Just over 5 years ago I had what I described as a 2C HiFi epiphany after hearing a system that I thought could have been the best in the world. Here is the original post:https://forum.audiogon.com/discussions/2c-hifi-epiphany-worlds-best-system
Incredibly I have just had the same thing happen again with a completely different system! The first 2C HiFi epiphany was at a specialty audio store in The Hague (Netherlands) called Chattelin Audio. The store is now called “Listening Matters, High End Audio”. The new owner is Ben van Leliveld. In additional to the store, Ben owns and runs a specialty high end recording studio. On Saturday they had an all day pop in demonstration of this system:
Grimm MU1 - Music streamer, upsampling and running ROON
Mola Mola Tambaqui - Discrete DAC
Zanden 3100 - Pre amp
Zanden 120 - Phono pre amp
Zanden 8120 - Stereo power amp
Dr. Feickert Firebird - Turntable
Dr. Feickert Firebird Reed 2G - Tonearm
Dr. Feickert Firebird Ikeda 9TS - Cartridge
Kroma Audio Elektra - Loudspeakers
Cabling - A mixture of Transparent Audio Opus, Fututec NCF and LineFlux
With the exception of the Mola Mola DAC, I was completely unfamiliar with the above components/brands. Unlike my first HiFi epiphany in this store (Magico Q7 and Swiss Solution electronics, total system cost was approximately $500k), this system was less than half the price at approximately $230k. The star of the show for me were the Kroma Audio Elektra loudspeakers. These speakers are very large and weigh 175Kg each (385lbs) and contain 4 specially modified Scan Speak Revelator 6.5” mid-woofer units and 2 Hiquphone tweeters (front and rear facing). The speakers are made and designed in Spain and cost approximately $125k a pair. They look stunning with sound to match. Interestingly Kroma reveal very little about the design of the speakers, not even the crossover frequency or configuration. But, who cares they sound incredible. Here is a link to Kroma Audio:http://kromaaudio.com/elektra/
The system was being demonstrated using a mix of music genres from regular LPs and streamed audio from Qobuz. So how did it all sound? Quite simply breathtaking! I honestly thought I was listening to live music. I heard thunderous deep, tight and precise bass which I thought was coming from a sub-woofer, nope, it was coming from the 4 Scan Speak mid-woofer units and at an incredibly high volume with no sign of distress under any circumstances. Resolution, frequency response and sound stage were as precise as anything I have ever heard, my only comparison is live music. This system really is that good.
I am lucky enough to have attended both the Munich High End Show and Axpona (multiple times) and consequently have a good idea how good a no holds barred high end 2C system can sound. The system I heard above was up there with the very best, probably the best high end system I have ever heard?
It goes without saying all music formats used to demonstrate the above system sounded incredibly life like, interestingly analog (vinyl replay on the TT) sounded just as good as digital music. Equally warm, engrossing and stunningly lifelike. The two big music surprises were a 1960 RCA recording of Fever by Elvis Presley and J.J. Cale's After Midnight sung by Hanne Boel. The Elvis Presley recording was amazingly lifelike and spine tingling beautiful. And this is from someone who has never considered himself an ardent Presley fan. I had never heard of Hanne Boel before, she sounds a bit like Tina Turner. I can’t believe I am about to say this, her rendition of After Midnight was better the J.J. Cale’s. I am still in shock having said this. Definitely going to be hearing more of her music!
Full disclosure; I have no affiliation with either Listening Matters, High End Audio or store owner Ben van Leliveld. I just got lucky enough to hear one of the worlds best 2C HiFi systems, IMHO of course, while visiting my daughter and grandchildren in The Netherlands. The demonstration was incredibly well supported with local people and those from other countries. I suspect I was not the only American who attended the demonstration that day. To top it all, Ben is an incredibly knowledgable and thoroughly nice guy to discuss all things HiFi with.