“Why is there a box of parts next to each of the Evolution loudspeakers?” I jokingly asked Blue Light Audio’s Jonathan Tinn. He explained that those were the external crossovers for the three-way Maestoso loudspeakers ($18,900/pair) with their lids off. The speakers were being driven by the darTZeel NHB-108 Model Two power amplifier ($44,000), which was making its North American debut at AXPONA, and preamp was that Mikey Fremer favorite, the darTZeel NHB-18NS Mk.II ($44,000 with phono stage).
I listened to a CD transfer of Ray Lamontagne singing and playing acoustic guitar played with Merging Technologies’ Merging+NADAC D/A processor ($10,000) with its optional external power supply ($6000) and the new Merging+Clock-U external clock ($36,000 making its first-ever appearance), and was impressed by the smooth, clear, detailed presentation.
We then changed to LP playback, with “The Needle and the Damage Done” from Neil Young’s Live at Massey Hall LP, played on a Wave Kinetics NVS direct-drive turntable ($45,000 plus $600 for the W8 record weight and reviewed by Michael Fremer in our October 2012 issue) fitted with a Durand Tosca tonearm ($14,950) and the no-longer-available Ortofon MC Century cartridge. Wow!
I finished my listening to this admittedly super-expensive system with a live DSD recording of a Debussy piece by Russian pianist Ilya Itin decoded by the Merging Technologies DACDouble wow!!
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