The Icing on the Munich Cake: McGrath, Fon, Nagra, Wilson, Impex

It had been far too long since I’d experienced a Peter McGrath demo, let alone one in which the master recording engineer and Wilson Audio Brand Ambassador had a full hour to share his recordings. At last, on Sunday at 2pm at Munich High End 2023, Peter followed Abby Fon (below) of Impex Records’ packed presentation on Al Di Meola, John McLaughlin, Paco DeLucia: Saturday Night in San Francisco 12 • 6 • 80 to spend an hour in the Nagra room playing a generous helping of some of the favorite tracks that he’s recorded over the years.

Each of Peter’s two presentations—the first was on Saturday—was different. At mine, the volume was initially too low to overcome the room’s heavy black draping and fill the space. But when it was turned up on the last two selections, music filled the room with the most glorious, timbrally true sound I heard at Munich High End.

Peter stuck to MQA-encoded digital files played through his computer. Without its analog front end, the system, which included the same Nagra recorder that Peter sometimes uses, consisted of Nagra’s new Classic DAC II with discrete class-A output stage ($18,500) fed by the company’s Classic PSU power supply ($16,900), Nagra’s HD preamp ($72,975), HD Amp monoblocks ($99,500/presumably for the pair), Wilson Audio Alexx V speakers (reviewed by Jim Austin in December 2021) with Lõke subwoofers (to be reviewed by moi), Shunyata Research cabling with Altaira Noise Reduction Ground Hubs, and Modulum racks and amp stands. The Alexx V speakers, I should add, were owned by Nagra.

Peter began with one his most recent recordings, of pianist Simon Trpčeski performing a bit of Prokofiev. Then came Copland, Mahler, Benjamin Grosvenor’s Bach-Buson Chaconne, Verdi’s “Caro nome” from Rigoletto, a fabulous jazz version of Bach’s Toccata and Fugue in D Minor from Ars Longa of Havana, and more. With sound as uncolored, filled with life, and involving as anything else I heard at Munich High End, the hour served as the perfect high point finale to Munich High End. I can’t wait to hear some of Peter’s music again when he journeys to Port Townsend in July to install the Lõkes for review.

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