Prices listed in US$.
I’m going to get this out of the way: Every time I visit a On a Higher Note exhibit room, I turn into a sap. I get wishy-washy. I can’t help it. There’s something about the systems that proprietor Philip O’Hanlon is able to put together that allows those systems to not just play back music, but deliver it in a way that invariably pulls on my heartstrings. It’s also probably why Philip has called his audio “road show” — he travels the world spreading his systems’ charms — “Midrange Magic”.
There certainly was plenty of magic midrange being made by the system at this show. On display were a Bergmann Audio Modi air bearing turntable and Modi air bearing, linear tracking tonearm ($17,000), a Grado Sonata 3 Timbre MM cartridge ($800), a pair of Graham Audio LS8/1F speakers ($11,500/pair), a MoonRiver 404 Reference integrated amplifier ($5,995), a MoonRiver 505 phono stage ($5,995), and Cardas Audio Clear cables, interconnects, and power cords.
Support for those products came from an Artesania Audio Prestige three-level rack ($5,800) and an Artesania Audio Krion turntable platform ($4,800).
What can I say? On tracks by artists Lady Blackbird and Fausto Mesolella, the sound was beguiling and affecting. Vocals sounded rich and living-and-breathing natural; notes sounded both weightless and substantial; tone was clear and pure. And perhaps for the first time in my life, I got the impression that the piano notes I was hearing deep into the soundstage not only launched sustains that sounded delicate and expressive, but were perfect in duration, neither too long nor too short. Just right.
I could’ve stayed in that room much longer than I did.