Ghost in the Machine.

Two weeks ago I helped a friend audio dealer to unpack and install the only Solstice TT arrived in Italy. It joined NAC552, NAP500DR, SuperLumina cabling and Canton Reference 1K speakers. About 50 sq. mt., professionally treated acoustics.

(Yesterday he hosted a public demo of the system with Focal Maestro Utopia EVOs, but I prefer the Cantons - more open and natural, for 1/3rd of the Focals’ price).

I must say that not only I had never heard vinyl sound so good - an easy guess, given the level of the system - but I think I have never heard reproduced music sound so good. Since 1966, when my dad brought our first stereo compact turntable home, I have had and heard a lot of audio gear; when I say a lot you can trust me. Yet, this was a unique experience. I hadn’t been a vinyl guy for about 20years and have resumed listening to LPs with a rega P2, a small Teac AH-R300 integrated and Triangle Comète speakers for a couple of years. Meanwhile, I have heard everything under the sun. But this combination of technical proficiency and musical satisfaction cannot be equaled by anything else in my memory.

I don’t know - someone might remark that I don’t have experience of, say, a full monty Linn Sondek, a Continuum Labs Caliburn, the Naiad; someone observed that the Naim is expensive - with an onboard very fine cartridge, a phono-preamp and a power supply for the set? I haven’t heard everything. But this has been perhaps the first time I have truly caught the musical meaning of a recording.

I’ve heard some impressive playback at RSCH’s place, with CD555 and a full 500/SuperLumina/S-600s set, but it was mainly due to volume and the emotional impact of some CDs; furthermore, I am no great fan of the S-600s; here, I was struck by the beauty, the delicacy, the perfect trueness of Clifford Curzon’s touch while playing Mozart’s Kv595 Concerto, of Benjamin Britten’s sensitive conducting. It indeed was like listening to humans, a bit.

I sometimes watch Bosch on TV, enjoying the hours when he plays jazz LPs on his vintage tube system with, I believe, Ohm omnidirectional speakers in his amazing living room with three sides of windows on the LA landscape; and I think I’d gladly give my soul to Satan to have that for some time. Actually, it’s all about letting oneself go to the music. Naim TT has helped me letting myself go to the music like nothing else before. I envy those who need much less to have the same experience; for me it was a matter of discovering technical supreme smartness too.

A cheaper Clearaudio would do? Peut-être, I doubt it. The set was quasi €104.000: not even for when I’ll have my liquidazione. It was the supreme trick, an illusion of perfect beauty. Ghost in the machine perhaps; I’ve truly, sincerely loved it.



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