Happy New Year, everyone! I hope 2018 brings health, prosperity & good will to all!
Here’s a 4th quarter 2017 “wrap-up” from Triode Wire Labs…
I was participating in TWO rooms at CAF – in Room 316 with BorderPatrol and Volti Audio… a review by Stereophile’s Art Dudley here… “In the Volti Audio/BorderPatrol/Triode Wire Labs room, I was entertained by a system built around the Volti Rival loudspeakers ($7900/pair and up, depending on finish), the demonstration pair of which so impressed an opening-day customer that he bought them on the spot. Also in the system were BorderPatrol’s DAC SE D/A processor ($1350), used in tandem with a CD transport whose name I didn’t catch, and P21EXD power amplifier ($13,500), which uses two 300B triodes per channel in push-pull for 20Wpc. All cabling was by Triode Wire Labs, including their Spirit analog interconnects ($349/1m pair) and Spirit 75 S/PDIF digital cable.
This system charmed me with Madeleine Peyroux’s “J’ai deux amours,” her voice full-bodied and present, the double bass and twin acoustic guitars put across with very good tone and touch. And when a showgoer brought in his copy of Skip, Hop & Wobble by Jerry Douglas, Edgar Meyer, and the great flatpicker Russ Barenberg (the latter from the ’70s band Country Cooking, which also gave the world Tony Trischka and Pete Wernick), and we listened to the fiddle tune “The Big Sciota,” I was bowled over by the system’s great sense of drive. A darned good way to end my Friday.”
Some additional feedback from Dagogo’s Richard Austen on the Best Sounding Rooms at Capital AudioFest… ““Volti Audio Revival Horn Speakers/Border Patrol/CEC/Triode Wire Labs. Big bold open sound and a whole lot of toe tapping. The speakers are gorgeous and reasonably priced at $7900 in basic finish. CEC’s belt drive transport wasn’t even mentioned but this company is still going and are reasonably priced. Again CD sounded better in this room than from other sources. There is a degree of wetness and transparency here than stands with any other room even in a less than ideal set-up.”
Also, TWL teamed up with GT Audio Works & Sound Insights in the large Frederick Room at CAF. Here’s some BEST of SHOW feedback from AVNirvana… “I’m feeling a tad impatient today, so I’m flipping the standard script and kicking things off with my favorite find at CAF 2017. Mind you, the word “best” is loaded with subjectivism and caveats, especially when it comes to sound. But for my money, GT Audio Works and its magnificent GTA3R Planar/Ribbon Speakers ($12,000/pair), which were matched with Sound Insight’s dual SI 600 Open Baffle Subwoofers ($17,000), graciously slid into home for the win.
I’ve had the pleasure of knowing GT Audio Works’ Greg Takes for several years, first meeting him as he demoed his GTA2.5 speakers at CAF several moons ago. Take one look into the man’s eyes and you can see both audio passion and total sincerity. And take one listen to his handmade large-panel creations, and you’ll be left stunned with amazement.
Takesh’s six-foot tall GTA3R utilizes a full range planar driver (72-in x 10-in) and an accompanying ribbon tweeter (72-in x ½-in) to deliver playback from 40Hz – 30kHz with amazing efficiency (92 dB). And when paired with dual Sound Insight SI 600 open baffle subwoofers (six 12” drivers each, performance to 16Hz), the system’s articulate punch and depth is downright ridiculous.
This entire system (speakers and subs) can be purchased for $29K, making it a relative bargain when compared to its high-end competition. By my math, the speakers’ supporting cast of Pass Labs pre-amps and monoblocks (not to mention Triode Wire Labs power cords, cables, and interconnects, an Esoteric K01x SACD player, an Acoustic Signature Triple X Turntable, and a Vu Jade Audio tubed DAC ) pushed the room’s total system value just south of $200K. But I wouldn’t be surprised to find that more budget oriented buyers could purchase the GTA3Rs separately and usher wickedly beautiful sound into their homes for significantly less.
The GTA3R is built to order, which means the speaker’s wood and finish are all customizable. Considering that it essentially looks like a wood framed cloth panel (high quality craftsmanship, mind you), the speaker is somewhat unremarkable in its appearance. But its sound (oh that AMAZING sound) is what you’re paying for. And let me tell you, they sound stunningly beautiful, presenting a massive and highly detailed soundstage that’s punctuated by serious depth.
And clarity? It’s all there, folks.
Clarity, balance, and natural tonality.
This speaker is, bar none, the best speaker you’ve never heard, and I challenge anyone to find another $12,000 speaker that can touch its class.
Bold words? Yes.
But my ears have fallen in love with GT Audio Work’s creations and this year’s showing at CAF was simply spectacular. Do yourself a favor: visit Greg Takesh (or his Long Island, NY dealer: Sound Insight High End Audio) for a private demo. And if you live outside the New York area, read his website’s offer for guests that need to fly to his location (it takes the notion of rolling out the red carpet to an entirely new level).”
Some additional feedback from Enjoy The Music’s Greg Weaver…
““I’d seen photos of the Sound Insight SI 600 open baffle subs ($12,000/pr.), as long-time audio pal, Rich Hollis, of Hollis Audio Labs, had shared the building and assembly of his set. But this was my first listen to this astonishing sub. Pairing the GT Audio Works GRA3R planar/ribbons ($17,000) with the SI 600’s, yielded a highly pleasing result in the Frederick Room.
Using an Esoteric K-01x SACD player ($20,000), the Pass Labs XS linestage ($38,000), XS phono stage ($45,000), and XA 60.8 monos, all connected with Triode Wire Labs cables, this system really got into the music. Bass impact was exceptional, mids were fast and clean, while upper frequency extension was airy and full of sparkle and detail. Though lacking slightly in harmonic bloom and instrumental body, this system was articulate, with remarkable transparency and resolution.”
Finally, “Best of Show” feedback from AVShowrooms & Enjoy The Music’s Kemper Holt here…
“The Frederick room this year pushed Greg Takesh’s GT Audio Works GTA 3R Planar/Ribbon loudspeakers ($12,000/pr) to the top of the best sounding, yet least known about category. In combination with Steve Rabitz’ Sound Insight SI 600 Open Baffle subwoofers ($17,000/pr) featuring six 12″ woofers per channel driven by a servo amplifier the room really sang, on the weekend that is. If you listened Friday you got about 60% of what this system was capable of dishing out. They worked on the room before daybreak early Saturday morning adding room treatments and re-positioning the speakers with superb results.
Greg builds each 3R to customer’s finish requests, here finished in an automobile gray paint, I prefer the Sapelle wood finish on my GTA 2.5s, but Greg can finish them however you want. Taking out the powered cone woofers he had in the GTA 2.5s gave Greg the room to extend the full range planar and ribbon tweeter to 72″ long, the planar is 10″ wide allowing it to reach 40 Hz driven full range without any crossover in front of it, and the true ribbon at 0.5” wide with only a single capacitor in the path. The secret sauce is Greg’s use of neodymium magnets allowing the 3R to achieve a 92dB/W/m sensitivity, and it lets the speaker deliver tremendous dynamics with little effort, 60 Watts were used here and it could get easily very loud on peaks.
Speaking of “only” 60 Watts driving the 3Rs, Steve brought a Pass Labs suite of kit to Rockville, Pass Labs XS Preamp ($38,000), Pass Labs XS Phono Preamp ($45,000), and Pass Labs XA 60.8 monoblock amplifiers ($13,500/pr). A Vu Jade Audio Tube DAC ($9,995) handled digital, an Acoustic Signature Triple X turntable ($5,995), TA 1000 tonearm ($1,995), and Dynavector XX2 cartridge ($1,950) delivered vinyl playback.
The King of affordable cabling, Triode Wire Labs’ Pete Grzybowski had TWL cables doing everything. Pete’s legendary power cords were plugged into all the equipment, using The Silver Statement ($1,199) High Power Digital American ($699) and Digital American ($499) where appropriate. The best buy American Speaker Cables ($699) Spirit interconnects ($349/pr) and Spirit Split Power and Data USB cable ($329) connected the signal paths. Kanso Harmoni 3ST/5S equipment racks ($11,368) supported the gear.
Sunday I spent 90 minutes here listening to all my music and letting Steve play cuts he thought really let the system shine. The system checked off all the audiophile boxes, electrostatic like transparency combined with huge dynamics, completely disappearing speakers, voices perfect focus/size/height, and room pressurizing bass with ease. A jazz album, The Alternate Blues, with Dizzy, Clark, Freddie, and Oscar sounded like I was at a club, the trumpet had startling dynamics and proper bite, piano clear and real sounding, drum kit impact was palpable yet delicate brush work easily heard, I just closed my eyes and let the music take me there. Eva Cassidy’s “Ain’t No Sunshine” showcased her beautiful voice, and let me hear the vocal intonations and phrasing that makes her a joy to listen to. The only other room I enjoyed more was across the Atrium and was valued at $1,500,000 USD. I heard all my favorites and really wanted to relax and let the tunes wash over me, or pummel me if they had low end sock because this room delivered it all.
The pairing of a planar speaker with an Open Baffle subwoofer is the perfect idea and carried out to perfection here. Without boxes, there is no boxy coloration, and the OB bass is stupendous. The bass never got “caught out”, no boom or room overloading, upright bass plucks sounded real, string and the wood body resonating with no overhang just tight real sounding bass, and with twelve 12″ woofers plenty of impact and the ability to pressurize the room when called upon. If you like what planars do for music, you need to get to Greg’s or Steve’s place in NY and audition this system, and you will be very pleased you made the trip. In an after show discovery one of the woofer towers had a wiring snafu which slightly diminished the impact, so it could have been even better, next year should be great.”