THE Show Newport Beach 2015 • Best of Show

The system that Brian Ackerman of Aaudio Imports put together looked decidedly modest, but the speakers, electronics and analog source all packed esoteric technology into their deceptively simple forms, and the sound they produced was as direct and musically communicative as any we heard at the show -- and more so than many systems that were much more complicated and expensive.

Lansche 3.1 speakers ($36,000/pair) . . .

. . . were driven by an Ypsilon Phaethon integrated amp ($24,800). An Ypsilon VPS-100 phono stage ($26,000) and . . .

. . . Ypsilon MC26L step-up transformer ($6200) provided gain for . . .

. . . a Thales TTT-Compact turntable ($13,200) with Simplicity II tonearm ($9200) and Ikeda KAI moving-coil cartridge ($8500). The electronics and turntable sat on a Finite Elemente Pagode APS rack ($8970), which was very much in keeping with the less-is-more vibe of the system.

Interconnects, speaker cables and power cords were all Stage III Concepts, with power disputation provided by HB Cable Designs in the form of the substantial PowerSlave Marble power distributor ($9900), the system's only nod to high-end excess.

This wasn't an inexpensive system, as the prices quoted prove, but it proved that state of the art doesn't have to mean big, complicated and overwrought. We know from past experience that in his showroom/listening space Brian Ackerman puts together extreme systems. But this one was the sort you could fit into most living spaces and lifestyles (provided they are analog only), immersing yourself in the music, not the equipment.

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