Best of the year 2012-2013 - page 10

Even so the hifi press routinely overestimates small frequency response deviations and their deleterious effects on
the listening experience. At the same time it sorely underestimates or outright overlooks the importance of being 'on
time' or true to time. Beyond propaganda then and persuasive technical claims that essentially play out on paper and
in the mind, how would a widebander that's so deliberately optimized for those qualities—the step response above
tells that story—differentiate itself to the observant ear/brain versus more conventional solutions? What kind or
flavor of sound should one expect?
Game over? End game?
This speaker represents both. For the listener deeply entrenched in audiophile ritual, belief
and habit, the s1 is game over for amps. Obviously. But preamps seem out as well. With units of Trafomatic Audio
SM101D, ModWright LS-100 and Esoteric C-03 caliber on hand—single-stage direct-heated triode, 6SN7-based two-
stage hybrid, solid-state respectively—none sounded remotely as good as no preamp. To leave surprisingly sleepy
first gear as though one foot stayed glued to the brake meant any one of my three D/A converters with variable
outputs. Be it the Weiss DAC2, Antelope Audio Zodiac Gold/Voltikus or April Music Eximus DP1 (sequence in
ascending order of personal taste), they made far better sound direct over inserting any of my costly preamps behind
them. If you've heard an original Quad speaker and thought it pipe 'n' slippers boring—aka very resolved but too
polite, laid-back and bereft of jump factor—that's the direction the sound tookwith them. Yawn.
1,2,3,4,5,6,7,8,9 11,12,13,14,15,16,17
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