CES & THE Show 2010 • Best of Show

We were strongly urged -- dragged almost -- to hear a system whose most expensive product by far was the turntable, and what a turntable it was. The Continuum Caliburn costs a cool $150,000, and for that price you get just the one Cobra tonearm. But playing the first side of Supertramp's Crime of the Century, the Caliburn, with an Air Tight PC-1 Supreme cartridge ($10,000) mounted, was unflappable, even as the volume crept to paint-peeling level. Transients snapped into place, imaging was full, and tonality ideally balanced -- neither sweet nor tart. We were only going to stay for a few minutes and ended up listening to the entire side.

Of course, the rest of the system deserves some credit too. The speakers were Wilson Audio Sasha W/Ps ($26,950/pair), and the electronics were all from Audio Research, including a Reference 5 line-stage preamp ($11,995), Reference Phono 2 phono stage ($11,995), Reference 210 mono amps ($19,990/pair) and a CD5 CD player ($5995). We didn't get to hear the CD player, and didn't mind a bit.

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