TAF2023: Goldmund, Entreq, Crystal Cable, Kalista, Thiele, Karan Acoustics, Tidal Audio, Critical Mass Systems, Fono Acustica

TAF2023: Goldmund, Entreq, Crystal Cable, Kalista, Thiele, Karan Acoustics, Tidal Audio, Critical Mass Systems, Fono Acustica


Wynn Wong with some of his products

Prices listed in CA$.

There are few exhibits at an audio show that immediately elicit a sense of prestigious luxury. Wynn Audio, which has Swarovski-style jewelry cases displaying some of the  highest quality audio products, had definitely one of those exhibits.

The company had two systems on active demo this year. Wynn of Wynn Audio explained, “Visitors had asked to hear a particular static demo at past shows, so this year we made it possible to hear that system”. That system consisted of a Goldmund Eidos Reference SACD player ($280,000), a Goldmund Mimesis 37S NextGen preamplifier ($44,500), a pair of 285W Goldmund Telos 440 monoblocs ($42,500 ea.), and a pair of standmount Goldmund Tethys loudspeakers ($88,000/pair). Also in the system were a set of Entreq Olympus Infinity T grounding boxes and a bevy of Crystal Cable wires.

On a selection of CDs, including XRCDs, this system delivered sound possessed of natural warmth, realistic tone, intimate presence, and dynamic subtlety. I’m sure those who finally got to hear it were as pleased as I was by the experience.

The second system consisted of a Kalista DreamPlay XC CD/SACD network player ($100,000), a Thiele TT01 turntable with TA01 tonearm ($41,500 for both), a Karan Acoustics PHONOa phono stage ($51,000), a Karan Acoustics LINEa / PSUa preamplifier ($55,000), two Karan Acoustics POWERa monoblocs ($145,000 ea.), and a pair of ultra beautiful Tidal (unrelated to the streaming service) Akira loudspeakers ($358,000/pair), along with a complement of Critical Mass Systems Olympus component racks and stands, Entreq Pluton and Olympus Infinity grounding boxes, and Fono Acustica cabling ($various).

The back wall, draped in a gold curtain, set the tone for this surreal musical experience. Despite the Tidal Akira towers having arrived shortly before the show, the treble around vocals sounded clean, airy, and spacious. The center image was tightly focused and floated above the rack of equipment. The Jim Keltner Drum track that was played revealed the tremendous level of detail this system was capable of extracting. As a drummer myself, I could hear the pedal sound before the impact of the bass drum. The attack and impact of the sound felt as if real drums were inside the room. The Thiele turntable presented a cello and guitar track, “Apollo” by artists Daniel and Carey Domb, with rich tone, abundant detail, and deep-view transparency. Instruments appeared well-drawn and solidly focused within the soundstage. It was a phenomenal sonic performance.

It was also one of my Top 3 best-sounding systems at the show. If you ever get an opportunity to hear it, even if you can’t afford it, take it. You won’t regret it.

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