Newport Beach, 2015

The most mesmerizing system I encountered at THE Show—the one I most regretted not being able to revisit on Day 3—was jointly presented by Rick Brown of Hi Fi One of Southern California and Stillpoints. Brown, shown here with Steve McCormack, worked with Paul Wakeen of Stillpoints to assemble a system whose ability to convey delicacy and nuance took my breath away.

As Shirley Horn sang Joao Gilberto's "Estate" via a Sonorus ATR 10 tape machine ($17,000) and a special, holographically remastered 2-channel tape taken from the 6-channel SACD of her Here's to Life, the music's gorgeous midrange, glowing warmth, and to-die-for timbres were unparalleled in my experience. The world debuts of the SMc Audio/ HiFi One Silver Signature edition linestage ($50,000) and SMc Audio/Hi Fi One Nexus AC power enhancer ($16,000), as well Berning/Hi Fi One 211/845 OTL mono amplifiers ($75,000/pair), were also responsible for the magical presentation.

The virtually indescribably delicacy, warmth, and tonal beauty of a 24/96 track from M•A Recordings' Sera una Noche, as transmitted by a chain that included the US debut of the Wadax PRE 1 native DSD DAC with Zepto clock, phono, A/D, and SSD server ($72,670) as well the SMc Audio components, were astounding. In both setups, EnKlien David cabling and Entreq grounding cabling allied with Entrq's Silver Tellus grounding box ($2699) conveyed a pristine silence between notes that was positively addictive.

Equally essential credit goes to the Kaiser Kawero Classic loudspeakers ($65,000/pair), whose ability to convey height, clarity, and tonal beauty turned heads in several rooms at the show. Finally, the room's 13 Stillpoints Aperture room treatments ($650/each), 44 Stillpoints Ultra 6 equipment supports ($899 each), world debut Stillpoints ESS Low Profile Rack ($8295), and 2 Stillpoints ESS Grid racks with Ultra 6 supports ($25,172 each) were essential components in the system. They couldn't totally address bass booming in the extremely difficult acoustic, but they tamed it to a remarkable extent. Experience suggests that without the Stillpoints products, the system would not have been as breathtaking as it was.

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