Turtles all the way down…

Listening to two new components has got me thinking; how far can we go with home audio systems and are we hearing real improvements?

First let’s take a deep dive into the world of vibration reduction with our Italian friends Bassocontinuo. Last month we introduced you to our experiences with their entry level Lyra rack. It started the conceptual leap of thinking of a rack, not just storage for your system, but something that could make a worthwhile improvement. So we’ve ended up listening to Bassocontinuo’s flagship carbon fibre rack – the Aeon X. And we’ve had to completely rethink what is possible and just how much of a contribution vibration reduction and isolation can make to the sound of your system.

That answer is a lot more than we ever expected. In hindsight we should have known this; most music listeners appreciate that you can hear relatively modest improvements made to a system with cables and set up. The Aeon X rack attacks the problems of vibration from several different directions applying materials research, solid analytical testing, innovative Italian design and experienced manufacturing capabilities. Each part of this approach makes a worthwhile improvement but when you put them all together the result is nothing short of a revelation.

I would never have credited that such a great improvement was possible until I heard it for myself. Read our in-depth review and comparison here.

What is even more important is that the system we used to establish this was simple, accessible and affordable. At first glance the Aeon X rack appears esoteric and costly. But as we quickly discovered, the profound improvement it makes more than justifies the investment. Compared with similarly priced components, a Bassocontinuo rack, especially in the case of the Aeon X, could well be the best choice you can make.

The little NuPrime IA-9X integrated amplifier (NZ$2450) is a lot more specialised. While Bassocontinuo are all about reducing distortion created by vibration, NuPrime reduce distortion with innovative circuitry. Amplifier design is so often about small incremental improvements and subtle changes to the character of sound that electronics produce. With the IA-9X NuPrime demonstrate that they can literally build an amplifier to sound how they want and imbue it with a unique and distinctive character. Even more interestingly, this is a purely analogue amplifier and is based on the flagship Evolution STA. Read more about why we find it so intriguing here.

It’s also fascinating to compare the IA-9X with NuPrime’s entry level power amplifier that we introduced you to a couple of months ago – the STA-100.

But back to the turtles; it’s an expression of the problem of infinite regress, where we peel back one layer to reveal better sound but in doing so, make it apparent that we can do it again. Because we now have a more transparent system so can more easily hear subsequent improvements.

Bassocontinuo state that you can’t eliminate vibration, only reduce it. But with the Aeon X they employ multiple techniques and components to reduce it many times over so when you listen,  you hear an immediate and obvious improvement. We go down many layers of turtles in one hit. 

The NuPrime IA-9X might appear to be more subtle in what it does yet if you have the right setting for it to go into, this amplifier can be just as impressive. It peels away layers of distortion to reveal a new version of the musical truth.

Music has near universal appeal and we never seem to loose our capacity to enjoy it. You can take it for granted yet the moment you hear a song you like rendered in a new and better way your enthusiasm is rekindled. This is why we’re constantly looking to improve our audio systems – there’s always a way to make things better and gain even more enjoyment from all the music you listen to. The Bassocontinuo racks and NuPrime IA-9X are just examples in a carefully curated range at Totally Wired. Talk to us now and we’ll find the right component to make your own system sound even better.

We’re not just about the new. Around 60 years ago the first SME tonearm was launched and it has proved to be one of the most enduring and respected components in audio. SME then launched a MK2 extended version – the 3012 (it’s 12” long) that delivered even better performance and is still highly regarded and in fact a collectable. We’ve had a client donate their much loved SME to us to  run a charity auction for NZAVS – the NZ Antivivisection Society (I’m a volunteer director and secretary) – the auction still has around 6 weeks to run so check out our page on this and consider putting in a bid. These tonearms achieve quite astonishing prices on the likes of eBay but I’d really love it to go to a good home where it’s appreciated.

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