by Rafe Arnott
There are a number of hifi manufacturers that you can always count on for outstanding reproduction of the analog signal path, but usually not regardless of ancillary gear. A system must work well together, and I think many a burgeoning audiophile makes the amateur mistake of buying components one-off without really analyzing, consulting, or understanding how important system synergy, or its Gestalt, is to a traditional two-channel hifi.
Brinkmann Audio and Ayre Acoustics are two of my favorite companies in their respective fields. Wilson Audio loudspeakers – because of their incredibly transparent nature, and because the better the transducer, the more their sound is directly affected by what they’re being fed – I also greatly enjoy, but they need proper ‘food’ in my humble opinion. Synergy. The right amplification, and source can greatly affect them.
I was quite happy to see the little Wilson Sabrina ($15,900 USD) being intravenously fed by the Brinkman Bardo ‘table (approx. $12,000 USD with tonearm) kitted with the lovely Kiseki Purpleheart ($3,500 USD), and the Ayre AX-5 Twenty integrated amplifier ($12,000 USD) at Rocky Mountain Audio Festival in the Crescendo Audio room. Digital duties were handled by the QX-5 Twenty digital hub ($8,950 USD). Connecting everything together looked to be Cardas Clear Beyond interconnects and speaker cables.
This room was more than a little sleepy in my books when I wandered in, with a person running the vinyl rig who I was told “was filling in…” which is a shame because Ayre, Brinkmann, Wilson, and Cardas are all kickass manufacturers who need to have their name better known outside traditional two-channel audiophile circles.
This type of system screams for more exposure, as if it was intended to be shared with others, to create a shared experience. The components play nice together because they were matched up specifically for this show to highlight their strengths. Strengths they would individually, and as a whole, bring to any well thought out home system.