- Written by John E. Johnson, Jr.
- Published on 13 November 2007
For the listening tests, I used a McIntosh MCD201 SACD player, BAT VK-5i preamplifier, and McIntosh MC1201 power amplifiers. Cables were Legenburg and Nordost.
If there is a Maurice Ravel piece that just about everyone is familiar with, even if you are not a fan of classical music, it is "Bolero" (this particular recording is Telarc SACD-60601). It starts out so soft, you wonder if your audio system is even turned on.
Then, it builds and builds, until the finality of every instrument in the orchestra blasting away about as loud as they can.
What I listened for was any degradation in instrument separation (being able to distinguish the various instruments) as more and more instruments joined in, and the music became louder.
There was no change, and the tympani were nice and tight right down to the very end.
John Pizzareilli has a very interesting trio, as there is only the guitar, bass, and piano (no drums). He sings while mostly playing rhythm on his guitar. It lets one really hear the various instruments along with a baritone voice. Of course, they have to play like mad to make up for no percussion, but it works.
In this two-disc Telarc SACD package (2SACD-63577), what I looked for was the piano and rhythm guitar not mushing each other up, and that was what I got. The beryllium tweeter goes all the way down to 2 kHz, and this made the transients of the piano strings and Pizarelli's guitar really just jump into my lap.
Also, John's baritone singing voice was beautifully reproduced. No boominess or chestiness, nor was there any tizziness (a 6 kHz problem).
I am not necessarily a big Richard Strauss fan, but this recording (Telarc SACD-60661) is really something. I suppose it has at least a little bit to do with the fact that Telarc does not compress their recordings, and this one is SACD.
In "Fruhling" (one track from Four Last Songs), Christine Brewer's soprano voice was just spectacular. I could sense the breath as well as the notes, which is due to the very light weight beryllium.
This recording (Telarc SACD-60592) has all kinds of artists, not the least of which is The Manhattan Transfer, and songs like "Stompin' at the Savoy".
The disc just cooks!
I cranked it up so that the MC1201s were reading an average output of about 120 watts. No harshness, no audible distortion.
These speakers are truly some of the very best I have ever heard. I am sorry I have had to wait so long to get my hands on some with these beryllium tweeters. They make a tremendous difference.