Before our alphabetical show coverage begins, I want to single out two rooms for best sounds. Just remember that such titular
bestowals are highly subjective. They'll be likely put into sharp relief by other reports whose writers fancied something different
altogether. C'est la vie. With my favorite room, I instantly got a very strong emotional response that proved unnervingly repeatable
each time I re-entered it - which happened about three or four times. While I'm usually suspicious of emotional reactions as unreliable,
phase-of-the-moon occurrences whose many contributing factors may have more to do with body chemistry and psychology than
"objective" aural sensations, this room triggered me in the same fashion each time I hunkered down. Hence I'll disregard the mental
alarm bells and simply tell you that the music here caused me to have literal out-of-body experiences. Why? I don't have the foggiest.
Regardless, for me, these weren't wild rides but full-blown astral trips, there in room 246 while other listeners were present. Joined at the
proverbial hip were Rethm Loudspeaker , deHavilland electronics and Prana Wire, the former a single-driver design which I had, er,
singled out at CES 2003, the latter (deHavilland and Prana Wire) a combination that, together with Alon, had lifted my Scottish-ancestry
kilt during HE2003.
Their system was comprised of a scrumptious Teres Audio Model 255 turntable [$2,575 - $2,975] with heavy lead-shot loaded acrylic
platter and exotic hardwood plinth; a TOC-from-hell Sony SACD player as transport; a French Metronome C-20 Signature DAC;
deHavilland UltraVerve octal preamp [$2,995]; deHavilland 60-watt GM-70 monoblocks [$9,995/pr] with dedicated transformers for the
B+ rails; and The Second Rethm [$6,480/pr] whose divided rear horn has the Lowther DX4's rear wave travel down 9' and 10.6' paths to
vent into the lateral ports. The Second's sensitivity of 98-102dB (depending on whether the Lowther DX3, DX4 or 8" Supravox drivers
are used) plus 45Hz extension made this combination of gear ultra-dynamic, utterly seamless and possessed of a gargantuan soundstage
But more importantly than all the checkered audiophile shopping cart goodies, this system communicated the emotional message of the
music in a very otherworldly fashion that was the aural equivalent of Starship Enterprise's beam-me-up area. Twisting Mr. Jacob's arm to
also hear the smaller Third Rethm [$4,180/pr with Lowther DX55], the overall tonal balance shifted upwards to give a leaner bass, even
more open midrange and sparklier highs. This was clearly a function of room size which, in this case and talking with the designer, was
slightly too large for the Third and not quite large enough for The Second. Regardless, the sonic non-signatures were very similar,
making the Rethm brand -- Sanskrit for Harmony-- a Lowther-based speaker design house which, unlike with most other Lowther brands,
I can not only enthusiastically get behind but which I'm keenly looking forward to review. Ditto for deHavilland electronics. Due to their
very stiff power supplies and high output voltages, John Potis with his less efficient Silverline and Magnepan speakers is the more suit-
able reviewer candidate here and has already been put into George's little black book. Trust me, John - that's a good thing.
With thanks to this crew -- for letting me abuse their patience with my own music --and compliments for a job exceedingly well done, in
a hotel room with suspended floors.
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