The AXPONA 2023 Chronicles: Part 2
Von Schweikert Audio, Lampizator, Westminster Lab,
Small Green Computer
With all the big ticket items in this rig, it is comforting to know the front end consisted of a Small Green Computer i9 with optical connection ($3499) and a Sonore Ultra Rendu ($5499)... well, plus the DAC.
I prefer the look of the Critical Mass footers ($650 each) shown here to the wooden butterfly base originally offered, though even these are kind of nondescript. Hopefully, they make a significant contribution.
Westminster Labs is another new name for me and their Class A monoblocks ($32,900) were perched upon a very substantial amp stand from FalkenOhr ($6k) that was also new to me. The amp is a nice substitute for tube amps with Russian tubes, given the geopolitical earthquake we've been experiencing this past year, though I'm concerned for friends in Hong Kong, too.
$50k is a lot of money for a DAC, but the LampizatOr Horizon is one of the very best available, which is why it was shown multiple times at this and other shows since it was first introduced. I've been lucky to review their entry-level Amber 4 DAC and found it to be very acceptable at a much more modest price, though its price will vary depending on how it is configured with inputs and outputs. And personally, I find the LCD screen on the Amber 4 to be more useful than the volume readout on the Horizon. But for someone who appreciates the breathable air sound of tube gear, the Horizon is top dog.
Once again, Damon has used subwoofers at the back of the room, wired out of phase with his speakers, to quell bass boom in a small room. It does the job as the bass from the Endeavor 3SE was clean and tight all the way down to the limit of the room. As a consumer, if your room is this small, you might better consider a less potent speaker than have to resort to counteractive subwoofers.
The system sounded fine, but there was apparent concern about why the tube on one monoblock was shining red while the other was shining green. Maybe it's a nautical theme. No amount of tube wiggling or chassis banging could solve the discrepancy. That was an Audioquest power conditioner on the bottom shelf.
Off on a dresser at the side of the room were even smaller scale components for a desktop headphone or speaker-oriented system, showing you don't have to be wealthy to enjoy good-sounding music.