By Rafe Arnott
I’m not sure how many of those people reading this article have set foot near a high-fidelity trade show, but if you have then you’ll understand what I’m talking about when I reference how dark the rooms which exhibitors show in are.
I mean dark. Like, almost pitch black.
If you’ve not been to one of these somewhat strange conventions, then it may sound odd to picture thousands of older, or middle-aged men sitting next to one another singly, in pairs, or huddled in small groups together in almost utter darkness while music is being played specifically for them.
It can conjure some strange mental vignettes as one tries to imagine just what this whole process looks like: Men file into, and out of dark, dimly-lit rooms with special LPs, CDs, or digital-audio songs being played for them – to woo them in a way, to stay longer in the dark with a certain manufacturer who is trying to reach them through song.
It was one such room that kept me sitting in the darkness for awhile at AXPONA.
Scott Walker Audio had paired up with Synergistic Research in the Schaumburg D ballroom to bring a fairly big, badass system to heel for show goers in Chicago.
Consisting of a Berkely Alpha DAC, and Baetis Reference 2 digital front end, (and a large Reel-to-Reel that wasn’t in use while I was in the room) a Constellation Audio Pictor preamplifier, and Centaur power amplifier paired with Magico S5 MKII loudspeakers, being fed by a Synergisitic Research PowerCell 12 UEF SE power conditioner, and strung up like a Christmas tree with Synergistic Research cabling, this was a big, fast, punchy sound with an emphasis on resolution, and dominating lower-mids, and bass.
That’s not say there was suffering up top, but what I was feeling was an emphasis more to the sound in the midrange, and bottom end – again, without treble sacrifice. Perhaps it was the new Magico cone material being used in the S5 MK IIs 10-inch bass drivers, tweeter, and mid-bass driver with their claimed 300 per-cent increase in stiffness… whatever it was I was really enjoying the drive, and lower-end energy this system was producing. Instruments, and vocals possessed a detailed, articulate sound, and percussion, and brass had bite to their presentation. Those pistonic drivers in their inert enclosures were being kept on a short lease by the big Constellation iron in charge of amplification duties, as I find that Magico possess speaker designs that love them some watts (250 watts in the case of the Centaur Stereo power amp here), and real rail voltage.
In the end it seems that Scott Walker, and Synergisitc reached me through the darkness after all, and considering the number of people around me in that darkness, I certainly wasn’t alone.