Capital AudioFest Chronicles 2022
After a quick trip to Massachusetts for Thanksgiving and a couple of wins by the Buffalo Bills, let's get back to the 5th Floor of the Hilton.
Room 530, Alma Music & Audio (Nagra, MSB,
Innuos, Qln, GigaWatt, Nemesis And Kubala-Sosna)
They were driven by a pair of Nagra Classic stereo/mono amps ($19.5 each) and a Nagra Classic tube preamp with a separate power supply ($19.5k). Above the preamp on the stand was an MSB Premier Streaming DAC ($29.5k) and on the top shelf was an Innuos Statement Next-Gen Music Server ($21.7k, with 1T memory). The bottom shelf held a GigaWatt PC-4 power conditioner ($14.5k). The cables were by Kubala-Sosna from New Jersey.
This was all pretty heady gear but what caught my eye was the Nemesis acoustic panels ($600 each) that presented a very classy contemporary solution for sound diffusion. They were a work of art by themselves without their audiophile function. This room set the bar quite high for Alma, but it was the corner suite, 532 that drew a crowd.
Suite 532, Alma Music And Audio (MoFi And HiFi Rose)
The speaker was paired appropriately with a HiFi Rose streamer and integrated amplifier — a pair of electronics that was as visually distinctive as the SourcePoint 10 itself. An IsoTek V5 Aquarius power conditioner did its best to cope with the 111V current that was running in the building. The front of the room was dramatically dressed with lighting sculpted to feature the speakers. The greenery highlighted the black components and kept them from falling into garage band territory. The darkened room also set the tone for the serious listening it justifiably deserved.
A female vocalist presented with great air and bloom. There was plenty of transparency and enveloping decay. The treble was articulate and the resolution overall was very good for a speaker in this price range ($3699). There was a great sense of space, yet from the music I heard, I was not drawn to pinpoint imaging. The coherence of the music was much more inviting than any audiophile trickery and it was emotionally very inviting. You're not going to get the kind of audiophile perfection that can be had for $100k, but you will most certainly be involved with your music. With its 91dB/W/m sensitivity and benign impedance, it should work very well with tube amplification if you want to go even deeper into your music.
The SourcePoint 10 with its coincident dome tweeter and 10" woofer is not a small monitor. Its bulging geodesic baffle projects its driver as if it were a cyclops and the stand came across as skinny legs. The speaker aches for a more creative dedicated stand that will likely bring the price up to $5k or more. Something that will carry over and accentuate the baffle would be lovely. Fear not. There is a magnetically attached grille that will hide the baffle's unique design. I heard that something is in the works for a better stand. As for walnut vs. black, the black went very well with Leonard Cohen singing "You Want It Darker." It will leave you in the dark, shuddering with your emotions.