Hearken Room: Graham Audio, Lejonklou, Yeti, Jean Nantais, Aidas, Cardas, Graham Engineering

What did the Hearken and Art et Son rooms have in common? The Graham Audio LS8.1 speakers ($13,300), so it probably shouldn’t come as a surprise that I heard a similarly, though not identically, engaging intimacy in both systems’ presentations, the kind that made me just want to relax in my seat and listen through whole albums.

The Grahams were the only piece of equipment common to both rooms. In this room, the Grahams were supported by a Lejonklou 40Wpc Boazu integrated amplifier ($5795); an Entity phono preamplifier ($3895; see Alex Halberstadt’s review) and Källa DAC/streamer ($11,695; Alex wrote about it in his Brilliant Corners column) from the same manufacturer; and a Yeti digital switch ($2000). Spinning vinyl was a Jean Nantais Reference turntable ($8600) with a Graham Engineering Phantom lll tonearm ($11,695), Cardas Clear Beyond phono cable ($2620), and Aidas Mammoth Gold MC cartridge, whose body is made from 21,000-year-old Siberian Woolly Mammoth tusk. Seriously. The system used signal and power cables by Yeti.

On vinyl and streamed tracks by Fink and Hooverphonic, the sound was engaging: rhythmic, real-life organic, texturally refined, with a tonal palette that walked the line almost dead center between natural and sweet. It lingered fondly in my mind long after I’d heard it.

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