be a hitch somewhere? Well, I can’t honestly say that the Atlas sounds as ethereal as the Air Tight PC-1 Supreme. At this level you are getting into taste and choice. The new “Statement” version of the Clearaudio Goldfinger, which I have not had the chance to audition, also sounded quite formidable to me at the 2011 Rocky Mountain Audio Fest. Overall, the Atlas does not land on the Koetsu side of the spectrum. Don’t get me wrong: it’s not abrasive. Not in the slightest. It sounds liquid and emotionally engaging. But the truth, to the extent that we can know what it is, is spoken here. The Atlas seems to slow down the LP and extract more ambience, information, and dynamics than almost any other cartridge.
Having heard a number of Lyras over the years—and recoiling at the sound of some of them, such as the Helikon – I can unequivocally state that Lyra has handily surpassed its previous efforts with the Atlas. The Atlas is not a cartridge that will leave anyone shrugging his shoulders in indifference. Instead, it is likely to leave you most impressed with its fidelity, purity, and speed. If you possess a large vinyl library and a fine turntable, then auditioning the Atlas is a must. My guess is that Harry Weisfeld is in for a considerable shock whenever he receives an Atlas.