Common Wave Hi-Fi is a unique venture in that it is both an audio showroom and social listening space. Located in downtown L.A., Common Wave also dedicated a portion of its space to function as a record shop along with holding events monthly music events and movie nights. It’s all about reaching out to the larger community interests, while including hi-fi into the mix. With forty-four true hi-fi brands in their stable of product lines, I doubt Common Wave will have many problems pairing each new customer with the perfect system that fits their current needs.
At T.H.E. SHOW 2019, it was Common Wave that had us crowding the seats on Saturday to get a listen to their system. Featuring the Harbeth Super HL5 Plus (starting at $7,495 pr USD) monitors, each being a three-way loudspeaker in a vented enclosure. The pair fed from a NAGRA Classic Amp ($16,995 USD) stereo amplifier, Classic Preamp ($17,595 USD), and Classic Tube DAC ($29,000 USD), and NAD M50.2 ($3,999 USD). On the analog side, it was a NAGRA VPS Valve Phono Stage (starting at $6,645 USD) being helmed by a Pear Audio Blue Kid Thomas ($7,995 USD) turntable with Cornet 2 Tonearm and Ortofon Cadenza Black cartridge. The turntable uses and external power supply for an additional cost ($1,995 USD). Power conditioning for the whole system was provided by Shunyata Research, and curated from their Hydra series. Cabling was also from Shunyata and pulled from their Sigma series. TonTräger provided the speakers stands for the Harbeths, and come in at $1,569 pr USD.
We toured mostly through records during my listening time in the room, and only moved over to digital when it came time to make a quick upgrade to the system in the form of a turntable platform and Pneupods from Pneuance Audio which are as you might have guessed, filled with air, and use a precision pump for leveling and setting up your turntable with the right amount of damping and bounce. The exercise in adding that extra damping yielded remarkable results.
As of this show in Long Beach, I think the Super HL5 Plus might be my favourite small Harbeth loudspeaker. It’s three-way design and favorable bass to my ear take the whole package to a height sonically that few detractors can scoff at. For the money, I also find them to be one of the better values. Good show!
by Eric Franklin Shook