CES & THE Show 2010 • Best of Show

Big speakers and expensive, statement-level electronics crammed into small rooms are usually wasted at best and a sign of hubris at worst. But sometimes the whole thing works sonically in spite of the close quarters, and that was the case with the system BAlabo distributor Fred Nadel put together. A pair of BAlabo BP-1 Mk II stereo amps ($77,500 each) drove Tidal Sunray speakers ($178,600/pair), producing such gorgeous tonality and copious physical presence that we could have listened here for the entire afternoon. Also in use from BAlabo was a BC-1 Mk II preamp ($59,500), which the company calls a "control amp," and the new BD-1 32-bit digital-to-analog converter ($37,500). A Zanden Model 2000P CD transport ($30,250) or Blue Smoke Entertainment Systems Black Box music server ($7000) sent digital data to the DAC via a SensoryPower active digital cable ($3995). A Tidal LPX crossover ($18,100) aided in fine-tuning the speakers' performance. The Echole Obsession interconnects and speaker cables that tied everything together were new to us. They feature silver-gold palladium conductors.

While very large, the Tidal speakers offered precise physical scaling on our demo cuts, and the BAlabo electronics seemed to belie their solid-state nature. While the soundstage was obviously lacking ultimate depth, a byproduct of the cramped room, the sheer beauty on display made this system memorable.

The Audio Beat • Nothing on this site may be reprinted or reused without permission.