The net result is a sound that brings out the best from the equipment that resides upon the QXK rack and its shelves. We want and get detail – but that’s on show in almost every good system – but QXK presents that detail in an ordered, natural and coherent way; the way the equipment should sound.
Without it sounding like it accents the bass or drums, the QXK system makes your system sound like it has a better back section. Equipment on the QXK hang together better in a more rhythmically-coordinated manner. Often, this sense of rhythmic cohesion happens because of an accented leading-edge, which is why ‘PRaT’ (Pace, Rhythm and Timing) is so commonly associated with music in strict 4/4 time. Here, by teasing out the nuances of the rhythm section – through sheer absence of background interference – that rhythmic integrity just seems natural and makes recordings that bit more lifelike. Weirdly, that applies far beyond the 4/4 time signature; try Panufnik’s Sinfonia di Sfere [Tampere Phil, Storgards, Ondine/Naxos] for example; the almost architectural compositional style doesn’t give much rhythm for a system to cling to, but without that rhythmic scaffolding, it can just sound like random orchestral noodling. The QXK system gives the system that scaffolding needed to support the music, and this makes it more comprehensible.
Moving away from more challenging modern classical music, the QXK’s combination of letting the audio electronics do what they are supposed to do with few constraints coupled with a general tying together of the sound makes for a very entertaining experience. In particular, the rack gives the system opportunity to play loud (or very quiet) without being influenced by the surroundings and it makes you want to listen to more music for longer. Not just delicate audiophile-approved jazz; ‘Wiley Flow’ by Stormzy [Heavy Is The Head, Merky/Atlantic] spits along with real power and force.
Despite being two stages down from Critical Mass Systems Olympus V-12 flagship, this is a physically big, tall and heavy rack. Its turntable heritage shines through because the top-most component on the rack with its platforms is at an ideal height for changing a record without crouching. The system exudes Gibraltar-like solidity, and the rack acts like a peacemaker, bringing all that sit on it into musical accord. This is a change to the sound that at once immediately impresses but more importantly has staying power. It’s the rack that keeps on giving. If you have the best and want the best, Critical Mass Systems might just have all the answers.
Critical Mass Systems QXK Rack
Black Diamond shelf: £5,000 per level
Black Platinum shelf: £4,000 per level
Black Sapphire shelf: £3,000 per level
Manufacturer: Critical Mass Systems
Link to where to buy (international): criticalmasssystems.com/dealers_international.html
UK Distributor: Select Audio
Tel: +44(0)1900 601954