Music Matters 9 - Seattle
Offering brief opinion and looking for other feedback on Music Matters event last night at Definitive Audio's store on Roosevelt in north Seattle. I attended briefly and made it into the ARC -Wilson-AMG and the B&W-Classe rooms.
Overall the event was well attended as usual. Good "refreshments" and a decent selection of gear to preview. Times for the listening room seatings were staggered so it made it a little easier to make your way around the venue. Some of the room seating was marginal at best for demoing gear, but understandable given the number of us there to listen.
One thing I especially appreciate is the opportunity to listen to gear at this event that is brand new, some of it betas not even for sale yet. This was the case with both the rooms I attended.
ARC-Wilson-AMG: this room had the new Sasha 2's, AMG turntable with Benz cartridge, new ARC digital front end fed by a Mac Pro, the SP20 pre and the Reference 75, 75wpc ARC tube amp. Transparent cabling throughout.
General sound of this system was fast, articulate, grain-free. The treble in particular deserves special mention. The first cut played on the AMG was a 70s Decca recording of a Paganini violen concerto that had some soaring violen playing and a bell that was parlor trick clear. I have never heard anything like it. Peter McGrath from Wilson demoed an electronic cut that presented a wall of sound that went way beyond both the speakers and the room walls for that matter, and had some bass notes that plumbed the abyss. A shout out to the ARC amp here. It never seemed strained, music flowed out of it, not tubey, not etched, just right. If there was one fly in the ointment here, it is that the system sounded a little "tight", like some additional run-in of all the components in place would add additional value. My seating position was center, three rows of chairs back, pretty good.
In the B&W-Classe room I did not have such a good seat, front left outside the left speaker, so no real ability to judge soundstage. The gear in this room was a pair of CM10's, a new Classe multi channel processor that is slated to go out at about half the price of their flagship model, and a new 200wpc switching amp that is also meant to be more affordable than their top level gear. The source was a Mac Pro running iTunes, and all the cables were from Transparent. I was very curious to hear the CM10, as I have been a fan of the rest of that series for some time.
I have to spend some time on the cut and volume selection made here, because it can really make or break a demo. The first piece demoed by the B&W rep was "Blackbird" performed by Al Dimeola on acoustic guitar. In short, it was TOO LOUD, obscuring the natural dynamics and phrasing of the instrument, the player and the system. Nuts. The next cut was "Royals" by Lorde. I love this pop anthem, but it is a selection I would chose for riding through Beverly Hills with the top down on my rented Chrysler, not for use to demo high mid to low-hi fi gear at a show. It sounded decent, but no window into the systems ability. The next piece was from the Red Hot Chili Peppers. It sounded great except Flea's bass was not getting along with the room. The Classe rep took over the controls and played a cut with Buddy Guy on solo guitar at an appropriate volume this time and the system started to shine. Good treble and air for a switching amp, and more of what I expected from the CM10's. The final cut played was a raucous piece "Nef" from Trombone Shorty that was loud and near perfectly recorded. Even from my side seating position, the speed and precision of the drums and horns were startling, no bass overhang, just right. Two thumbs up.
While some of this may sound negative, I offer it to be constructive. I LOVE this event, and appreciate Definitive and the manufacturers for hosting and demonstrating there latest gear.
Curious if other folks attended and what you heard and liked?