December 14, 2016, New Haven, Connecticut
Last Saturday December 10th, 2016, Ralph Cortigiano, owner of Take 5 Audio in New Haven, CT, invited his customers to his store to help celebrate his 40 years in business. There to support Take 5, lead the demonstrations and answer questions were Bill McKenzie of Dan D’Agostino Master Audio Systems and Anthony Chiarella representing Brinkmann Audio. The special event began at 2:00 PM and ran through the regular 5:00 PM Saturday closing, with different groups of attendees assembled and entertained in Ralph’s big room. For such an occasion, an equally auspicious system was assembled for our listening pleasure.
The analog and digital front end equipment being demoed included a Brinkmann Spyder Turntable ($12,000) with a Brinkmann AMG Teatro MC phono cartridge ($3,000) and an Esoteric K-03X CD Player ($12,000). From Dan D’Agostino, the Master Audio Systems M400 Momentum monoblock amplifiers ($65,000/pr), with their handsome copper heat sinks, and Momentum Preamplifier ($35,000). A Master Audio System Momentum Phonostage Preamplifier ($35,000), with balanced circuitry and separate moving coil and moving magnet stages (that’s a total of 8 gain circuits!) was accepting the Brinkmann’s output before sending it off to the Momentum Preamplifier. Speakers were Wilson Alexia ($52,000/pr in Desert Silver finish). Finally, cabling was Nordost Valhalla V2 series, specifically: balanced interconnects ($9,799/pr), RCA terminated phono interconnects ($9,799), balanced digital cable ($3,299) and speaker cable (shown in pictures, $16349/pr).
The sound was effortless, as should be expected. The combination of the Wilson Alexia powered by Mr. D’Agostino’s premier electronics impressed everyone there. I will have to re-listen to the Brinkmann table someday with vinyl of my own source. I would have killed to hear Rickie Lee Jones’ “Last Chance Texaco” through this amazing system. Although I wasn’t familiar with any of the digital music selections, their immediacy was startling and inviting, to say the least. My personal familiarity with Wilson speakers was a pair of Watt Puppy I had for about a year back in the 1990s. I loved their laser like resolution, although they were ruthless at exposing flaws with some of my less than well preserved vinyl. The Watt Puppy’s bright top end required room treatment the sort of which I had not back then. The Alexia speakers I heard Saturday were simply stunning, and while offering the same degree of resolution as the Watt Puppy, were far more refined and relaxed. I could easily see them handling both my digital and analog front ends with equal aplomb.
Here’s wishing Ralph a wonderful 40th anniversary. The fate of the high-end audio (and now video) salons is not yet cast, and I predict resurgence in short order. All new comers should visit Take 5 to see how it’s done.