AXPONA 2015

AXPONA 2015: The Voice That Is, with TIDAL, Bricasti, Aurender, Purist Audio Design, Silver Circle

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Doug White of The Voice That Is built a gorgeous system around the TIDAL Contriva GS speakers ($69,690 as shown), easily the best looking speakers at the show. Note that this speaker is also a complete reworking of the Contriva Diacera SE loudspeakers. From TIDAL:

The all new successor of the worldwide praised TIDAL Contriva Diacera SE (2007-2014). We did not let things as they were, all is completely new with the Contriva G2. Like with iconic design classics improving does not mean changing. It means making dimensions and proportions better while strictly continuing and following the generic and unique design of it. So we made the Contriva G2 45mm less tall, 5mm less wide and we gave it 3° degree more slope to give it a more dynamic and elegant look while improving also the sonic dispersion of it.

The cabinet is made out of TIRADUR, TIDAL’s proprietary cabinet material for this 102 Kg beauty. Also we equipped it with all new BCC drivers, a complete new x-over design, an all new terminal with TIDAL’s completely new pure silver binding posts. The result is the very best midsize speaker we ever built.

The source was a Bricasti M1 ($8,995) fed by an Aurender W20 ($17,600).

Amplification also came from TIDAL, with the unbelievable, three chassis, Presencio Preamplifier ($77,990) feeding a pair of Impulse monoblocks ($64,990 per pair).

Everything was wired together with Purist Audio Design cables, and everything was sitting on Stillpoints. Power distribution came from the massive Silver Circle Tchaik 6.

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RMAF 2014

RMAF 2014: Bricasti Design and TIDAL Audio

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Logo - Blue VectorIf you follow The Audio Traveler, you’ll note that the Bricasti and TIDAL Audio system on display this year at RMAF mirrored the system that Scot had opportunity to hear at AXPONA earlier this year. So much the better, as far as I’m concerned; it’s not fair when Scot gets to have all the fun.

The speakers were the Piano Ceras from TIDAL Audio ($24,000); they feature ceramic drivers and the shiniest piano black cases you’re likely to see. They also have this nifty ability referred to as “Variogain” that lets them be tuned to suit the room: they can run in true 2-way mode, linear 2.5-way mode, or 2.5-way mode with Gain A. The amps were Bricasti’s newish M28 reference monoblocks ($30,000/pair), which have their own tweakability: pairing these amps with the Bricasti M1 DAC ($9,000) forms a balanced differential signal flow from source to speaker, and the M28 also offers 18 db of stepped attenuated gain adjustment. The amps and DAC were accompanied by a Silver Circle power conditioner ($10,000), an Oppo Digital CD player, and Luminst Revision cables by Purist Audio Design.

I was able to take the time for a nice long demo, for once, and sit through a couple of tracks. The first was a PCM recording of a selection from one of Tchaikovsky’s orchestral works (my notes fail me as to which one; please forgive me). I found the percussion very realistic and impactful, and the treble was nice throughout. However, I thought there were some issues with the lower strings, which seemed a bit dull and smeary in comparison to the violins, and lacking in definition. Then, a second Tchaikovsky piece — a recording of the Romeo & Juliet Overture, this time in DSD — eliminated these perceived issues essentially entirely; the cruft was gone, and the sound was pure and precise.

I don’t know if the folks running the room intended to give me an impromptu listen to the benefits of hi rez, but it was instructive — if only because it reminded me to check the quality of the recording before I make assumptions about the capabilities of a system! I was left to conclude that system would be an excellent choice for a power junkie who’s looking for a great deal of detail and speed.

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RMAF 2014

RMAF 2014 Roundup, Part 5: Small Rooms with Medium-Sized and Smaller Speakers

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By Darryl Lindberg
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The Voice that Is: Tidal, Bricasti, etc.

The ever-gracious Doug White set up an excellent system featuring Tidal Piano Cera floor standing speakers (at $23K Tidal’s “entry” offering) and Bricasti electronics, including their M28 amps. I quite enjoyed my time in this room: nothing strained or over the top, just fine sound, even though it was an analog-less set up. The Stravinsky and Chabrier cuts on my HDTT CD were reproduced beautifully: excellent string tone, immediacy, and surprising punch. All in all, it made me hanker for a listen to Tidal’s larger offerings.

Something new … Existence Speakers

Marko Reinikainen was showing his Existence Erotic ($6.8K) and Euphoric ($5K) single driver speakers driven by Triode electronics in room 1002. I happened to bop in while the larger Erotics were playing and really liked what I heard, which was a lot of what makes single driver speakers so seductive (marvelous midrange purity and dynamic directness) and not too much of what makes single driver speakers so frustrating (lack of extension and uneven—or no—response at the frequency extremes). I’ve never quite cottoned to single driver speakers, especially those with Lowther or Lowther-like drivers. To my ears, there’s always something missing at the low and high-end of the frequency spectrum. My own theory is that these drivers are both too small and too large to properly reproduce the ends of the spectrum: too small to effectively reproduce the low-end, even when housed in very large enclosures; too large to effectively reproduce to high frequencies, even when aided by the ubiquitous “whizzer cone.” But I have to say that Marko’s design made sounded good enough to make me reconsider my paradigms.

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Audio Note U.K.

Just as I was about to reluctantly make the trek out to my velocipede for the five-hour drive back to Santa Fe, I ran into Nelie Davis of Audio Federation and was gently persuaded to amble over to the Audio Note U.K. room. And I was sure glad I did. Nelie was graciously covering for the exhibitor, who was unfortunately called away due to a death in the family. The room featured a decidedly “real world priced” AN system (circa $25K all up); the source was a battery-powered Stellavox tape recorder (not included in the system price). We listened to a couple of Kodaly piano trios (private tapes, no recording info available), which were compellingly reproduced: musical is the word that comes to mind. Per AN standard procedure, the speakers were positioned in the room corners, which I found less problematic in this room than some of the other AN set ups I’ve heard over the years. It just goes to show you that it’s difficult, if not impossible to make absolute judgments when it comes to audio equipment—especially at shows.

Although I thought this year’s attendance was down versus last year, the various exhibitors I spoke with felt the traffic was as strong, if not stronger, than that in prior years. In any event, it was another wonderful show and kudus to all the exhibitors, attendees, and especially those folks behind the RMAF. If you attended, I Hope you enjoyed it, too; if you didn’t, it’s definitely worth your time. I’ll see you next at next year’s RMAF!

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CAF 2014

CAF 2014: Bricasti Design brings catapults, hurls insults at poor quality audio

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Brian Zolner of Bricasti Design has a good reason to be smiling. His new under $30k/pair (est.) 200wpc M28 mono amplifiers are simply outstanding. His M1 DAC has been sitting on top of the A+ Recommended Components List at Stereophile since its launch. Oh, and as lauded as these accomplishments are, it’s his pro-audio stuff that’s really killing it — his M7 Reverb unit is wildly popular.

Blah blah blah. I want those amps. Whoops. Did I just say that out loud? Heh heh. Whoops.

But it’s true — the amps are really impressive. Part of my adoration comes from the fact that I know the speakers Brian is using as part of the voicing process. They’re TIDAL Contriva Diacera SE loudspeakers, and I happen to have a pair and I’m routinely stunned by what they can do. When Brian shows, he tends to bring their baby-brother stablemate, the Piano Cera ($23,990/pair), and I’m pretty familiar with that speaker too — but driven by Brian’s amps, I’m not sure anyone has ever heard what a TIDAL loudspeaker can do. Bass? You want bass? Bah! You know nothing, Jon Snow. I’ve got yer bass right here, and I’ll raise you a magical midrange and a treble purity that will make you weep for the Fae whose voice are no longer fairest in the Nevernever.

In other words, Ba-da-BING. Hook me up! Continue reading

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CAF 2014

CAF 2014: The Voice That Is reaches for stars with TIDAL Audio, Bricasti and Aurender

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I’m pretty sure it’s a sign of old age when you start referring to your stories by number. Or maybe it’s just superior indexing? Ah, well. Anyway, audio story #1,287 is about Doug White at The Voice That Is. Doug is an audio dealer, and brings in several upscale product lines to serve his Philadelphia-centered clientele, including TIDAL Audio, Bricasti, and several others. My story starts with me calling Doug, asking some impertinent question or other, and Doug refusing to quote me a price, much less sell me something.

Honestly, I can’t even remember what it was I was asking after. But the fact that he refused to do business with me is what really sticks out. A dealer, refusing to make money? Seriously? Seriously. Doug isn’t a slash-and-burn sales guy. He’s a consultant and takes that role seriously: “If I sell this to you, you’re not going to like it and you’re going to blame me and never call me again,” he explained. “I think I can help you get where you want to be, but we are going to have to spend some time figuring out what that is. When we have a goal, we can work on a solution. That’s the value I bring.” I’m paraphrasing, but this was perhaps the first time I’d ever encountered a commercial sales rep actually doing this kind of thing — sacrificing the quick sale for the chance at earning a customer long-term. I was, and still am, very impressed with Doug and his ethical standards and he remains one of the very few audio dealers I can unequivocally recommend doing business with.

Now that I’ve blown all this smoke up in his general direction, we can talk about what he did to all of us at CAF this year. Because it was amazing.

Continue reading

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