Thursday, January 23, 2014

Zellaton Reference with CH Precision, Trinity and Sperling - Best Sound


From TAS:

In the Audioarts room, Gideon Schwartz was demoing the Sperling L-1 Turntable ($35,950) with Durand Talea balanced tonearm ($9500) and Jan Allaerts MC2 Boron Mk2 cartridge (Price TBA). The L-1 is a beautiful all-German handcrafted, hand-assembled turntable with seemingly endless sonic possibilities, depending on one’s listening preferences. Its two rotational discs can accommodate any tonearm geometry, the tape tensioner can be adjusted on the fly depending on desired subjective tone, and the platter can be ordered with “wedge inserts” made of various materials (wood, Portuguese argillaceous shale, metal, etc.) to fine tune even further.

Fed into a Trinity phono and preamp, driven by the new CH Precision M1 monoblocks, pumped into the stunning Zellaton Reference floorstanders, and connected with Tellurium Q Black Diamond cables, this was the best sounding analog room of CES—by far.

Gotta love that German precision, because I heard details on the 45rpm test pressing of Midnight Blue that I had never heard before. I hope he’s not mad at me for saying this, but after side one of the record finished, Gideon was all puffy-eyed and choked up—and so was I. The amount of information this ’table retrieves is phenomenal, and with its endless configurations, the L-1 should be at the top of the list for any vinyl aficionado looking in this price range. Absolutely breathtaking.

Best Sound (cost no object)
Fronted by the amazing Sperling L-1 turntable, the Zellaton Reference floorstanders left me gasping for breath, and was the only system that truly gave me new insight into my 45rpm test pressing of Midnight Blue.

From Stereophile:

Like Stephen Mejias at the 2013 Rocky Mountain Audio Fest, I have been impressed by the German Zellaton speakers when I have heard them, both at shows, and at a dealer event I attended in 2012 at Fidelis Audio in New Hampshire.

With foil-covered drive-units, a crossover from Duelund Coherent Audio, and driven by Trinity balanced phono and line preamps and 200Wpc CH M1 amplification from Switzerland, the three-way Reference speakers sounded forceful and detailed. Whether it was Salvatore Accardo playing a violin piece by Paganini, Ladysmith Black Mambazo, or jazz guitar from Grant Green, the sound in the Audio Arts room was seductive.

Priced "a little under $100,000/pair," the speaker combines 3 woofers and a midrange unit in an open-baffle enclosure with a tweeter that also uses a foil-laminated diaphragm. The midrange unit is allowed to rolloff naturally at the top of its passband.

Gideon Schwartz of AudioArts NYC assembled an extremely fast system that delivered maximum color without any of the harsh, irritating edge that I encountered on many systems, both tube and solid-state, at CES. On Salvatore Accardo's well-worn Diabolicus in Musica LP of Paganini's solo violin music, as well as on a CD by the Musicians of the Nile, I was deeply impressed by the upward extension of the tone and the system's willingness to bathe music with the light it deserves. If the system wanted for the last iota of bass impact and clear delineation of low-lying lines, it nonetheless handled bass with a finesse that few hotel room set-ups offered, especially in the case of large loudspeakers sandwiched into small spaces.

John Atkinson has already covered the new Zellaton Reference loudspeakers ($97,750). As my beat was new amps and preamps, I draw your attention first to the CH Precision M1 monoblock amplifiers ($TBD), which are due out in February. Outputting 400Wpc into 8 ohms, they are made in Switzerland and engineered by some of Goldmund's former lead engineers.

Also new were the Trinity preamplifier ($34,750), a fully balanced design from Germany's Dietmar Breuer, who is also responsible for hand wiring and assembly; Trinity's fully balanced phono stage ($34,750), which Michael Fremer recently wrote about for Stereophile—note that the Jan Allaerts MC2 Boron Mk.2 phono cartridge ($TBD) ran fully balanced into the phono preamp for greater dynamics and lower noise floor; and the Tellurium Q Black Diamond cables ($TBD).