Monday, September 17, 2012

"Audio Is a Circle..."

See this CD player? It's a Shanling CD-T1500, a CD player that I used for a good six months back when I was reviewing for TONEAudio. When I left TONE and headed for Texas back in 2009, I had a chance to buy this from publisher Jeff Dorgay, but I declined since I already had a Naim CDX2. I didn't see much sense in having two big-dollar CD players on hand, especially since I was considering ripping my entire CD collection to my computer and going completely CD-free (something I decided against later). Although my review never appeared in TONE, I did publish it here.

Well, fast forward to this last weekend, and I'm attending a "meet and greet" event in San Antonio which is hosted by Luther Ward. Luther is known as "Wardsweb" on many audio forums, particularly the Steve Hoffman Forum, and he's also a cigar smoker who has visited Copper House Liquor & Cigars here in Kyle. We met through our mutual friend, Russ Gates, of Polk Audio. Luther is known for making his own speakers and fixing all types of audio gear--especially vintage pieces and reel-to-reels. Colleen and I had a great time at his home this weekend, and he has lots of gear placed in several systems throughout his house.

Luther specializes in big horn-loaded speakers with beautiful cabinetry using vintage drivers. His systems feature a big, powerful sound that's both impressive and delicate at the same time. It's been a pleasure getting to know Luther and his family, as well as all the Steve Hoffman Forum members who attend his get-togethers. He also visits a group regularly in Round Rock, north of Austin, and Colleen and I are hoping to meet with those audiophiles in the near future.

Anyway, I noticed that Luther was using a Shanling CD-T1500 in his main system in his living room. I hadn't seen one for a while, and I mentioned that I used one extensively in my system for my last few months at TONE. I really liked this player; it was the first player I had used that did 24/192. Despite my reservations about its Chinese pedigree, I could have easily used it as a reference because its sound--as well as its spece-age looks--was so pleasing. I also loved the way its blue lights made my listening room glow.

I told Luther about my adventures with the Shanling. He said, "That's funny...I bought this one from Jeff at TONE." In other words, it was the same exact player! While I was thinking in terms of "It's a small world," Luther articulated it better by saying "Audio is a circle."

At any rate, we had a wonderful afternoon down in San Antonio at Luther's, eating his wife's amazing venison chili and smoking cigars on his back porch while his home was filled with eager audiophiles listening to great gear. Thanks again, Luther, and see you soon in Round Rock!

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