AT A GLANCE
Rockna Wavedream Enhanced Network Transport (2 TB): R165 000.00
Rockna Wavedream DAC Signature XLR version: R268 000.00
Mola Mola Makua Pre-amp: R149 900.00
Halcro Eclipse Monoblocks: R1 300 000.00 (for a pair)
Vivid Audio Giya G1 Spirit (bespoke colour ): R1 395 000.00 (for the pair)
Innuos Phoenix Net (network audio switch): R55 000.00
Isol-8 Substation LC (Low current power conditioner): R94 000.00
Atlas Cable interconnects: R60 000.00
(all prices include VAT)
This is a follow up piece – at R3,486M there is no doubt that this is the high-end of matters stereo audio and worthy of a few more words… We’ve included the pricing for reference.
Hugo and I spent some more time with this system that we mentioned a week or so ago. It finds itself at Nxgen Digital Audio in its massive listening room in Wynberg. On paper this looks pretty much like a high-end dream system the likes of which few people will ever hear, and even fewer will ever own.
It is genuinely rare that one gets to spend time with rarefied high-end kit such as this. Craig from Nxgen put up with us far beyond what he probably should have, and eventually left us to our own devices with his baby(ies). We managed not to break it, which is a feat all on its own, but we also did manage to get in some simple listening pleasure and considerable enjoyment along the way.
It’s impossible to do a critical assessment of a system like this – one can only hope to try and get an impression of the overall musical picture portrayed. It takes a while to adjust to the overall environment because let’s face it, this is hardly run of the mill. This is the first time I’ve heard the Giya G1s for instance, and pretty much everything else in the system to boot!
One becomes spoiled all too rapidly, and shifting through music seems to take seconds, but the reality is that it takes hours. In such rarefied atmospheres as these I suspect we may have been more like men in the desert, dying of thirst happening upon on oasis of glistening ice cold beer than of distinguished audiophile system reviewers.
Sigh. The difficulties we have to struggle through!
It’s hard to encompass the experience in a few words. It is hard to encompass it in a lot of words for that matter. But I’ll attempt to try and justify it in saying that it is brilliant, despite the breathtaking price tag. It doesn’t disappoint in other words, and in meeting one’s heroes I can say that it is an experience that is worth undertaking, even if it leaves you somewhat panting. What I was worried about, was turning on my own system at home and being disappointed with it – and yet, as always, that didn’t happen. Rather, systems like this serve to illustrate what it is we can lust after, aspire to, and see how close we can get to in stereo hi-fi.
It’s why I will never turn down an opportunity to hear something new. The love of music and the love of reproducing it in this insane hobby (and getting better at it!) is what I think drives many of us to simply enjoy ourselves in the process.
So from a critically revealing, state-of-the-art digital front end that (believe me) takes no prisoners, and that will cut down a bad recording so comprehensively that you start looking for the blood, you get shivers. The presence and detail that you would expect is there in timbre, space beyond anything I’ve heard in a long, long time and silences that hang heavy in the air from an SPL after-effect will transport you to a whole new level of realism in listening.
Detail means that you can hear the a piano’s natural timbre and resonance as opposed to just the sound board. It means you can hear the strings of the violin snapping and pinging in their torture from the bow. It means the big bassoon actually almost moves the air in front of your face and that ‘raspberry blowing’ effect from the brass is exactly as it should be. The harshness in music is there – and even the distortion is there, and I swear sometimes it’s the microphones that become the limiting factors.
We need to upgrade human ears to MK2.0…
Even the air movements alone will leave you on the edge of your seat. In the exciting bits where everyone in the orchestra is banging and blowing and moving and the conductor’s coat tails are flying around as he’s punching the air with his pointy stick in a furiously concentrated burst of energy whilst flipping over pages with the other hand… you can just about hear his coat moving in amongst the deluge of the sound, if you choose to listen for it.
If you want a more believable experience than this, you’re going to have to go a long way to find it. Do yourself a favour and get a listen in. You will not regret it. And that is all I have to say about that.