Positive Feedback Logo

Brutus Awards 2016 - A System of Sorts

12-14-2016 | By Dave Clark | Issue 89

So here it is the end of 2016 and us with our Brutus Awards. This has been a year with major changes for both Carol and I (we retired from many years as public school educators) and a year where we saw many people being taken from us earlier than anyone expected, needless wars and bloodshed, and an election to end all elections.

Yeah, been a crazy year to experience, but when we could, we would find solace in our music… here in our home through a system that has changed dramatically in so many ways. If you have been following my Audio Ramblings over 2016, well then you get the idea of where we were heading and why we choose whatever it was to get us there... our music on our terms.

We also had the opportunity to have many friends over to listen to this evolving system, and for some, it was their first experience with what high-end audio can offer to the listener. Many nights sharing music, sharing food and drink, sharing with friends… all with the same conclusion; a good time to soften those, to some degree, that were not so good. A respite from the storm of life. And every time the reaction was the same… this is fun. This is so cool. Wow, that sounds so amazingly right. The tone, the bass, the presence... Yeah, we have put together a real fun system. Not one that is really "audiophile" in terms of being analytically neutral and brutally honest (all the sort of audiophile bits and whatnot that one wants to check off on their must have audio list), but one that gets the music across in a way that is… fun and engaging. Yeah, it does a lot of those audiophile things, but not in a way that draws one to them... no, this system is more about having a good time.

Brutus Awards 2016

So here are the main bits that have changed… PS Audio BHK Stereo 250 amplifier, PS Audio DirectStream DAC (with the network bridge), PS Audio BHK Signature Preamplifier (yeah I know, man that is a whole lot of PS Audio gear but it works so well here), the Vandersteen Quatro Wood CT loudspeakers, WyWires Diamond speaker cables, Triode Wire Labs' AC cords (American Series and Silver Statement), Purist Audio Designs Neptune interconnects and speaker cables, TELOS GNR and its assorted cables (grounding noise reducer), Entreq's Poseidon and its assorted cables (a different grounding approach), Skogrand Beethoven USB cable, the Atmosphere items from Synergistic Research, the EnigmAcoustics Sopranino tweeters, and the audiomods modified Rega arm.

Bits that have not changed would be the Aries from Auralic, SBooster power supplies, the Certon C4 Integrita NAS, Transrotor turntable, Shelter 901 cartridge, DEQX PreMate+, Playback Designs MPS-5, ByBee AC conditioner, Nordost Q4, Heed and Channel D Lino phono stages…

And smaller bits, but no less important bits, are the DiD isolation feet from Daedalus Audio, Black Ravioli isolation pads, UpTone Regen, various iFi Audio products, and so on and so on.

Oh, and then the other systems (headphone and office) featuring the Mytek Brooklyn, ELAC Elears, Schiit Audio Jotunheim DAC/ preamp, Auralic Mini… the list goes on (more on these in 2017).

So yeah, things have come in and other things have gone to the side. The system is a whole lot of fun and plays music.

So with that we want to recognize the following products and companies with our Brutus Awards for 2016. I am not going into any detail about each product (read the reviews and such as noted if you are interested) but as a whole, as a system, these pieces work so well together.

PS Audio BHK Stereo 250 amplifier (Read the review HERE)

A stellar amplifier and with tubes in the input stage. Power and drive and yet so musically right. Never gets that hot and while it is heavy, it is light on its feet and sounds fast. We bought the review sample.

ps audio bhk 250

PS Audio DirectStream DAC and the PS Audio BHK Signature Preamplifier (Read the reviews HERE)

Also stellar products that can pretty much do whatever we need. Both are very very versatile and the preamplifier has tubes as well. While we went NOS with the amplifier, we kept the stock tubes in the preamplifier. We bought the review samples.

PS Audio BHK Signature Preamplifier and DirectStream DAC

Vandersteen Quatro Wood CT loudspeakers (Read the review HERE)

Nothing to add that hasn't been said in my review and elsewhere by other reviewers... simply amazingly musically killer. We bought the review sample.

Vandersteen Audio Quatro Wood CT Loudspeakers

WyWires Diamond speaker cables (Review coming soon)

Uh, wow. Really good without being overly anything, except engagingly musical.

Skogrand Beethoven USB cable (Review coming soon)

Ditto. And flexible too!

Triode Wire Labs American Series and Silver Statement AC cords (Read the review HERE)

For the money, a steal. For twice the price, a solid deal. For three times the price, still a find. Not sure how they do this for comparatively so little, but these cords are truly wonderful. We bought the review samples.

Triode Wire Labs

Purist Audio Designs Neptune interconnects and speaker cables (Review coming soon)

A nice step above the older Proteus Provectus... they retain all that those cables did while going that much further in the right direction.

TELOS GNR (Read the review HERE)

While not inexpensive, this is the final step in taking your system that extra distance in whatever it is you are after. Simply magical.

TELOS GNR Active Grounding Box

Entreq Poseidon (Read the review HERE)

Ditto that above. And the two are very synergistic together.

Entreq Grounding Boxes

Atmosphere from Synergistic Research (Read the review HERE)

Ditto. Need more space and ambiance? More there thereness... then this is final frontier in atmospheric realness-ness...

EnigmAcoustics Sopranino Self-Polarizing Electrostatic Super Tweeter  (Review coming soon)

Ditto above, but in a different place.

DiD isolation devices from Daedalus Audio (Read the review HERE)

Wow, talk about making such a difference... a must audition if not addition.


audiomods modified Rega arm (Read the review HERE)

Such a wonderful step in the right direction, giving us everything that was missing prior with the 'stock' Rega arm. We bought the review sample.