The same is true of audio gear. Though any given component’s nature may be warmer or cooler, more finely detailed, more airy, deep, or dynamic than another’s, ideally it will still have the ability—even with these various colorations—to bring us a decent, or better still, convincingly accurate semblance of the time and place a recording was made. Not some perfect—hence impossible—virtual time travel, mind you, but instead a truthful enough recreation of the performance that allows us to become swept away by the music, be it the extraordinary sound recorded at London’s Kingsway Hall for RCA’s famed The Royal Ballet or, another famed London venue, at Abbey Road.
With the Tyr 2 loom this feeling hit home like Maxwell’s silver hammer after listening to the vinyl set of The Beatles’ Abbey Road, The Anniversary Edition. As you know if you’ve heard it—and if not, be prepared to be astonished—Giles Martin’s remastering of the Beatles’ final recording is a revelation. From the get-go, “Come Together,” check out McCartney’s richly layered, chugging, rolling bass lines; the gritty textures and meaty crunch of Lennon’s and Harrison’s electric guitars; the full, funky, slightly distorted Fender Rhodes piano; and the wallop and rhythmic drive of Ringo’s drumming—especially that insistent kick pedal. With this new mastering of Abbey Road, the music doesn’t just sound better than ever—so much more detail, texture, air, frequency- and dynamic-range—it moves, it grooves, it rocks, it sways us as never before.
As my colleagues in these pages have noted before, what we attempt herein is actually quite difficult, especially with the finest gear, which is to describe not necessarily a component’s sound but instead its lack of sound, or coloration, its personality—or, ideally, its lack thereof. In this regard, the Tyr 2 loom (in conjunction with Nordost’s Qx4 power conditioner and Qb8 AC distribution center) seems to open the proverbial window onto the music, allowing the group’s instrumental and vocal interplay to shine through with relatively little interference. In short, to make us feel closer to not only the recorded event, but to the music making in progress at that time.
It’s thrilling to experience. And getting us as close as possible to such moments is what makes high-end audio so magical at its best—why designers keep pushing; why we keep listening, exploring, and marveling as the audio arts continue to advance.
Yes, the older Tara Labs cables are richer, warmer, meatier, and punchier sounding. But to me they also impose more of their own sound and personality onto the music than do the relatively cooler but purer, more consistently revealing Nordost set.
Shifting through a series of more deeply familiar musical gears, Mahler’s Symphony No. 2, as performed by my local band, The San Francisco Symphony led by Michael Tilson Thomas, is a piece I not only know intimately well from the orchestra’s live recording, but also one I’ve heard several times at the recording’s venue, Davies Hall. As such, it’s the closest I can come to saying I was at the actual recording session (which, in fact, I may well have been).
The Second is one of the crowning achievements from this ensemble’s complete cycle of Mahler symphonies, and this wonderful overall performance includes the late, great Lorraine Hunt Lieberson’s gorgeous mezzo solo in the penultimate “Ulricht” movement. Hearing it through the Tyr 2 set was one of those revelations, those “wow” moments, at once so familiar yet completely fresh, that we seek whenever making significant upgrades to our systems.