Yesterday I visited the local dealer Audio Excellence at their new location in Markham. Just like last year they host a series of manufacturer events throughout the month of November.
Yesterday's event featured the new Wilson Audio Alexia 2 loudspeakers ($60,000 USD) as well as the new MSB Technology Reference DAC ($39,500 USD for base option).
The first part of the presentation was by Vince Galbo, a Sales Manager from MSB Technology. He introduced the new Reference DAC, which is a very versatile and innovative device with a modular design, which allows a customer to choose between various femtosecond clocks, input and output options. This particular unit, for example, had the upgraded preamp module with a volume control. Other features included: 4 Hybrid DAC modules, network renderer, Native Quadrate DSD, MQA support, isolated power supply design.
The digital front end used in the presentation was MSB's Universal Media Transport V. Power amps were Dan D'Agostino Momentum 400 Monoblocks.
And here are the musical selections that were played from CDs:
Night Train by Christian McBride
I've Grown Accustomed To Your Face by Sonny Rollins
Drifting by Harry Connick, Jr.
I'm Confessin' (That I Love You) by Dean Martin
The Harry Connick, Jr. track was played from an SACD, first with Native DSD processing and then again with DSD Optimized filtering. Personally, I preferred the former.
After a short break, Peter McGrath of Wilson Audio began the presentation for the new Alexia 2 loudspeakers. The new version is about $4000 more than the first generation. It features the same tweeter as in Wilson Audio's flagship WAMM Master Cronosonic ($685,000 USD). The mid range enclosure is enlarged by 17%. The bass enclosure is enlarged by 12%. This results in additional room to put in more bracing. and make the enclosure more rigid. as well as extend the bass down a bit. This results in a faster, more detailed bass.
Another feature that comes from the WAMM is the much higher degree of precision adjustability of the modules. in the time domain. This refers to the ability to electro-mechanically align the output of the drivers so that sound from all drivers comes out of one point. Which is the reverse of the recording process, where sound is captured by a microphone in a single point. This concept was first developed by Dave Wilson in 1977, when he experimented with a system of ropes and pulleys in his listening room, sitting on a couch at the end of the room and adjusting the positions of modules with mid range drivers and tweeters, while woofers sat on the ground, in relation to each other to achieve the best sound.
Peter then played a selection of musical pieces to showcase the speakers. He would play a regular version first followed by MQA. He mentioned that he is a big proponent of the MQA technology and that he personally was convinced when he heard his own recordings (he's a recording engineer) processed by MQA and then played back. His musical selections clearly demonstrated the differences. Even with regular versions, the sound was amazing. Extremely detailed, fast and dynamic. Very precise imaging and a sound stage that on some tracks had not only width and height, but depth. Bass was tight and punchy, very powerful even without any subwoofers.
The two tracks that literally made mine and my friend Alex's jaws drop were "Com'e Lunga L'attesta" and "Presto, su! Mario! Mario! Su, presto! Andiam!" from Tosca by Maria Callas. It's as if Maria was right in the room with us and when at the end the audience on the recording started applauding, Alex started looking around the room to see who was clapping!
Here are the other musical selections played by Peter:
Bach's Concerto for Piano and Orchestra Np. 5 in F mino BWV 1056: II. Largo by Glenn Gould
An die Musik, .547 by Elly Ameling
Darkness by Leonard Cohen
Bostich (Reflected) by Yello
Limit To Your Love by James Blake
Bach's Flute Sonats No.2 n E-Flat Major, BWV.1031: II. Siciliano by Gordon Fergus-Thompson
Firebird Suite (1919 version) by Chicago Symphony Orchestra
A very enjoyable event. Stay tuned for more events later this month.