CES & THE Show 2011 • Best of Show

The bandwidth of the system VTL assembled was immense, but that was only part of its allure. No matter the music we played, it deftly walked the line between sonic boundaries, managing to sound both rife with color and true to the recording at the same time. VTL MB-450 Signature Series III monoblocks ($18,000/pair) drove TAD Reference One Speakers ($78,000/pair), with a VTL TL-7.5 Reference Series III preamp ($20,000) and TP-6.5 Signature phono stage ($8500) also in use.

Source components were a full dCS Paganini digital rig, including transport ($16,999), DAC ($17,999), clock ($7999) and upsampler ($10,499). For analog there was a Spiral Groove SG-2 turntable ($15,000) and Centroid tonearrm ($6000), and a Lyra Kleos cartridge ($2750). Interconnects and speaker cables were Transparent Opus MM2.

After listening to demo cuts on digital, Luke and Bea Manley treated us to analog, and the system presented a level of spatial information -- especially front-to-back layering -- that was less apparent with digital. Add "remarkable resolving power" to the list of traits this system displayed.

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