Chapter Audio is showing their new Precis Integrated ($6500 US), sporting 130 wpc into 8 ohms, doubling into 4 ohms and featuring front panel iPod input. I've always enjoyed the sound from Chapter Audio and today is no exception. Filling out the rack are the Precis Plus Preamp at $5500 US and the 220 wpc Couplet Amp at $6500 US, with the Electrocompaniet EMC1 CD Player. The speaker is the very impressive Eben X-3 from Raidho.
In the Music Direct room I found some very impressive hybrid amplifiers from South African Valve Audio, in particular the Predator Integrated Amp at $3700 Cdn. This is a dual mono design with a Sovtek 6922 based linestage and MOSFET transistor power amp stage capable of 200 wpc into 8 ohms.
An Esoteric DV50S Universal Player (a personal favorite) and an Avid Diva Turntable ($3000 Cdn) with SME M2-9 arm ($1700 Cdn) compete for source
honors in this relaxed yet high-resolution room, but pay particular note to the shape of the remote control for the Valve Audio amp that Music Direct's Byron Collett is wielding.
$4900 Cdn will buy you this Black Widow Hybrid Amplifier, also from Valve Audio.
Now a drum roll please! Best Sound of the Show is shared by two rooms. Here is the first. It's the Gamut room. Gamut's owner Lars Gollar stands proudly by the new CD-3 and DI-150 Integrated Amp driving Gamut L5 speakers. The sound here is immediate, rich, and spacious, while the woodwork on these speakers is to die for. Yes Gamut has a range of speakers now, starting with the L3 2-way bookshelf, then the L5
is a 2.5-way floorstander, and the L7 3-way which stands over 50" tall and weighs 100 lbs. You can get these speakers in Bird's Eye Maple or Rosewood veneer with 11 layers of hand polished high gloss-lacquer. Gamut will also be happy to sell you a matching centre channel speaker. The L5 shown here has a frequency range of
32Hz to 60kHz, features two rear mounted ports, hi quality biwire binding posts and massive spiked feet. The tweeter is a 1.5" ring radiator with a machined
aluminum faceplate and stainless steel phase plug. There are two mid / bass drivers, each 7" in diameter with the familiar sliced paper cones, while the crossover is a 4th order design. These speakers are reasonably efficient at
89dB/W/m, but the impedance is a nominal 4 ohms and dips as low as 2.8 ohms at 200Hz so, be careful how you drive them. Most interesting for me is the Gamut CD-3 player, since I have spent a considerable time with the earlier fine-sounding but rather fragile CD-1. This new CD player is quite a different animal and is built like a battleship. It uses a Burr Brown PCM 1792 24-bit DAC with 192kHz upsampling and features a non-magnetic stainless steel inner chassis, which holds the rubber-suspended mechanism and the digital output board.
This inner chassis divides the interior space into three separate compartments and isolates the power supply from the D/A conversion and amplification. If you like the cosmetics of the CD-3, and the new integrated amp, the DI-150, you're going to love the new separate amplifiers Gamut will be introducing over the next year or two. Few companies excel in the performance of source, amplification and speakers. Fewer still offer such good-looking components while achieving such excellence. Well done, Gamut.
The other Best Sound of the Show is from a new player in high-end audio, Toronto based Sound Fusion.
Marlen Mogilever, Director of R&D is shown here with one of his new Hyperion active speakers ($19,000
Cdn), also available in passive form as the Nova ($12,000 Cdn). I will be reviewing the Hyperion shortly, so if you watch this space you'll hear all the juicy details. Sound Fusion is a subsidiary of one of the world's leading furniture manufacturers, and the finish on this speaker bears witness to that relationship. This is a high-energy speaker with lightening reflexes and superb detail. Feeding the active speakers in this room, and playing their part in the fine sound, are the Bluenose Stibbert CD Player and ARC Preamp, while the smaller Sound Fusion speaker is either the Arial active speaker ($12,000 Cdn) or its passive brother the Luna ($8,400 Cdn). Common to all four speakers is a true ribbon tweeter and once again, the cut Scan-Speak bass /midrange drivers. Unusually, these speakers sport a clear acrylic dust cover that protects the speaker when not in use and clips onto the rear for listening.
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