T.H.E. Show Newport Beach 2016: Chris Martens' Best in Show


It seems that whenever VTL’s Luke Manley and Wilson’s Peter McGrath team up to create demo systems great sound is the inevitable result. So it was with this spectacular system consisting of Wilson’s new ALEXX floorstanders driven by a VTL TL-7.5 Series III preamp and Siegfried Series II monoblocks, which in turn are fed from a dCS Vivaldi 2.0 CD transport and DAC. Transparent Cables help bring the system to life.

One of the most graceful and effortlessly natural-sounding systems at THE Show was this one, which combine a pair of Kharma Elegance dB7 speakers with a Zesto Audio Andros 1.2 phono stage, Leto 1.5 preamp, and a pair of EROS 300 Class A monoblock amps. Feeding the system is a Merrill-William REAL 101.2 turntable fitted with a Tri-Planar U2 arm and Dynavector XX2 MKII cartridge. WyWires cables help tie the system components together, giving them a wonderfully open sound.

Sonja 1.2 floorstanding speakers figured prominently in several rooms, but in our view they sounded best of all—elegant, refined, and supremely natural—in this system as fed by an MSB Select DAC and a pair of MSB M204 monoblock amplifiers (yes, MSB makes amps in addition to world-class DACs).

One system that strongly emphasized value for money was this one, featuring Spatial M3 Turbo S dipolar loudspeakers ($2,595/pair), a Torgual LDR3 preamp ($1,195), a Red Dragon S500 amplifier ($1,995), and—as perhaps the most exotic component in the system—a Lampizator Lite 7 DAC ($6,000). Pushing the value-orientated theme further still, the system was wired with excellent (but decidedly minimalist) ANTICABLES.

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