CES & THE Show 2012 • Best of Show

It's always a bit easier to understand the performance of a demo system when you're familiar with some of the products used in it -- and easier still when those products are the electronics and speakers.

We covered the Zanden Model 6000 integrated amp ($22,000) and Model 1300 phono stage ($13,750) at last year's CES, when the 6000 wasn't quite finished and the phono stage was called the Model 1000 Mk 2. A year later, with both products paired with Wilson Audio Sasha W/Ps ($27,900/pair), the sound was better still -- more airy and authoritative while retaining Zanden's house combo of ease and high resolution. The Zanden Model 2500S CD player ($22,000) looks as luxurious as it sounds, and the Grand Prix Audio Monaco 1.5 turntable ($23,000) with Tri-Planar Mk VII UII tonearm ($4950) and Lyra Titan cartridge ($6000) propelled the music with great rhythmic drive and momentum. Also in use were Zanden interconnects, speaker cables and power cords and Grand Prix Audio's gleaming Silverstone F1 equipment rack ($22,995 as configured).

It was particularly interesting to compare the analog rig with the digital. Audiophiles so often think of CD and LP as possessing utterly dissimilar sound, but the Zanden CD player and Grand Prix turntable bridged the chasm admirably, digital displaying analog-like naturalness and analog having better-than-expected leading-edge definition.

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