By the end of day one I had been around and listened to all of the rooms I was assigned to cover, so my second day was about hearing as many rooms as possible and going back for a second listen in prior rooms to solidify my impressions. One thing that invariably happens when being part of a group is that people compare notes and recommend the “not to be missed,” rooms. So when I crossed paths with Eric Franklin Shook and he said, ‘C’mon I’m taking you to the Joseph Audio room, you’re gonna dig it.’, I was like a hungry dog following the scent of food to the kitchen.
The exhibitors had decided on a long wall placement which was less common in the other exhibit rooms, but I have to think some real time was into nailing the setup, because I was immediately blown away. The Joseph Audio Perspective2 Graphene tower speakers (a bargain at $15,000 pr USD) were powered by Doshi Audio’s V3.0 Stereo Amplifier ($20,000 USD) and V3.0 Line Preamplifier ($18,000 USD). Digital streaming was being handled by an Aurender W-20SE Network Streamer ($22,000 USD) feeding a Berkeley Audio Design Reference Series 3 DAC ($22,000 USD). Also in the mix was Doshi Audio’s Evolution Series Tape Preamplifier ($18,000 USD), used to amplify, and provide playback EQ to the signal coming from the quarter-inch head-stack in the Studer A810 reel to reel on display. Cardas Audio’s Clear Beyond series cabling rounded out the system.
Sitting in the sweet spot I found the sound to be sublime in every sense of the word. The system exuded reach-out-and-touch-it imaging, with rich organic textures, and very defined dynamic contrasts. Solid, tight bass. How had I not heard these Joseph Audio stunners before? And that was just the digital.
Nick Doshi and I talked for a bit about his tape playback electronics partially because I have a professional interest. Even as digital is the format of choice about 98% of the time, I’m lucky enough to still get a fair amount of mixes on half and quarter-inch magnetic tape in for mastering. My refurbished Ampex ATR-102 (thanks to ATR Serivce Company) sounds pretty great, but I’m always on the hunt for something better. Nick hit rewind on the Studer auto-locator and in a few seconds, I heard music from a tape source coming out of a system that was so good my brain shifted into a take my money now, mode. Liquid, smooth, warm, inviting, but also clean and detailed with the blackest of blacks between notes. Dang!
By Dave McNair
Editorial note: AudioHead welcomes mastering engineer Dave McNair to our editorial staff! Dave brings a wealth of experience in audio, both from the consumption and the production side. Dave has worked alongside many well known artists in his main gig and his perspective from both sides of the table brings a most welcome color to the AH palette.