A casual mention of my upcoming trip to Delhi, and the first thing out of @ssf
lips was ‘you should meet @DB1989, and make sure you listen to the Quad S5’.
It was an order, which I was compelled to follow, and was I glad I did!
I diligently messaged @DB1989
, and he was kind enough to set up a meeting.
The moment you enter his pad, you’re greeted by speakers of varied sizes and brands, sitting pretty to your left, front, right, and also in the back, where a brand new unopened pair of speakers quietly squatted, waiting for its turn to be caressed. He mentioned that they were a gift from him to his best friend.
It was all overwhelming, in the best possible sense, of course. I had no clue where to begin, everything was shiny and intimidating, and I rightly had a stupid smile plastered on my face. Did I mention there was a large safe sitting right in the living room? Further, careful inspection revealed it to be a Mission MS450
was attending to a telephone call, I pranced along from speaker to speaker, amp to amp, DAC to DAC to figure out the origin and the culmination of the connections. One look behind the entertainment unit and, under my breath I cautioned myself, 'alrighty then, if shredding your hand is not your thing, avoid sticking it in there.'
holsters his gun, walks towards the front wall flanked by the Quads and the RELs, and proceeds to explain in detail the order of the chain. My stupid smile was back as I sensed the Quads were being made ready to fire up. It was like at a power generation facility, where every component had to be turned on, in a proper sequence, one by one. I had my Spotify playlist all set, I pressed play, the Quads roared, I melted.
As I was finding the strength to straighten my knees, @DB1989
nonchalantly mentions that the dual REL T9i were yet to be switched on.
I was ushered to slide onto a La-Z-Boy at the sweet spot, where the whole system is carefully set up to sound its best. @DB1989
is also very particular, meticulous, and organized. There is a method to the madness, after all.
I was able to spend only a couple of hours (I say only a couple of hours because there's so much gear to listen to. You may need to apply for leave for a week to get a sense of all of it) and from my brief listening session, here are a few observations:
The S5 is a beast in its own right; with extending highs that seemed endless, but sweet; the mids sang with authority, albeit a bit lean, and the lows grunting with enough texture and might. There’s a possibility that the mids appeared the way they did because of the striking highs. The Quads held hands with the Cambridge Audio CXA81, RME ADI-2, and Allo. (Apologies, as I’m not familiar with the various Allo devices).
The CXA81 and the Quads with their ribbon tweeter were an interesting pairing. There was a forward-presented holographic image that has to be experienced to be believed. The marriage of Cambridge Audio and the Quads helped to present excellent dynamics at all volumes; that was akin to an 'in-your-face' presentation. It was forward, airy, and tight, with enough space in-between the instruments. It appears that the CXA81 pushes the entire spectrum with uniform energy, there's no getting away; it takes you hostage and makes you listen. Mind you, it's enjoyable and addicting!
The dual RELs tie the sound well by laying a solid foundation for the rest of the frequencies to dance upon.
I had a brief session with the KEF Q350, and all I can say is, I want more!
This pair does so many things so well that I can safely recommend them to anyone who wants to set up a 'one-time audio system, set up and forget scenario'
(If that's even a thing in here), and just enjoy their music! Driven by the CXA81, they were such a pleasure to listen to, effortless, musical.
I can't wait to be back at @DB1989
to spend more time trying out various components in various combinations. His passion and knowledge are heartwarming. It was not only a privilege but also a pleasure. Thanks again @DB1989
P.S. I stress again, that it is not easy to audition gear, as proper home-audio showrooms exist in only a few patches in our country. The next best thing would be to call upon a friendly FM, and if willing, have a brief session with the gear they have. You'll not only have an FM to share ideas with face to face but also have a fair assessment of a realistic home setup, unlike demo rooms, that are well-treated to deceive us!
Get a first-hand experience of how the FMs have treated their room or overcome HiFi challenges etc. There's only so much one can absorb from written garble on this forum. Experiencing anything first-hand will always trump all. FMs are so creative that you might find something in there that might stir your pot, or could solve or elevate something in your own setup.