I feel a public recommendation of Julian Musgrave at the Audio Workshop in Norwich is due.Not just for his efforts to locate & acquire the quality components used for our demo. yesterday but,particularly for the informative,relaxed & welcoming atmosphere he fostered.
Preventing any possibilty of me becoming overawed & thus giving me the freedom to ask as many questions as required to satisfy my curiosity.And,just as importantly,to have most of my queries answered convincingly...On the few occasions he was unable to give me a positive answer he referred me to the respective UK importer/distributor who would.
I'd originally arranged to compare the performance of TEAC - Esoteric's X-01D2 CD/SACD player with the relatively new P-05 transport & D-05 32-bit dual-mono. DAC(capable of upsampling to 176.4kHz i think).I was informed before my audition that the X-01D2 is about to be supplanted by the P-05/D-05 combo.So,instead of the X-01D2 we'd originally planned to hear,Julian managed to get hold of the P-03 CD/SACD transport/D-03 dual-mono. DAC(capable of upsampling PCM data to DSD - 2.822MHz).A rare piece of audio jewellery - in the UK at least.
The Sources were connected to the Simaudio - Moon Evolution series P8 pre-amp. with outboard power-supply & W8(250wpc @ 8Ohms) power-amp. when using the Sonus Fabers.Also set-up for me to compare were the ATC-SCM50ASL's(50w HF/100w MF/150w LF) active speakers & Sonus Faber - Amati Anniversario's.Connected throughout using Abbey Road's Reference series cabling & interconnects.
Coincidentally,half-way through our demo. Julian had a delivery of a pair of ATC-SCM100's(50w HF/100w MF/200w LF) actives,for a customer who's an audio industry professional.He there & then offered to hook-up the SCM100ASL's for me to listen to.
I haven't been too keen on the idea of active speakers previously,but after witnessing the active ATC's obvious ability to remain largely composed & free of distortion or compression during musical peaks.The extra air around each note,dynamics,presence,scale,seemlessness from low-to-mid-to-high frequencies,speed & weight these ATC's can give to the overall performance.Especially when compared to the Sonus Faber's...WOW!
Their qualities make music like Barbers' Adagio for Strings,Opus 11(or the Agnus Dei based upon it);Beethovens' Sonata No.14 in C-sharp minor,Op.27 No.2 'Moonlight' & Sonata No.23 in F minor ‘Appassionata’,Op.57;Faures' 'Pavane' in F-sharp minor,Opus 50;Holsts' 'Mars' from his 'Planets',Opus 32;or Orffs' 'O Fortuna' from his 'Carmina Burana' simply come alive.But,please don't be mistaken that these are one trick ponies.They're just as great with any other form of music.Believe me,i tested them with almost every genre & differing recording qualities imagineable.
Their performance was all the more surprising when i was initially confronted with their anachronistic,hum-drum & uninspiring look.Though,if i have one minor observation,the active ATC's can sound as if they harden slightly during musical peaks or higher volumes.
As the dealership has only been going for around a year,it's evident that their demo. rooms are still a work in progress.But i'd like to think that conscientious guys like Julian & humble but cosy places like The Audio Workshop in Norwich will make it through these bleak times to have the opportunity to thrive in better economic climes.