Kronos, Nagra and Graham Audio – AXPONA 2017

by Rafe Arnott

David Michael Audio out of Royal Oak, Michigan is probably someone you’d want to visit if you’re in the Detroit area, and looking for help putting together a system. At Axpona this room featured an eclectic mix of gear that worked together beautifully, and seemed built to highlight each section’s strength as the signal path wended it’s way from source to transducer. While I was in the room everything was starting out with what is one of my favourite cost-no-object turntables – the Kronos Pro ($38,000 USD). Here it was kitted out with a Kronos tonearm ($8,500 USD) and Transfiguration Proteus cartridge ($6,000 USD) being fed into a bevy of Swiss audio goodness in the form of Nagra electronics: VPS phono stage ($7,300 USD), Classic Preamp ($18,500 USD), Classic DAC ($15,800 USD), and a pair of Classic Amps ($15,500 each), running in mono mode, all of which was getting juiced by a Nagra MPS (Multiple Power Supply – $5,840 USD). This was a very transparent, clear, and articulated sound with plenty of bottom-end oomph courtesy of the Kronos.

While the Graham Audio LS5/8 ($13,000 USD) may not have the tightest bottom end, it’s warmth, (a bit of the pipe and slipper here) and breathtakingly human midrange offered an appreciable balance to what the Kronos, and Nagra gear were passing along the Kubala-Sosna cabling that was sewing everything together. One of the interesting things about the BBC-derived LS5/8 from Graham is the ability to adjust the crossover curve of the upper frequencies via jumpers mounted directly on the speaker’s front baffle. The thing is, it’s not for punters like you, and I to fuss with after we’ve had a few, and decide things need adjustment – which is what I’d previously thought – but after careful inspection of the owner’s manual it turns out that these jumpers are only to be touched by technicians at the factory, and are to “account for minor variations in sensitivity between the two drive units,” and “will not need adjusting during the life of the loudspeaker. Do not attempt to alter this setting yourself.”

Good to know.

Overall I found this is to be a very entertaining-sounding room that featured a mix of manufacturers that I’ve not seen put together in this way before, and which further cemented in my mind that this hobby, and all the tinkering that it engenders from it’s enthusiasts is alive, and well, and in no fear of becoming a homogenized, dictated process. Chaos reigns supreme still, and the out-of-the-box thinking that David Michael Audio displayed in curating the system they brought to Chicago showed that there are many surprises still to be had at audio shows, and for that I’m grateful.


2 thoughts on “Kronos, Nagra and Graham Audio – AXPONA 2017

  • I hate monolith statement systems and prefer the BBC outlook. A fleshed out middle with great focus at a reduced overall SPL. Music can be enjoyed at the same viscerally emotional levels without the ear bludgeoning.

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