Industry veteran P.J. Zornosa and Vancouver, BC turntable designer John Stratton brought a compact system that made sublime sounds to one of Axpona’s smaller rooms.
Stratton’s Pure Fidelity Harmony turntable ($9095) features an ultra MDF plinth, 48mm Delrin platter, an aircraft grade aluminum/stainless steel subplatter, built-in aluminum isolation platform, IsoAcoustics Gaia IV footers, CNC-machined parts, and Pure Fidelity’s Maestro speed controller. Pure Fidelity’s Illustrious SE MC cartridge (included) with Origin Live Zephyr tonearm ($1595) were also in use. The table’s Quilted Maple finish was a knockout.
Zornosa produced a Bel Canto e1X integrated amplifier ($8000; 180Wpc into 8 ohms, 250Wpc into 4 ohms, with integrated DAC, streamer, and MM/MC phono stage), and the Danish Audiovector R3 Arreté loudspeakers (a specified sensitivity of 90.5dB and impedance of 8 ohms) in Piano Rosewood finish ($14,950/pair). Cardas Audio cables including Clear Beyond speaker cable, Cardas Clear Power cables, and Nautilus Power Conditioner. A Harmonic Resolution Systems RXR Audio Stand completed the system.
This was yet another setup that made me forget the mechanics, time, and place, and simply indulge in the music. Stratton had an original pressing of vocalist Michael Frank’s 1975 debut masterpiece, The Art of Tea. This wonderful recording featured an amazing lineup: Franks, vocals; Michael Brecker and David Sanborn, saxophones; Joe Sample, keyboards; Larry Bunker, vibraphone; Larry Carlton, guitar; Wilton Felder, bass, and John Guerin, drums. Mixed by the great Al Schmitt; recorded by Lee Hershbrook, Bruce Botnick, and Schmitt; mastered by Doug Sax—The Art of Tea was an audiophile record before there were audiophile records. A sublime performance and recording.
The Pure Fidelity/Bel Canto/Audio Vector system disappeared and let this epic recording shine. The Art of Tea is very natural sounding with zero effects; it’s a true flat sounding recording on par with any Contemporary disc. And the rig framed it perfectly. Transparency, tone-fulness, imaging, clarity, with a comfy low-end.