The new top-of-the-line Halcro $40K DM88 monoblocks,
driving very sensitive $18K T-3 project Classic Audio Reproductions horn
speakers, with EMM Labs / Meitner Design* up front on a new HRS* MX-R equipment
rack. Shunyata* cables, Hydra 6 power distributor and power cords.
This was - uh - very dynamic
and very-loud - but in a melodic, very-impressive and not in an
ear-ringing fashion. In other words - you gotta hear this!
We went back and played our test CD, Radiohead Amnesiac, on the
4th and last day, actually a few minutes before closing so (as Peter
Quortrup so fatalistically reminded us, the systems at a show are
sounding their best immediately before they are turned off, torn down
and handed to the UPS and FedEX guys) the system was at its best.
This did not have the same problems as the Wilson Maxx 2 / Lamm system
or the Kharma Midi Exquisite / ASR system. The imaging and separation
were pretty good - though not 100%. It was played too loud to get a real
evaluation - loading the room a little much on certain passages - but
what was missing was the finesse and delicacy and spatial and timing
queues that is almost certainly the speakers not being resolving enough
(you get what you pay for - and you get a LOT for your $18K here, but
you don't get EVERYTHING).
There was also a lack of
emotion - a problem often attributed to the older Halcro amplifiers -
but it wasn't all THAT different from the neutralness of the ASR with
the sexy Midi Exquisites, or the hypnotizing Lamm ML2.1 with the cool
Wilson Maxx II.
And to further cement this opinion that was forming
in our frontal lobes that the new Halcros were actually better in the
musicality dept., we played our test CD on the Atma-sphere amps on the
same speakers. The Halcros had MORE emotion and more harmonic content.
OK, they had different sources too, the Halcro having the Meitner
(though not exactly musical, more like 'truth'). [For some reason I did
not take pictures of the Atma-sphere system... Doh!]
Anyway, with speaker positioning and other tweaks (though not as
tweakable as most systems as this was pretty tweaked out already, given
circumstances), this could be a system that would be fun to live with
and would provide most of what the very high-end offers -
plus some macro dynamics that most very high-end systems do not have.