I recently booked an appointment to visit the Audioarts showroom on 5th Avenue. The proprietor, Gideon Schwartz, graciously welcomed me into the place which is divided into two spaces- one larger than the other. He led me into the smaller listening room with a single chair, then described the components of the system I faced. The first piece was the Jadis DA 88S Audioarts EL34 version, with which he specifies EL34 tubes from Jadis. He has found that the EL34 pentode tubes are superior in their lifelike output to 120's. It is a bold stance that would engender heated debate, but coming from him I got the sense that it wasn't braggadocio but rather a genuine desire to set the misguided onto the right path. The logic of this preference would later reveal itself. Aesthetically, the amp is gorgeous.
Next was the Thoress Phono Enhancer phono stage, visually nondescript compared to the dazzling Jadis, but looks are moot in this case. Replete with the full complement of phono equalization curves, it houses five NOS tubes, one PCC88, two 12SN7GT's and two PC86's. In a confidential tone, Gideon said that it outperformed more expensive phono stages and as a service to his customers (a few of which are heavy hitters in the recording industry) he finds only the creme de la creme in electronics, not the costliest. In fact, there is a trustable aura around Gideon, like with family sans family dynamics. His exuberance for his wares is infectious, superseding his role as salesman. In a twelve-year journey, he has practically circumnavigated the globe in a search for the best. In a moment, I'll reveal if he's succeeded.
Speakers. With the dizzying number of choices out there, you want a pair that are world class, so it's essential to get advice from someone whose knowledge and discernment are of that caliber. Could there be a pair of speakers that appeals to and satisfies all despite the warring opinions ? The Seidenton STB Alnico from Switzerland is definitely a contender. Its appearance is reminiscent of utilitarian Bauhaus design, all right angles and grey in color. What is unique about the stand-mounted, three-way Seidonton STB Alnico is the midrange driver employs an Alnico magnet, while the woofer's is neodymium. The combination of the two exploits the strong points of each in their respective duties. Gideon is immune to the hype of name brands because they fall short of their promise. His stock in trade is locating undiscovered treasures from around the world.
It was time to listen. The Linn LP 12 was now loaded with vinyl, and we heard a dozen selections ranging from Satchmo to Satie. What I quickly realized was, for the first time, there was nothing to criticize, find fault with or nitpick what arrived to my ears. Music. Pure, glorious music coming across in an acoustically perfect concert hall. With a Khachaturian symphony, I was superimposed onto the consciousness of the conductor. During a lilting passage in the upper register of a piano, both of us were moved by the incomparable moment. It soon dawned on me how this was happening. Gideon is a master of synergy. He combines components whose qualities are superb individually, but whose impact increase exponentially in unison. It's very difficult to achieve, like landing on a square meter-sized X from a parachute jump. I was enthralled by the nuanced detail and breathtaking realism.
Two hours went by in a flash, and I was back out again on 5th Avenue. An indelible memory imprinted on my auditory nerve, I wondered about acquiring the setup I just heard. Not really that far out of reach- less than the price of a Tesla, but able to take you to places far more gratifying.
Here's a client of Audioarts with his new gear: