I recently got the opportunity to hear the North American premiere of the dCS Vivaldi digital playback system at Ears Nova. It’s a 4 box, no nonsense, no compromise system that leaves no digital stone unturned. It was the heart of the system, and it’s $135,000.
Other notables were the Altair speakers from Rockport Technologies. It weighs around 515lbs each. You can’t really appreciate their size until you see it from the side in person. It costs $97,500 a pair.
Driving the Altair speakers were Centaur 500 Watt monoblock amplifiers from Constellation Audio. They are $48,000 a pair.
There was also a Basis Audio Signature turntable, with a Vector 4 tonearm in the room, but the focus was on the dCS Vivaldi stack, which was very impressive. Once you add in the cost of the preamp, phono-stage, power supplies, cabling, racks and everything else there, you’re inching close to half a million bucks. Obviously, this isn’t the stereo for most people.
The sheer immense cost of a no nonsense system, as jarring as it may seem, wasn’t that big a deal to me. I see and hear uber systems all the time. I won’t opine about the fidelity (Do you really care? To say the market for this is exclusive would be an understatement). That should be something you decide for yourself with your own ears. However, I will say that dCS is the real deal, and they have been at the forefront of digital audio for a long time. The true highlight for me was listening to the engineers themselves. Once you start talking to the dCS engineers, you truly become humbled at the level of expertise they possess. These guys are geniuses of the highest order. Being around people like this highlights how little you know about a lot of things. It’s good to hang around scientists, engineers and anyone else far smarter than you. If you listen to digital audio, innovations people like them have made along the way has trickled down to your device, from DAC technology, to everything else in between, at all price points. From $135k digital playback systems, to your $250 iPod. For that, I am thankful.
(Source: Flickr / atane)