Prices listed in CA$ except where otherwise noted.
Some demos blow away my expectations with their sound, and the Charisma room fell into that category. Aside from the fact Charisma Audio wasn’t well known to me, their speakers being demoed looked diminutive, so I expected sound to come out of them in, shall we say, a smaller format.
Boy, was I wrong. Along with the Capriccio Continuo Admonitor 311 bookshelf speakers ($8890), the system I auditioned included a Charisma Audio Musiko Junior turntable ($3350) equipped with a Musiko tonearm ($3750) and Signature Two MC cartridge ($7435), an Audio Exklusiv P2 MM/MC phono stage ($9440), a Kinki Studio CHoco Sound EMEI integrated amplifier (US$ 1882), a Giga Watt Powerprime power line conditioner with a PowerSync PLUS power cord ($4065), along with a Codia Acoustic Design stage equipment rack (US$ 3040), Charisma Audio Cabriolet speaker stands ($1570/pair), signal cables ($various) by Fono Acustica Legato, and power cables by Audio Exklusiv ($350/1.5m).
Items on static display, or that weren’t being used while I was there, included a Well Tempered Lab Amadeus Junior turntable ($5230 w/tonearm) coupled to a Charisma Audio low output MC Charm cartridge ($700), an Audio Space PRE-2 tube preamplifier with built-in MM/MC phono stage ($5410), and an Audio Space NOVA M-34 MKll tube monoblocs ($6070 for both).
If you can image the small Capriccio Continuo speakers as a video projector lens projecting a large, colourful, well-defined image on a projection screen, then you’ll get the gist of what this system could do. The sound that came out of these nearly point-source speakers was so not of a small format that as soon as I heard it I turned my head around toward Charisma’s representative seated in the corner and blurted: “I didn’t expect that!”
The soundstage was spacious and transparent, populated by sounds that were tactile, well-defined, and micro-dynamically explicit. Instrumental imaging, timbre, and tone were top notch. The system offered a clear-sky vista on the musical proceedings. At one point, I said to myself, “This system does it all!”